Assange Lawyer: Conditions Not Met For Extradition

Assange Lawyer Conditions Not Met For Extradition

On Wednesday, the attorney for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence does not meet Assange’s predetermined conditions for extradition to the United States.

Obama commuted Manning’s sentence Tuesday, moving the former soldier’s release date to this May as opposed to the original date in 2045. The decision caused many to wonder whether that meant Assange was ready to surrender to the Department of Justice.

“Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning’s sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought,” said Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, via email.

“Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately,” Pollack said.

Manning has been imprisoned for nearly seven years since his 2013 conviction of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses after he stole and leaked 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

Manning, formerly known as Bradley, announced after his sentencing that he was transgender and wanted to be called Chelsea.

He was one of 209 inmates whose sentences Obama shortened Tuesday, along with 64 who received pardons.

Manning began petitioning Obama to shorten his sentence in November, stating within his letter that he takes full responsibility for his actions, which he called “wrong.” He said he did not “intend to harm the interests of the United States.”

WikiLeaks and other advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and various LGBT groups, joined Manning in calling for a pardon. Last month, more than 100,000 people signed an online petition seeking commutation of Manning’s sentence, quickly meeting the required threshold.

Many U.S. military and political officials condemned Obama’s decision.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was “outrageous” and set a “dangerous precedent” that those who compromise U.S. national security no longer will have to pay for their crimes.

However, WikiLeaks and Assange celebrated the president’s decision on Twitter.

Even so, Pollack said that Assange will not agree to extradition.

Though Assange has not been publicly charged with a crime in the United States, his legal team suspects charges may be brought “under seal,” where charges are kept secret to prevent a suspect from preparing an escape.

The Washington Post reported in 2013 the Department of Justice concluded there was no way to bring charges against Assange, and there were no sealed indictments against him.

WikiLeaks reiterated Assange’s earlier trade offer, wherein he agreed to trade extradition to the U.S. for a pardon for Manning.

Assange’s original offer was accompanied by a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in which Pollack argued there is no legitimate basis for continuing the investigation into the WikiLeaks founder.

“If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” tweeted WikiLeaks’s official account Thursday.

On Tuesday, the White House denied any correlation between that tweet and Obama’s decision to reduce Manning’s sentence.

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