Afternoon Update: Julian Assange released from prison; the Greg Lynn trial verdict; and AI song generators sued

<span>WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been released from a British prison and is expected to plead guilty to violating US espionage law.</span><span>Photograph: "@wikileaks"/X/Reuters</span>
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been released from a British prison and is expected to plead guilty to violating US espionage law.Photograph: "@wikileaks"/X/Reuters

Welcome, readers, to Afternoon Update.

After 1,901 days of captivity inside UK’s Belmarsh prison, Julian Assange has been released from custody, according to WikiLeaks, the organisation he founded.

The announcement that Assange, 52, was free came shortly after news broke that he was set to plead guilty this week to a single criminal count of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defence documents, in a deal that would allow him to return home to Australia.

Footage showed Assange boarding a plane at a UK airport and his supporters celebrated the news. His mother, Christine Assange, said she was grateful her son’s “ordeal is finally coming to an end”.

However, as the Guardian’s Julian Borger discusses, the verdict is not necessarily a clear win for the principle underlying his defence, the freedom of the press, as the Espionage Act will still hang over the heads of journalists – not just in the US.

Read our in-depth explainer of Assange.

Top news

  • Greg Lynn found guilty of murdering Carol Clay | However, the jury acquitted Lynn of killing Russell Hill in Victoria’s high country in 2020. Lynn, 57, who was the defence’s only witness during the trial, had pleaded not guilty to both murder charges.

  • Amber Haigh murder trial | The prosecution has alleged in court that teenager Amber Haigh was used by Robert and Anne Geeves, both 64, as a “surrogate mother” and, once Haigh’s baby was born – fathered by Robert Geeves – they sought to have her “removed from the equation” by killing her.

  • Victorian pill-testing service to become permanent | After making the announcement via Instagram Monday night, the premier, Jacinta Allan, on Tuesday confirmed that Victorians are now able to test pills, powders and liquids for the presence of deadly substances at festivals and at a fixed location in Melbourne.

  • Pharmacy Guild not consulted on ‘rushed’ vape deal | The lobby group representing pharmacy owners said its members were “gobsmacked” by a deal between the Greens and Labor which will see vapes sold over-the-counter by pharmacists without a prescription.

  • Macron warns of ‘civil war’ | The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has warned that the far-right National Rally (RN) party and the leftwing New Popular Front coalition – both of which are frontrunners in the parliamentary election – risk bringing “civil war” to France.

  • Plans to liquidate far-right platform Infowars | A court-appointed bankruptcy trustee has signalled intentions to liquidate assets belonging to Alex Jones to help pay $1.5bn in lawsuit judgments Jones owes for repeatedly calling the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting a hoax, including the media platform Infowars.

  • Posthumous Sophie album to be released | The album was nearly completed when Sophie died suddenly in 2021 at the age of 34. It was “lovingly finalised by those who hold her closest”, including Sophie’s brother and collaborator Ben Long, who said that there were “literally hundreds” of unreleased tracks Sophie made before she died.

  • Music labels sue AI song generators | The world’s biggest record companies are suing the artificial intelligence song generators Suno and Udio for copyright infringement, alleging that the AI music startups are exploiting the recorded works of artists from Chuck Berry to Mariah Carey.

  • T20 World Cup: Afghanistan v Bangladesh | Australia have been bundled out of the T20 World Cup after Bangladesh fell to an eight-run defeat to Afghanistan in a rain-affected thriller.

In pictures

Toys, spices, sewing machines: the items Israel banned from entering Gaza

The fluctuating policy has targeted a huge range of items, as tracked by an Israeli human rights group. The latest version of the blockade, illustrated by Mona Chalabi, is nearly total.

What they said …

***

A “triumph of spin over science” – Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

While the Labor government is celebrating the decision not to place the Great Barrier Reef on the Unesco “in danger” list, Whish-Wilson has expressed his concern, saying “no amount of conservation efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef will shield it from the impacts of new coal and gas projects”.

In numbers

The latest NSW Crime Commission report says there has been a “sharp rise” in the use of trackers in recent years, including among organised crime networks to “monitor, locate and ultimately attack their rivals”.

Before bed read

‘After a decade in detention I call Australia home. Labor’s deportation bill is horrific’

Refugees like me have already been through so much. All we ever wanted was freedom, writes Bandesh.

Daily word game

Today’s starter word is: BOO. You have five goes to get the longest word including the starter word. Play Wordiply.

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