New normal for Assange as spotlight shifts to next move

Questions are hanging over Julian Assange's future as he adjusts to ordinary life.

The WikiLeaks founder set foot on Australian soil as a free man after 14 years dodging US authorities for leaking secret state information.

He landed in Canberra on Wednesday evening, but questions are being asked about his next moves.

Stella Assange.
Stella Assange says her husband needs time to rest, recover and consider his future. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Pressed on whether Assange would leak classified documents again if given the chance, his wife Stella Assange said he needed time to consider his future.

"He is just savouring freedom for the first time in 14 years, he needs time to rest and to recover - he's just rediscovering normal life and he needs space to do that," she told reporters.

"Julian is the most principled man I know and he will always defend human rights and speak out against injustice.

"He can choose how he does that because he is a free man."

The 52-year-old plans to swim in the ocean every day, sleep in a real bed, taste real food and enjoy his freedom, his wife said.

But Assange's liberation has come at a cost.

As part of his legal deal, he pleaded guilty to espionage and was forced to destroy any other US documents in WikiLeaks' possession that remain unpublished.

"The judge found that there is no evidence that any harm has befallen any individual anywhere in the world is the result of Mr Assange's publications," his US lawyer Barry Pollack said.

"That being said ... Julian has complied with that provision."

Lawyer Jennifer Robinson.
Jennifer Robinson says Julian Assange's prosecution sets a precedent for criminalising journalism. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Assange's plight is emblematic of broader free speech issues, his Australian lawyer Jennifer Robinson said, and his prosecution sets a precedent for criminalisation of journalism more broadly.

She pointed to Australian whistleblower David McBride, who has been sentenced to five years and eight months' imprisonment for leaking classified information.

"It is unacceptable he's in prison and I cannot stand here today to talk about free speech without mentioning him," she said.

"It's important that everybody continues to rally around the free speech issues ... and continue to demand better free speech protections for journalists here in Australia and in the US and for whistleblowers."

To opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham, Assange is no journalist and leaking classified documents "wasn't an act of heroism".

But Foreign Minister Penny Wong maintained Assange's incarceration had gone on too long.

"Whatever your views about what Mr Assange did, nothing was to be served by him continuing to be incarcerated," she told ABC radio.

And asked whether his exposé days were over, Senator Wong said, "we have laws in this country about the protection of national security information, national security information should be protected, those laws apply to everyone".