Danish Kapoor
Danish Kapoor

Julian Assange defends himself as he pleads guilty to espionage

Julian Assange formally pleaded guilty to violating the US Espionage Act in federal court in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands. The WikiLeaks founder was released from prison on June 24 after reaching a deal with the US government and immediately boarded a plane from London’s Stansted Airport for Saipan. Although the agreement required Assange to plead guilty to “conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information relevant to the national defense of the United States,” Assange still defended himself in court.

Assange said that as a journalist he should be protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and said: “Because I work as a journalist, I encouraged my source to disclose and publish information that was said to be classified.” “I believe the First Amendment protects that,” she stated.

Assange also said he believed the First Amendment and the Espionage Act were at odds with each other, but acknowledged that his actions “violated the espionage statute” and that “it would be difficult to win such a case given all the circumstances.”

The US government’s lawyer accused Assange of encouraging high-security personnel to disclose classified military information and threaten national security. WikiLeaks published classified information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq obtained by its own leadership, whistleblower and former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning.

Julian Assange Won’t Serve Prison Time in the US

Lawyers for both sides argued about the length of time Assange had spent in prison, but about three hours into the trial, Chief Justice Ramona V. Manglona declared that the 62 months Assange had spent in Belmarsh Prison was reasonable and equal to the time Manning had already served. Assange immediately left North Marinara Island and traveled to Canberra, Australia.

Danish Kapoor