Top Asian News 3:38 a.m. GMT

WikiLeaks’ Assange pleads guilty to publishing US military secrets in deal that secures his freedom

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pleaded guilty to obtaining and publishing U.S. military secrets Wednesday in a deal with Justice Department prosecutors that secures his liberty and concludes a drawn-out legal saga that raised divisive questions about press freedom and national security. The criminal case of international intrigue, which had played out for years in major world stages of Washington and London, came to a surprise end in a most unusual setting with Assange, 52, entering his plea in a U.S. district court in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands. The American commonwealth in the Pacific is relatively close to Assange's native Australia and accommodated his desire to avoid entering the continental United States.