Whistleblower may go home after 7 years in exile, 5 years in prison for revealing in WikiLeaks U.S. war machine’s harms

ATLANTA – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been offered a plea deal, according to court documents released Monday, ending 12 years of captivity. Libertarian Chase Oliver and running mate Mike ter Maat feel relief for an injustice that three presidents could have ended sooner.

“Libertarians like myself and others have been calling for a pardon for Julian Assange for years,” says Oliver, 38, the Libertarian candidate for president. “He exposed the evils of the U.S. war machine, and for this, he gave up years of his life and liberty.”

According to news reports, Assange will plead guilty to a conspiracy charge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands as part of the deal with the Justice Department. He is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Wednesday local time, or 7 p.m. Tuesday EDT. In 2009, the journalist posted on his WikiLeaks website tens of thousands of reports gathered by military analyst Chelsea Manning about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, briefs about those detained in Guantanamo Bay, as well as State Department cables. Assange spent 7 years in self-exile in the Ecuador Embassy in London from 2012 to 2019 to avoid facing U.S. charges, then 5 years in the Balmarsh maximum-security prison. After the court appearance, he is expected to return to Austraila – where he’s a citizen. That time will count as time served toward his 62-month sentence, reports say.

Manning had received a 35-year sentence and went to prison in 2010. Obama commuted the sentence in 2017 in his final days as president. Oliver and ter Maat say that neither Manning nor Assange should have been imprisoned.

“An Oliver/ter Maat White House would not seek to punish whistleblowers but would instead seek to protect them,” Oliver says. “I still believe he should be pardoned, but I am happy he is able to make this plea deal to return to a more normal life.”

“I also continue my calls to pardon Edward Snowden, Ross Ulbricht, Leonard Peltier, and others,” he adds.

Oliver’s running mate ter Maat was thrilled with Assange’s pending release – “One small step by a man, a giant leap forward by mankind” – though he, too, was appalled at how the government treated the whistleblowing journalist.

“The threat to democracy posed by imprisonment of a journalist for releasing to the public information which he obtained without committing a crime cannot be overstated,” ter Maat says.

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