Now that President Barack Obama has granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, does this mean that Julian Assange is going to allow himself to be extradited to the United States? Assange has been pushing for Manning to be pardoned or granted clemency, and once said he would turn himself into the U.S. government in exchange for her freedom. However, a White House official has said that the clemency granted to Manning had nothing to do with Assange’s offer.
Here’s what you need to know.
Assange Offered to Face Extradition in Exchange for Manning Getting Clemency
WikiLeaks and Assange have not said anything official about Assange’s extradition offer. It’s not yet known if he still plans to allow himself to be extradited. It seems unlikely that Assange would turn himself in if there were no talks going on behind-the-scenes about Obama granting clemency in exchange for Assange’s extradition, and a White House official has said that Obama’s decision had nothing to do with Assange’s offer. Until Assange says anything publicly about the offer, it’s unclear what’s going to happen to him next — if anything.
The most public thing stated after Manning’s clemency announcement is still leaving people wondering what’s going to happen:
It’s unclear what “Everything that he has said he’s standing by” actually means, however.
Just a few days ago, Assange reiterated again that he would agree to U.S. extradition if Obama granted clemency to Manning, despite “clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case.” Here’s a tweet that WikiLeaks shared about the offer:
Assange released a statement via WikiLeaks’ Twitter account right after the announcement about Manning, but he did not address the extradition question:
So far, the only other thing WikiLeaks has said publicly about Manning’s clemency is a tweet in support of the decision and a statement about Manning that Assange released in 2013.
The WikiLeaks Task Force Twitter account has also not yet said anything specifically related to Assange’s extradition. This account was set up as the “official WikiLeaks support account” to “correct misinformation,” according to their profile.
Assange has been at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over four years, The Hill reported. If he were extradited to the United States, he might face espionage charges. In 2010, Swedish authorities sought Assange’s arrest over sexual assault allegations, during the height of WikiLeaks’ largest drop up to that time. Assange was put under house arrest and Sweden called for his extradition, Time reported. Ecuador then granted Assange asylum. In November 2016, Swedish prosecutors and Ecuadorian officials met with Assange at the embassy about his sexual assault allegations. Some of the allegations expired due to the statute of limitations in August 2015, ABC reported, but questioning over a rape allegation is still being pursued, and the statute on that one does not expire until 2020. However, as the WikiLeaks Task Force has said just today, Assange was never actually charged in Sweden, but he was sought for questioning over assault allegations.
During the presidential election, with rumors that Russians had hacked the DNC, Assange repeatedly stated that none of WikiLeaks’ information came from Russia.
A White House Official Said Obama’s Decision Had Nothing To Do with Assange’s Offer
Manning was serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified material. Her sentence was decreased and she’ll be released on May 17. Manning had official asked Obama for clemency in November. In 2016, she attempted suicide twice and went on a hunger strike.
A CNBC reporter tweeted that according to a White House official, Obama’s decision to grant clemency to Manning had nothing to do with Assange’s offer. Because of this, it seems unlikely Assange will be facing extradition.
Since Manning isn’t actually being freed until May, there’s still a chance that things could change somehow once President-Elect Donald Trump takes office. So if Assange were to turn himself in, it seems unlikely that he would do so before Manning was actually free.
Viewpoints on what Assange should do are divided. Those who support Assange and WikiLeaks believe it would be a huge loss if Assange were to turn himself in:
Others have stated that they believe Assange should turn himself in:
Do you think Assange should allow himself to be extradited to the United States now that Manning has been granted clemency? Let us know in the comments below. We will update this story as more information is available.