WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s US legal battle ends

Kathmandu: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange returned to his homeland Australia aboard a charter jet and raised a celebratory clenched fist as his supporters cheered on Wednesday, hours after pleading guilty to obtaining and publishing U.S. military secrets in a deal with Justice Department prosecutors that concludes a drawn-out legal saga.

Assange told Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in a phone call from the capital Canberra’s airport tarmac that Australian government intervention in the U.S. prosecution had saved his life, Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson said.

Assange embraced his wife Stella Assange and father John Shipton who were waiting on the tarmac, but avoided media at a news conference less than than two hours after he landed.

Assange was accused of receiving and publishing hundreds of thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables that included details of U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His activities drew an outpouring of support from press freedom advocates, who heralded his role in bringing to light military conduct that might otherwise have been concealed from view and warned of a chilling effect on journalists. Among the files published by WikiLeaks was a video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.

Source: AP