US Ambassador Flags Plea Deal for Julian Assange

( – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has faced potential prosecution in the US after his media organization released classified documents obtained from Chelsea Manning in late 2010. Assange initially avoided transfer to United States authorities by holing up in Ecuador’s Embassy in London and later from his British prison cell. However, a recent report from a media outlet in Assange’s native country of Australia indicated the US Ambassador flagged a potential plea deal for him.

On August 14, The Sydney Morning Herald published an article detailing a conversation about Assange’s ongoing legal plight with Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. Asked about the possibility of a diplomatic solution, she indicated that Justice Department officials were continuing to handle the details of its “ongoing case,” a reference to his 17-count indictment in the US on various charges related to the Espionage Act and computer hacking.

“So, it’s not… a diplomatic issue,” she explained, adding that “there absolutely could be a resolution” to the matter.

Following up, the Australian media outlet asked Kennedy whether US officials would consider entering into a plea deal with Assange. She responded that, ultimately, it was “up to the Justice Department.”

Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, expressed optimism about Kennedy’s remarks. He said she wouldn’t discuss the possibility of a deal unless US officials wanted a way out of the situation. “The Americans want [it] off their plate,” he stated.

Donald Rothwell, a professor of international law at Australia National University, weighed in on Kennedy’s remarks. He said the most likely outcome of the legal battle would involve Assange entering into a plea deal with US officials that included credit for the four years he has already served in a British prison and an agreement that he would serve the remainder of his sentence in Australia.

It remains unclear whether Assange would be willing to travel to the United States to formalize a plea agreement in front of a judge. He has a long-standing aversion to stepping foot on US soil. Rothwell said he thought it would be a “significant sticking point” for Assange.

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