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Julian Assange dropping $500K for flight to remote island to avoid US mainland

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shelled out half a million dollars to fly to a remote island to avoid returning to the American mainland after accepting a plea deal with the US government and being freed from prison.
Assange, 52, was freed Monday morning from UK prison and flew from London Stansted Airport to the US territory of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands — a $500,000 flight, according to reports.
He will have a US federal court hearing Wednesday morning on the remote commonwealth island.
5 Julian Assange disembarks from a plane in Bangkok, Thailand on June 25. Wikileaks via X via REUTERS
5 Julian Assange paid half a million dollars to fly to Saipan, where he will appear in US federal court Wednesday. AP
There, he will plead guilty to conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information for releasing classified reports on the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on his WikiLeaks site, the US Justice Department said in the court docs filed Monday.
Assange reportedly refused to set foot on the American mainland, and instead opted for the tropical island as it was closer to his homeland of Australia, the Sun reported.
The American territory is only about 1,800 miles from Australia, compared to the 7,000 miles between it and Hawaii.
Emily Crawford, a professor at Sydney University’s law school, explained the decision to Reuters, telling the outlet, “He has to [face] up to charges that have been brought under US law.”
“It had to be US territory but it had to be the US territory closest to Australia that wasn’t a US state like Hawaii,” she added.
5 The remote tropical island is about 7,000 miles from Hawaii. Michael Runkel/Danita Delimont –
5 Assange has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday on the remote island. AFP via Getty Images
After he pleads guilty to the one charge, he is expected to be allowed to fly home, with his five years in UK prison counting as time served.
His wife, Stella Assange, said he will seek a pardon from the US after pleading guilty to the charge.
She told Reuters it had been “a rough few years” and that she would not really believe he was free until they were reunited.
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“I feel elated. I also feel worried, you know, because I’m so used to this. Anything could happen. I’m worried that until it’s fully signed off, I worry, but it looks like we’ve got there. I’ll really believe it when I have him in front of me and I can take him and hug him and then it will be real, you know?” she said.
She said the couple’s two children are with her in Australia, but she has yet to tell them that he’s been freed.
“All I told them was that there was a big surprise on the morning that we left,” she told BBC 4 Radio. “I told them we were heading to the airport. And we got on the plane and I told them that we were going to visit our family, their cousin, their grandfather and so on. And they still don’t know.”
5 Assange was freed Monday morning after five years in a UK prison. Wikileaks via X via REUTERS
His wife confirmed that they intend to launch a fundraising campaign as the flight he chartered to Saipan cost a stunning $500,000 and he will likely return home in debt.
Assange, heralded as a hero journalist who exposed US military abuses by some and as a criminal who threatened national security by others, was accused in a federal indictment of aiding US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in stealing hundreds of thousands of classified military files, which WikiLeaks published online in 2010.
Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison, but was released after about seven when President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in 2017.
With Post wires



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