Julian Assange returns to Canberra from the US

Giuseppe de vita

Washington (Brussels Morning) – Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, returns to Canberra, Australia, greeted warmly by supporters after his legal ordeal spanning 14 years, aiming to recover from his tumultuous journey to freedom.

Who Welcomed Julian Assange upon His Return to Canberra?

The WikiLeaks architect touched down in the Australian capital of Canberra just after 7.30 pm on Wednesday, before strolling across the tarmac to welcome his wife, Stella Assange. Supporters who had braved the cold could be attended applauding as he arrived, with some cheering “We love you Julian” and “Welcome home”.

Julian Assange requires time to recover after his 14-year legal tale, his wife, Stella, stated, following his arrival back in Australia on Wednesday night.

Assange vacated a US court in the US Pacific island territory of Saipan as a free man on Wednesday after asserting guilty to a single criminal count of conspiring to receive and disclose classified defence documents. He was convicted to time already served, due to time already fitted in Belmarsh prison in London.

His departure ends a legal saga that traversed more than a decade in which Assange spent five years in the high-security jail and seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fighting extradition to the US where he met 18 criminal charges. If found culpable, he would have confronted a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

Instantly after the three-hour hearing, the US government withdrew its extradition demand from the UK, dropped all remaining directives pending in the US, and banned Assange from returning to the US without authorisation. Assange headed straight to the airfield and arrived in Canberra on Wednesday evening local time.

Who Accompanied Julian Assange on His Journey to Australia?

Assange journeyed to Australia aboard a private chartered Bombardier jet, with his lawful team, the ambassador to the US, Kevin Rudd, and the UK high commissioner, Stephen Smith.

Assange’s wife, Stella, joined his lawyers, Jennifer Robinson and Barry Pollack, for a press meeting on Wednesday night where she thanked followers but asked for privacy as her husband recovered.

What Did Julian Assange’s Wife Say About His Return?

“Julian needs time to recover. To get used to freedom. Someone told me yesterday who had been through something similar, that freedom comes slowly,” she expressed in front of a packed room of reporters. “And I want Julian to have that space to rediscover freedom, slowly. And quickly.”

Robinson also thanked the ex-Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, who now operates as the Australian ambassador to the US, along with the serving PM, Anthony Albanese.

Robinson expressed she had become “very emotional” upon landing in Australia, and that Albanese had been the first to communicate with Assange over the phone. “Julian thanked him and the team and told the prime minister that he had saved his life. And I don’t think that that is an exaggeration,” Robinson stated.

At a press gathering shortly after Assange anchored, Albanese stated he was “pleased to be the first person” to speak with Assange “immediately upon the spins touching the ground”.

“His safe recovery to Australia, we know, means so much to his family. His wife, Stella, his children, who he is looking ahead to playing with like any dad, and his parents, Christine and 

John,” he stated.

“There was no intention to be served by this ongoing incarceration. And can I say that when I spoke with Mr Assange tonight, he explained it as a surreal and happy moment.”

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Giuseppe De Vita is a journalist at Brussels Morning News, He is covering European politics, Law and Technology news. Lawyer at De Vita & Partners Law Firm specializing in Criminal Law, Military and Space Law, and Cyber Security. In April 2023, he authored the monograph "Governance in Extraterrestrial Space", showcasing his extensive legal expertise. He has acquired vast experience in handling criminal and civil matters, managing litigation before various levels of jurisdiction across the national territory. In 2010, he obtained a Master's degree in Information Technology Law. Additionally, in the same year, he served as a teacher in criminal-IT subjects at the Penitentiary Police School of Portici, providing courses aimed at officials and managers of the Penitentiary Police and the Penitentiary Administration, focusing on IT security. He also serves as a Workplace Safety teacher, conducting training courses at various organizations and educational institutions. Moreover, he is a lecturer on Anti-Corruption and Transparency. The law firm, under his guidance, assists both private and corporate clients in court, accumulating significant experience in criminal and civil disputes over the years. Furthermore, it conducts Risk Management and Compliance, Cyber Resilience, and Cyber Security activities, with a specific focus on privacy protection (EU Regulation 2016/679 - GDPR). Giuseppe frequently publishes articles in legal journals, analyzing various regulatory issues. He has contributed articles to the legal journal Altalex, of which he is also a member of the Scientific Committee.