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Things to know about how Julian Assange and US prosecutors arrived at a plea deal to end his case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back in Australia as a free man, having resolved through a plea deal a U.S. Justice Department case charging him with obtaining and publishing government secrets on his secret-spilling website.

It was a stunning resolution to a polarizing drama that landed at the intersection of press freedom and national security, spanned three presidential administrations and played out across multiple continents.

Here are some things to know:

The negotiations

The plea deal was the culmination of a lengthy negotiation process that accelerated in recent months and featured numerous proposals and counterproposals.

About a year and a half ago, a lawyer for Assange made a presentation to federal prosecutors in Virginia that included a bold request: that they drop the case.

That was untenable to the Justice Department, but months later prosecutors asked whether Assange would be open to resolving the case through a guilty plea. The Assange team was open to exploring that possibility but had two lines in the sand for what any deal would entail: no additional prison time and the ability to avoid entering the United States, consistent with his distrust of the government.

Assange’s lawyer proposed a misdemeanor plea, which under federal rules could be entered remotely without Assange needing to travel to the U.S. Another possibility was having the organization of WikiLeaks plead guilty to a felony and Assange to a misdemeanor.

Ultimately, in the last several months, Justice Department leaders floated the concept of a deal that would ensure Assange's freedom and permit a plea to be entered outside the 50 states. Though the list of places that would fit that criteria is limited — Guam is one — the Northern

Read more on independent.co.uk