Julian Assange’s lawyer says that Donald Trump favored the co-founder of Wikileaks when he said the Russians did not play a role in leaking DNC emails
- Assange is being sought on 18 charges in the US for conspiracy to uncover state secrets
- He appeared today via video link from Belmarsh Prison, South East London
- His lawyer said the case is not yet ready, so the extradition session will end in June
Julian Assange’s attorney today told a court that Donald Trump had offered the co-founder of Wikileaks pardon if he said the Russians were not involved in leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Assange, 48, is being sought in the US for alleged conspiracy with army information analyst Chelsea Manning to reveal military secrets between January and May 2010.
He has been charged with 18 charges – 17 of which are under the Espionage Act – including conspiracy to receive, obtain and disclose classified diplomatic and military documents.
But Fitange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, said former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher told the founder of WikiLeaks that he would be pardoned if he denied Russian manipulation.
The 48-year-old appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via a video link from the Belmarsh Prison in a brown sweater and a white shirt with black jeans and sneakers. He seemed calm as he rushed through court documents.
The Australian is being held in jail with maximum security, including the home of terrorists and serial killers, before his four-week extradition session begins on February 24.
But the court was told today that the case will be split into two parts, the first for a week from February 24 and the second for three weeks from May 18.
Julian Assange’s lawyer (pictured in a left-hand prison van in January) claimed today that Donald Trump (right) would grant him grace if he said the Russians had nothing to do with his election victory
Edward Fitzgerald, QC, who represents Assange, said a witness statement would refer to “Mr. Rohrabacher who is going to visit Mr. Assange and says, by order of the president, some other way out if Mr. Assange said the Russians had nothing to do with the DNC. “
He also revealed that he would rely on the Manning case to plead for Assange to stay in the UK.
Manning is a former American soldier who was taken prisoner in court after he disclosed nearly 750,000 military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
She was imprisoned from 2010 to 2017 when her sentence was changed, but Manning is currently in prison for her continued refusal to testify before a big jury against Assange.
“Chelsea Manning’s plea and limitation for the military commission has important passages that we will rely on, so we would try to figure this out and important press reports so that the court has important materials.”
Fitzgerald said, “What we say is that it is abuse to request extradition for a political offense, so that is really part of the abuse argument.”
The 48-year-old appeared today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (protesters shown outside) via a video link from the Belmarsh Prison
The public gallery was packed with supporters when the court heard that Assange’s four-week extradition hearing will begin next week.
Assange went into hiding in 2012 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to prevent extradition to Sweden for allegations of sexual crimes that he has always denied.
He was imprisoned for 50 weeks last April after he had breached his bail conditions when the asylum period he was granted expired.
In November, the Swedish authorities dropped the allegations of rape against him in 2010.
Assange has been in custody since he was dramatically removed from the embassy building of Ecuador in April last year.
He will then appear on February 24 in Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court.
Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, is pictured outside the Belmarsh prison, where his son is being held yesterday amid protests