Lawyer: No US Extradition For Assange After Chelsea Manning Commutation

Kirsty Wigglesworth

A lawyer representing Julian Assange says the WikiLeaks founder does not plan to extradite himself to the United States, despite the organization promising just last week that he would do so if President Barack Obama granted Chelsea Manning clemency.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that Manning would be released from a military prison in May of this year, rather than serving out her sentence until 2045. But Assange’s lawyer said that does not meet the conditions set by Assange.

“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,” Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, told The Hill. “Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately.”

Yet on Tuesday, another member of Assange’s legal team, Melinda Taylor, had told the Associated Press that Assange was “standing by” his promise to extradite himself to the United States.

WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter last week that Assange would extradite himself to the United States if Manning were granted clemency. The organization made a similar claim in September.

But Assange currently faces neither charges nor an extradition request from the United States. After WikiLeaks published a massive trove of confidential State Department cables leaked by Manning in 2010, then-Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged to the New York Times and other outlets that the Justice Department was considering whether it might indict Assange on a number of possible offenses, including violating the Espionage Act.

Pollack wrote a letter to DOJ in August asking the agency to inform him of the conclusions of its “lengthy criminal investigation” of Assange, which he wrote may be an effort to cloak charges against the WikLleaks founder.

“Specifically,” the letter concluded, “please publicly announce: 1) there are no pending charges against Mr. Assange under seal, or if there are, they will be promptly dismissed; and 2) the continuing criminal investigation of which he is a target will be closed immediately with no criminal charges being brought.”

Manning was convicted for her transmission of classified information to WikiL eaks in 2013, including on six counts under the Espionage Act.