After a years-long legal battle, WikiLeaks announced that founder Julian Assange has left the UK following a plea deal with US authorities. The agreement will allow him to plead guilty to criminal charges and secure his freedom. “Julian Assange is free and left the United Kingdom and the high-security prison near London, where he had been held for five years, on Monday,” WikiLeaks reported.

Julian Assange, 52, is an Australian editor, publisher and activist, who founded Wikileaks in 2006 and came to international attention in 2010 after WikiLeaks published a series of leaks from US Army intelligence which resulted in charges of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information.

For years, the US argued that the Wikileaks files, which revealed details about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, endangered lives.

Assange has spent the last five years in a British prison, fighting extradition to the US. Reports indicate that he will not spend any time in US custody and will receive credit for his time incarcerated in the UK. He is expected to return to Australia, according to a letter from the US Department of Justice.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Wikileaks announced that Assange left Belmarsh prison on Monday. He was “released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK” to return home to Australia, the statement added.

His wife, Stella Assange, stated “Julian is free!” expressing her gratitude to supporters who “have all mobilized for years to make this come true.”

The deal, which involves Assange pleading guilty to one charge, is expected to be finalized in a court in the Northern Mariana Islands on Wednesday, June 26, a US commonwealth in the Pacific, closer to Australia than other US federal courts.

In April, US President Joe Biden considered a request from Australia to drop the prosecution against Assange.

Initially, US prosecutors sought to try Assange on 18 counts, mostly under the Espionage Act, for releasing confidential US military and diplomatic records related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wikileaks, claims to have published over 10 million documents, with the site publishing a video showing a US military helicopter killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in Baghdad, in 2010.

Assange also faced separate rape and sexual assault charges in Sweden, which he denied. He spent seven years hiding in Ecuador’s London embassy, claiming the Swedish case would lead to his extradition to the US. Swedish authorities dropped the case in 2019 due to the passage of time, but UK authorities later took him into custody for not surrendering to the courts.

Throughout his legal battles, Assange has rarely been seen in public and has reportedly suffered from poor health.

“After more than five years in a 2×3 meter cell, isolated for 23 hours every day, he will soon be reunited with his wife Stella and their two children, who have only known their father behind bars,” emphasized WikiLeaks.