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Biden ‘considering’ dropping charges against Julian Assange | US News

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Biden ‘considering’ dropping charges against Julian Assange | US News

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Julian Assange may see his charges dropped by Joe Biden (Picture: Shutterstock)

The United States is ‘considering’ dropping the charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, President Biden has announced.

In February, Australia’s Parliament approved a motion for Assange to be returned to his native Australia instead of being extradited to the U.S to face trial for espionage and cyber-crimes.

When asked about the motion by reporters at the White House on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said ‘we’re considering it’ – comments described as ‘encouraging’ by Mr Assange’s lawyer.

Assange, 52, faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

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The Wikileaks founder published hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which saw him indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse.

One video released by Wikileaks, titled ‘Collateral Murder’ showed a U.S. military helicopter killing civilians in Baghdad, including two journalists, after mistaking their camera equipment for weapons.

Former U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, who provided the initial leak, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2017, but later had her sentence pardoned by then-president Barack Obama.

Biden, then the vice president, had previously referred to Assange as a ‘high-tech terrorist’ in a December 2010 interview on Meet the Press. 

Julian Assange faces extradition to the US for alleged espionage crimes, which could see him jailed for 170 years (Picture: PA Wire)

During a two-day court hearing in February, Mr Assange’s lawyers sought to appeal against his extradition to the US, which they argued was a breach of freedom of expression and feared such a move may see him receive the death penalty.

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Thursday will mark five years since he was taken to Belmarsh prison after being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy where he had been claiming asylum since 2012.

Since then, Assange and his legal team have fought efforts to have him extradited to the U.S. to face these charges.   

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 170 years in prison.

In February, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese backed a parliamentary for Assange to be returned home, and expressed frustration that he remained jailed while Manning, his source, has been free since 2017. 

‘I hope this can be resolved. I hope it can be resolved amicably. It’s not up to Australia to interfere in the legal processes of other countries, but it is appropriate for us to put our very strong view that those countries need to take into account the need for this to be concluded,’ Albanese said in February.

‘Regardless of where people stand, this thing cannot just go on and on and on indefinitely.’  

This is a developing news story, more to follow soon… Check back shortly for further updates.

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