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Justice Department held plea deal discussions with Assange

<i>Jack Taylor/Getty Images/File via CNN Newsource</i><br />Julian Assange spoke to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19
Jack Taylor/Getty Images/File via CNN Newsource
Julian Assange spoke to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19

By Evan Perez, Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

(CNN) — The Justice Department had preliminary discussions about a plea deal with Julian Assange’s attorneys at one point in the case against him over his alleged mishandling of classified material, though a deal is neither imminent nor assured, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Such discussions are a routine feature of criminal cases, and there haven’t been recent talks about a plea in the WikiLeaks founder’s case. There is not currently an official plea offer from US prosecutors, the source said.

“We have been given no indication that the Department of Justice intends to resolve the case, and the United States is continuing with as much determination as ever to seek his extradition on all 18 charges, exposing him to 175 years in prison,” Barry Pollack, an attorney for Assange, said in a statement to CNN.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the discussions.

The case against Assange was unsealed in 2019 in Virginia in connection with the publication of thousands of documents containing military secrets and other sensitive information leaked by an Army intelligence analyst.

Assange may soon have to face the US justice system and charges under the Espionage Act after years of him fighting extradition. He is currently behind bars in the United Kingdom, awaiting a ruling on whether he will be allowed to appeal a UK decision to extradite him to the US.

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