A week before Obama commuted the sentence of whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange repeated his willingness to accept U.S. extradition — provided he was given a fair day in court.
If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case https://t.co/MZU30SlfGK
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 12, 2017
Shortly after Obama’s official announcement, Assange celebrated with a broad coalition of supporters after working tirelessly to spread awareness of Manning’s plight. For those still in the dark, Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) is a US Army soldier convicted by court-martial of stealing and disseminating classified government intelligence after leaking over 750,000 documents to Wikileaks in July 2013.
VICTORY: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to 7. Release date now May 17. Background: https://t.co/HndsbVbRer
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 17, 2017
The Obama White House on Tuesday championed the number of commutations that occurred under it’s administration, ordering 1,385 shortened sentences and a total of 212 pardons during his 8-year presidency. While these actions are admirable, they share the spotlight with another record set by the departing president: more whistleblowers have been jailed under the Espionage Act (a WW1 act written in 1917 to combat german sabetours) than any of his predecessors. Additionally, Obama has handed out more jail time prosecuting whistleblowers than all other administrations combined, a total of 751 months of prison time — just shy of 63 years.
In a Q&A on Periscope today Assange took questions and reiterated his strong disagreement with U.S. implications that publishing leaked documents constitutes “electronic terrorism”, arguing that if investigative journalists are no longer allowed to publish sensitive and sometimes secret information from unnamed sources that is of public interest, government would be allowed to operate independent of accountability. He also criticized journalists pushing for censorship, accusing several of inaccurate reporting that is “not loyal to protecting the basic interest of the press, the American people and people globally.”
The extradition would occur under the Trump administration. While Assange feels confident he will be vindicated should he be granted a fair hearing, he also acknowledged the big fight ahead for Wikileaks in 2017, pledging to continue publishing throughout Trump’s presidency and beyond.
Want to help? Donate to Assange’s legal defense fund.