WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Sticks to Extradition
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pledged last week, via a Twitter message, that he would accept extradition to the United States if President Barack Obama agreed to grant clemency to Chelsea Manning. Manning is the U.S. soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. It appears Assange is sticking to his word following Obama commuting Manning’s sentence yesterday. His lawyer, Melinda Taylor, made it clear that Assange is “standing by” what he said.
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 after he submitted an asylum request to the country. During these last years he has never left the compound. Ecuador temporarily cut off his internet toward the end of the recent presidential campaign. Ecuador cited concerns about interfering in the United States’ domestic affairs. Ecuador’s minister of foreign affairs, Guillaume Long said, “Ecuador acted within international law…on the basis of a strong suspicion that there could have been a case of political persecution. We thought there was.” As a result, the country plans to continue providing him with political refuge, unless he interferes in the affairs of Ecuador or the UK.
Assange is still wanted in Sweden on a rape charge. Assange denied the accusations and has said in the past that he fears US extradition if he were to leave the embassy.
The White House said Tuesday that Assange’s pledge didn’t play a role in its decision to commute Manning’s sentence.