US Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy has hinted that a plea deal could possibly be given to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that would allow him to his home country of Australia and end America’s years-long pursuit.
Kennedy told the Sydney Morning Herald that the matter was an “ongoing case” being handled by the Department of Justice, adding, “So it’s not really a diplomatic issue, but I think that there absolutely could be a resolution.”
The ambassador noted recent comments from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that the charges against Assange were serious, adding, “but there is a way to resolve it.”
“You can read the [newspapers] just like I can.”
When pressed on whether authorities could strike a plea deal with Assange to reduce the charges against him, Kennedy said, “That’s up to the Justice Department.”
Responding to Kennedy’s comments, Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton said, “Caroline Kennedy wouldn’t be saying these things if they didn’t want a way out. The Americans want this off their plate.”
Assange has been facing extradition to the US for over a decade on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over Wikileaks’ publication of classified military and diplomatic documents, according to the Daily Mail.
Australian National University international law expert Don Rothwell told the Herald that the charges being fully dropped against Assange was “very unlikely,” but added that a realistic option would be US authorities downgrading the charges against Assange in exchange for a guilty plea.
It would also take into account the four years he has spent in a UK prison, with any remainder of the sentence being able to be served in Australia under a prison transfer agreement.