WikiLeaks to US: Assange will turn himself in if you pardon Manning
WASHINGTON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would agree to serve prison time in the United States in exchange for President Barack Obama granting clemency to Chelsea Manning, the group’s Twitter account said Thursday.
“If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange — despite its clear unlawfulness,” the group said.
An attorney for Assange, Barry Pollack, told CNN Thursday that the deal would have to include a pardon for Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks in what has been described as the largest leak of classified material in US history. Manning was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges against her, including violations of the US Espionage Act.
Assange has been granted political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he fights extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations. He has said he fears extradition to Sweden could lead to another extradition to the US, where he could face the death penalty if he is charged and convicted of publishing government secrets through WikiLeaks.
Thursday’s tweet offering the deal was posted along with a letter from Pollack addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that pressed the Department of Justice to provide information about its ongoing criminal investigation into his client.
Pollack argued in the letter, which was written last month, that over the course of the investigation into Assange, which is in its sixth year, the Justice Department “revised the department’s regulations with respect to obtaining evidence from and charging members of the news media.”
Pollack also said “the department publicly announced it was closing its criminal investigation of the handling of classified information by Hillary Clinton,” as another development that justifies more transparency into the case against Assange.
The Justice Department told CNN it was unaware of any deal being offered by Assange or his representatives. A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, where he would be prosecuted, had no comment.