New York, June 24, 2024 — The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes reports that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be freed from prison in a plea deal with the United States Justice Department.

“Julian Assange faced a prosecution that had grave implications for journalists and press freedom worldwide,” said CPJ CEO Jodie Ginsberg. “While we welcome the end of his detention, the U.S.’s pursuit of Assange has set a harmful legal precedent by opening the way for journalists to be tried under the Espionage Act if they receive classified material from whistleblowers. This should never have been the case.”

According to news reports, Assange is expected to plead guilty to an Espionage Act charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified national defense information.

Assange is expected to return to his native Australia once the plea deal is finalized in federal court in the Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Western Pacific.

Assange was indicted on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in relation to WikiLeaks publication of classified material, including the Iraq War logs. If convicted under these charges, he would have faced up to 175 years in prison.

CPJ has long opposed U.S. attempts to prosecute Assange and campaigned for his release jointly with other organizations.