Julian Assange Repeats Offer Of Extradition to U.S.

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has claimed asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on accusations of rape, said on Thursday that he stood by his offer to be extradited to the United States provided “his rights” would be “protected.”

Last autumn and again last week, Mr. Assange, 45, wrote on Twitter that he would accept extradition if the former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning were freed. On Wednesday, President Obama commuted Ms. Manning’s 35-year sentence, meaning she will be released in May.

Ms. Manning, as American soldier Bradley Manning, passed 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks and, as a result, was court-martialed and convicted.

In an online news conference on Thursday, Mr. Assange repeated that “I stand by everything I said, including the offer to go to the United States if Chelsea Manning’s sentence was commuted.” But “it’s not going to be commuted” until May, he said. “We can have many discussions to that point.”

In other words, not now. The other issue for Mr. Assange is that there is no public indictment of him from the United States and no extradition order. American officials have not requested that he come to the United States.

There is, however, an extradition order from Sweden, as it investigates a 2010 accusation of rape. He has not been charged by Sweden, but he faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

In 2012, Mr. Assange fled to the Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. He has remained there, unable to leave. He insists that if he went to Sweden, he would be sent to the United States to face charges, suggesting that there is a secret indictment facing him.

Asked at the news conference why he is willing to go to the United States where there is no public extradition order and not willing to go to Sweden, Mr. Assange said that American and British officials refused to tell his lawyers whether there was a sealed indictment or a sealed extradition order against him.

“In the U.S. that’s exactly the problem,” he said. “Is there an extradition order? Is there a charge? The U.S. Justice Department operates exactly as if there is a sealed indictment,” he said. “The British government refuses to confirm or deny if there is an extradition order.”

Mr. Assange said that either there was “a deliberate attempt by the U.S. Justice Department to keep me and WikiLeaks in a state of uncertainty, abusing the process,” or, he said, “there is a sealed indictment.”

“I’ve always been willing to go to the United States provided my rights are respected, because this is a case that should never have occurred,” Mr. Assange said, adding that he was confident of winning any case brought against him.

The F.B.I. continues to investigate the Manning leaks. Any decision on whether to charge or to extradite Mr. Assange will now fall to the administration of Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump, who criticized WikiLeaks for the Manning leaks, has praised the organization and Mr. Assange for publishing hacked emails from senior Democrats and the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign.(NYT)

© 2019 Asian Mirror (pvt) Ltd