by Amna El Tawil
WikiLeaks indicated that Julian Assange is going to face extradition to the United States and leave the Ecuadorian embassy where he currently resides. As a reminder, Mr. Assange promised last week he would hand himself in if the current president of the United States grants clemency to Chelsea Manning.
In the meantime, Obama used his final hours of the presidency to free the former soldier, who was jailed for handing over classified documents to Wikileaks. Last week, WikiLeaks tweeted: “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (Department of Justice) case.”
If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case t.co/MZU30SlfGK
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 12, 2017
A member of Assange’s legal team, Melinda Taylor, insisted that the previous comments made about the implications of the Manning case still stand. “Everything that he has said he’s standing by,” she said.
Assange lawyer @themtchair on Assange-Manning extradition ‘deal’: “Everything that he has said he’s standing by.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 18, 2017
At this point, it is unclear whether Assange is really going to hand himself in, when is that going to happen, and how.
The Guardian reports that Assange welcomed Obama’s decision to free Manning, who passed 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks. “Your courage and determination made the impossible possible,” Assange said in a statement thanking campaigners for their efforts to get her released.
At the same time, the White House denies that Assange’s pledge to be extradited to the US made no influence on the decision to free Manning. The White House official said: “The president’s decision to offer commutation was not influenced by public comments by Mr. Assange or the WikiLeaks organization. I have no insight into Mr. Assange’s travel plans. I can’t speak to any charges or potential charges he may be facing from the justice department.”
It remains to be seen whether Julian Assange will fulfill his promise and agree to the extradition to the United States.