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Julian Assange agrees to plea deal with Biden administration that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US

CNN —
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge related to his alleged role in one of the largest US government breaches of classified material, as part of a deal with the Justice Department that will allow him to avoid imprisonment in the United States, according to newly filed federal court documents.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Justice Department prosecutors will seek a 62-month sentence – which is equal to the amount of time Assange has served in a high-security prison in London while he fought extradition to the US. The plea deal would credit that time served, allowing Assange to immediately return to Australia, his native country.
The plea deal must still be approved by a federal judge.
Assange had faced 18 counts from a 2019 indictment for his alleged role in the breach that carried a max of up to 175 years in prison, though he was unlikely to be sentenced to that time in full.
Assange was being pursued by US authorities for publishing confidential military records supplied by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 and 2011.
US officials alleged that Assange goaded Manning into obtaining thousands of pages of unfiltered US diplomatic cables that potentially endangered confidential sources, Iraq war-related significant activity reports and information related to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
President Joe Biden in recent months has alluded to a possible deal pushed by Australian government officials to return Assange to Australia.
FBI and Justice Department officials have opposed any deal that didn’t include a felony guilty plea by Assange, people briefed on the matter told CNN.
Last month, a UK court ruled that Assange had the right to appeal his final challenge against extradition to the US, dealing a win to him in his years-long fight to avoid prosecution in the States for his alleged crimes.
CNN’s Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Claudia Rebaza and Christian Edwards contributed to this report.

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