IANS

A US federal court in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, on Wednesday ordered that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who pleaded guilty to a single felony count of violating the Espionage Act, should be released immediately. 

He will leave the court as a 'free man', Judge Ramona Manglona said.

The judge said that it is fair to accept the 62 months, which he has already spent in a cell in the UK, as his sentence. "You will be able to walk out of this courtroom a free man," Judge Manglona said.

Earlier in the day, Assange pleaded guilty in court as part of a deal with the US Justice Department to avoid further prison time and end the years-long legal saga.

The Wikileaks founder on Wednesday morning arrived in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean, after being freed from the UK prison, where he spent more than five years.

Australia's ambassador to the US and former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and High Commissioner to the UK, Stephen Smith were also present in the courtroom.

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Assange will now fly home to Australia's capital, Canberra.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)

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