*** ----> Assange returns to Australia | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Assange returns to Australia

AFP | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange returned home to Australia to start life as a free man yesterday after admitting he revealed US defence secrets in a deal that unlocked the door to his London prison cell.

Assange landed on a chilly Canberra evening in a private jet, the final act of an international drama that led him from a fiveyear stretch in the high-security Belmarsh prison in Britain to a courtroom in a US Pacific island territory and, finally, home.

His white hair swept back, the Australian raised a fist as he emerged from the plane door, striding across the tarmac to give a hug to his wife Stella that lifted her off the ground and then to embrace his father.

Dozens of television journalists, photographers and reporters peered through the airport fencing to see Assange, who wore a dark suit, white shirt and brown tie.

“He will be able to spend quality time with his wife Stella, and his two children, be able to walk up and down on the beach and feel the sand through his toes in winter -- that lovely chill,” Assange’s father, John Shipton, said earlier in the day.

‘Time to recuperate’ Prison time had taken a toll on Assange, who did not attend a WikiLeaks news conference to mark his return, his wife told reporters.

“You have to understand, he needs time, he needs to recuperate, and this is a process,” she said, apparently close to tears.

“I ask you please to give us space, to give us privacy, to find our place, to let our family be a family.” Assange’s long battle with US prosecutors came to an unexpected end in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, where a judge accepted his guilty plea on a single count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate national defence information.

The remote courtroom was chosen because of the 52-yearold’s unwillingness to go to the continental United States and because of its proximity to Australia.

After touching down in Canberra, Assange told Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese by phone “that he had saved his life”, the lawyer told reporters. Albanese said he was “very pleased” by the outcome.

Assange met his wife Stella while holed up in the embassy and the pair married in a ceremony in London’s Belmarsh prison. They have two young children