Saipan: The court hearing is in session for Julian Assange’s sentencing hearing.

The media has been corralled into a room watching the hearing from two large screens.

Assange is being sworn in the court.

“My name is Julian Paul Assange” he says, and spells out Assange.

He is now being asked a series of questions, including his age and qualifications.

He tells the court he studied at university but didn’t graduate.

Assange describes his past employment as: a consultant, journalist, computer programmer, author, documentary maker, and producer.

It has just passed 9am in Saipan and Julian Assange’s plea hearing has begun.

Assange will be sentenced for time served in the court. An updated court document states that Assange has been summoned to the third floor of the District Court.

Julian Assange arriving at Saipan court.

Julian Assange arriving at Saipan court.Credit: Getty Images

There is one count listed: conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information relating to the national defence of the United States, in violation of 18 USC, section 793(g).

Another court document states that US Justice Department officials “anticipate that the defendant will plead guilty to the charge”.

Once the proceedings are over, WikiLeaks and his family say Assange will be free to return to Australia, which could be as soon as Wednesday evening.

AP

Australian politicians from across the political spectrum have this morning given their views on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s pending freedom.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said it was an “enormously important day” for Assange which the government welcomes.

“Whatever you may think about Julian Assange, this is a person who was subject to a 14-year stand-off and a very difficult issue for the people involved in this, as we do want to see that matter brought to a close,” she told Seven’s Sunrise.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“I want Australians to know how instrumental our prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has been in making this happen. He was a big proponent of resolving this human rights matter long before it became popular opinion.”

Coalition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume also backed the legal saga coming to an end but said Assange was no hero.

“Personally speaking, Julian Assange is no hero of mine. He put lives in danger, not just of counter-intelligence agents in the US, but also of innocent and helpful Iraqi and Afghani citizens who were helping coalition forces. That was a reckless move,” she said.

Leader of the Greens Adam Bandt told ABC News Breakfast he would not comment on the legal matters under way but said his party has always advocated for Assange’s release.

“The Greens have said from the beginning that journalism is not a crime and it’s caused many people around this country incredible distress to watch how Julian Assange has been treated,” he said.

Former US vice president Mike Pence says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s plea deal is a miscarriage of justice.

In a post to X, Pence said Assange endangered the lives of troops in a time of war and should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“The Biden administration’s plea deal with Assange is a miscarriage of justice and dishonours the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces and their families,” he wrote in a post to X.

“There should be no plea deals to avoid prison for anyone that endangers the security of our military or the national security of the United States. Ever.”

Defence Minister Richard Marles told ABC Radio National he does not think it serves to go over Assange’s actions from years go, other than to observe that since then, Assange has been incarcerated for “many years”.

“Mr Assange has served a considerable amount of time in prison and of course, he was confined for a considerable period of time prior to that,” Marles said.

It was a fleeting moment when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrived at the United States courthouse, but photographers managed to get some shots.

Assange appeared at the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands and was smiling with Australian ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd.

See pictures below of Assange’s arrival.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arives at the United States courthouse.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arives at the United States courthouse.Credit: Getty Images

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives to the the United States Courthouse with Australian ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives to the the United States Courthouse with Australian ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd.Credit: Getty Images

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with Australian ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with Australian ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd.Credit: AP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Australian ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd have arrived at the Saipan court.

Rudd was seen with Assange as they went through security, both wearing suits and smiling.

The coverage of the pair going through the court’s security can be seen below (rewind to replay).

Julian Assange has not yet been spotted at Saipan.

However, pictures are emerging of what is believed to be his flight landing and a white SUV carrying him from the Saipan International Airport.

See the pictures of what is happening in Saipan below.

Journalists wait for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the United States courthouse where he is expected to enter a plea deal, in Saipan.

Journalists wait for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the United States courthouse where he is expected to enter a plea deal, in Saipan.Credit: AP

Officials outside the courthouse where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to enter a plea deal, in Saipan, Mariana Islands.

Officials outside the courthouse where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to enter a plea deal, in Saipan, Mariana Islands.Credit: AP

A plane believed to be carrying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lands at the Saipan International Airport.

A plane believed to be carrying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lands at the Saipan International Airport.Credit: Getty Images

A vehicle (white SUV) believed to be carrying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange departs the Saipan International Airport.

A vehicle (white SUV) believed to be carrying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange departs the Saipan International Airport.Credit: Getty Images

Defence Minister Richard Marles says the release of Julian Assange will not sour relations between Australia and the United States.

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Marles declined to give further detail about how the release of Assange was negotiated with the United States but said he would not describe it as a sore point for Australia and US relations.

“No, I wouldn’t. I have been working with the United States since we have come to power on a range of issues and I certainly couldn’t see this as being an issue,” Marles said.

Defence Minister Richard Marles.

Defence Minister Richard Marles.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“We have maintained many of the equities that we do in our relationship with the United States.”

Asked if Australia would support Assange seeking a pardon from US President Joe Biden, Marles refused to comment.

“It’s not appropriate for me to start commenting on how the proceedings might occur in the United States. Where we are at is we are expecting him to be in the United States court today and the legal process in the US needs to take its course from there,” he said.

One aspect of the controversy surrounding Julian Assange is the nature of his relationship with Russia. Assange once hosted a show that was carried on Moscow’s RT network.

In 2016, WikiLeaks released emails into the presidential campaign that had been hacked by Russia. After news of the plea deal emerged on Tuesday, the head of the Kremlin-operated Sputnik network praised Assange.

On social media, Margarita Simonyan relayed an undated conversation she claimed she had with Assange as the two “wandered through the woods outside London” with their mobile phones left behind for privacy reasons.

“Today, he is free for the first time in years… despite the horrific price, I’m awfully happy. The best journalist of our time will live,” Simonyan wrote on her Telegram channel, according to a post on X.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd, now the Australian ambassador to the United States, is said to be heading to the Pacific island of Saipan to attend the court hearing that will decide whether Julian Assange can return to Australia.

It comes after years of diplomatic work in Washington to arrange a plea deal that is acceptable to the United States government as well as the Wikileaks founder.

Rudd is likely to join the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Stephen Smith, in a high-powered diplomatic contingent to observe the court hearing, which will decide whether to accept a felony plea from Assange, at 9am AEST.

Australian ambassador to the US and former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Australian ambassador to the US and former prime minister Kevin Rudd.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Saipan is in the same time zone as eastern Australian states. While all sides expect the court decision will allow Assange to leave Saipan for Australia soon after the appearance before the US judge, nothing is certain until the judicial process is completed.

Rudd and Smith were cabinet colleagues during the Labor government from 2007 to 2013, with Smith serving as foreign minister when Rudd was prime minister.

The charter flight taking Assange to Saipan landed at the island’s airport at 6.16am, according to flight radar websites.

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