Did anybody think Julian Assange was serious about accepting extradition? The WikiLeaks head, who has been hiding in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, tweeted just before Chelsea Manning’s sentence was commuted that if Manning were released, he’d make himself available for extradition. Now, however, Assange is backing out.
Why? Assange claims it’s because the conditions of his bargain weren’t met, according to the Hill:
“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.”
It’s worth noting that, officially, there is no warrant out on Assange for any crime in the United States. His team claims that a warrant for Assange is “under seal” and that if he steps outside the embassy, he’ll be arrested. There is, however, a warrant out on him in Britain for violating the terms of his bail and a second warrant for him in Sweden. Swedish authorities want Assange to come in for questioning about sexual assault allegations leveled against him. Assange has been accused by two Swedish women of forcing them to have unprotected sex, ripping the clothes off of one woman, and assaulting another in her sleep. Assange claims both encounters were consensual and has yet to be indicted on any crime.
Nonetheless, he has repeatedly attempted to overturn the Swedish warrant, and just before he made his offer, Swedish courts struck down yet another attempt to remove that warrant. Assange has claimed, repeatedly, that if he goes to Sweden, he will be extradited to the United States, although foreign policy experts find this incredibly unlikely due to the nature of the extradition treaties between the two countries. He was finally questioned by Swedish authorities in the embassy in late November. There has been no reported progress on the case since.
(via The Hill)