Is Julian Assange Being Extradited To The United States? Obama's Clemency To Chelsea Manning Raises Possibility That Assange Faces Espionage Charges In U.S.

Is Julian Assange Being Extradited To The United States? Obama’s Clemency To Chelsea Manning Raises Possibility That Assange Faces Espionage Charges In U.S.

Julian Assange could soon be on his way to the United States to face espionage charges, with the WikiLeaks founder promising to allow extradition after President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Manning — who at the time was an Army specialist known as Bradley Manning — was convicted of leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks and in 2013 was sentenced to 35 years in prison, the Independent noted. Advocates noted that Manning’s sentence was as much as 10 times longer than similar cases of leaked information, and many whistleblower groups had called for Obama to commute her sentence.

Obama followed through, announcing on Tuesday that the sentence will end on May 17.

Manning transitioned to living as a woman while incarcerated, and attempted suicide twice last year while imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There had been rumors that Chelsea Manning was on the “shortlist” to have her sentence commuted, and Julian Assange made a public bid for Obama to follow through.

As AFP noted, Assange promised to allow extradition to the United States in exchange for Manning’s sentence coming to an end.

“If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (US Department of Justice) case,” WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.

WikiLeaks followed up on Twitter, writing on Tuesday that Assange was ready to face trial in the United States.

But the move to strike down Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence didn’t go over well with everyone. Many Republican leaders decried the move, saying it sets a dangerous precedent for others who leak classified information.

“This is just outrageous. Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes.”

While it’s not entirely clear what specific charges Julian Assange could face in the United States, WikiLeaks linked to a website called justice4assange.com that gave an update on the status of his investigation.

“The US Department of Justice confirmed in its April 2014 court filings that the national security criminal investigation and ‘pending prosecution’ proceed. The FBI is leading the investigation. A dozen other agencies have been involved. See here.”

There is also the chance that Julian Assange’s promise to make himself available for extradition is a bit of showmanship. The WikiLeaks founder has been accused of trying to grab the spotlight for himself and his organization, including a tweet last week that hinted he or other members of the organization could be in danger of being assassinated. The organization noted that none of its members had medical conditions or prescription drugs that put them in danger of sudden death — which appeared to be a heavy-handed implication that the organization feared an assassination meant to look like an accidental death.

While Julian Assange said he is available for extradition, it’s also unclear if the United States has any plans to bring him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has stayed for close to five years.

[Featured Image by Carl Court/Getty Images]

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