Colombian President Extends Invitation to Assange Following Release from Prison

The WikiLeaks co-founder is welcome in Colombia, its leader said as Assange is expected to avoid further jail time

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has extended an invitation to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to visit Colombia following news of his release from London’s Belmarsh maximum-security prison on Tuesday morning.

Assange is anticipated to plead guilty to disseminating classified information as part of a plea agreement with US authorities, leading to his release later this week. This marks the end of his more than two-decade-long legal battle against prosecution.

“I congratulate Julian Assange on his freedom. Assange’s eternal imprisonment and torture was an attack against the freedom of the press on a global scale,” Petro wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“Assange’s eternal imprisonment and torture was an attack against the freedom of the press on a global scale,” the Colombian leader wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Denouncing the massacre of civilians in Iraq at the hands of the US was his ‘crime,’ and now the same massacre is being repeated in Gaza.”

Petro invited Assange and his wife Stella to visit Colombia as “an act of true freedom.”

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales also offered congratulations to the WikiLeaks co-founder. “He has been imprisoned for many years for exposing the crimes of the United States to the whole world. He helped us to unveil and dismantle the lies that they used to justify wars and invasions,” he wrote on X.

Over the years, WikiLeaks has published a significant number of top-secret files, including documents related to the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a cache of US diplomatic cables. In 2010, the website released footage depicting a US military helicopter firing on civilians in Baghdad in 2007 after mistakenly identifying them as hostile forces.

From 2011 to 2019, Assange sought refuge within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, driven by fears of extradition. Ecuador ultimately revoked his asylum status, leading to Assange’s removal from the embassy and subsequent arrest by British police. He was later convicted of breaching bail conditions and spent five years incarcerated in London’s Belmarsh prison.

Assange is scheduled to appear in court in the US Pacific territory of the Northern Mariana Islands on Wednesday. The plea deal carries a sentence of five years – the duration he has already served in the UK. Without this agreement, Assange faced a potential prison term of up to 175 years if found guilty, according to his legal team.