WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, on Thursday, reaffirmed that he stood by his offer to be extradited to the U.S. providing his rights were protected. It was only last week that Assange first talked about the extradition under the condition that the 35-year sentence handed over to former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning would be commuted. Just days later, outgoing U.S. president Barack Obama commuted Chelsea's sentence, and she will walk out of prison in May. According to Russia Today, earlier today, in an online press conference beamed live via Periscope, Assange said that he still stands by what he said last week.
"I stand by everything I said including the offer to go to the United States if Chelsea Manning's sentence was commuted. It's not going to be commuted (until) May. We can have many discussions to that point."Chelsea Manning is a former military intelligence analyst who was responsible for the leak of classified documents to Assange's anti-secrecy group back in 2010. Manning was subsequently arrested and later sentenced to 35 years in prison for her crime. Obama, earlier this week, commuted Manning's prison sentence by saying that she had served a "tough prison term" and that justice has been served. President Obama, however, denied that the commutation was decided upon and granted after Julian Assange's offer to be extradited. In the press conference, Assange reiterated that before he agreed for extradition, U.S. authorities should drop their case against him or unseal their charges against him.
"We look forward to having a conversation with the DoJ (Department of Justice) about what the correct way forward is. I've always been willing to go to the United States provided my rights are respected because this is a case that should never have occurred."Assange's lawyer, Melinda Taylor, also echoed what he had to say. In an interview with Russia Today, she said, "Mr. Assange stands by everything what he has said." However, she went on to add that Obama's decision to commute Chelsea Manning's sentence "certainly falls far short of what Miss Manning deserves."
Julian Assange also went ahead and promised that 2017 would be "a big publishing year" for WikiLeaks while adding that he is in love with the publications that WikiLeaks plan to upload in the days to come. Assange was also asked about the fake news narratives that were a key point of discussion during the recent U.S. presidential elections. Assange maintained that WikiLeaks is very proud of its "100 percent record of accuracy."
"Any such list of reliable news, we're going to be at top of, any list of fake news, we're going to be at bottom of. There's a lot of inaccurate reporting in the legacy press, and in new media. We constantly see articles saying I've been charged. Most media doesn't do basic fact checking."He also said that WikiLeaks finds it easier to maintain a record of accuracy when compared to the media owing to the fact that all WikiLeaks reports are backed by documents and related data.
"It's a black and white criteria for us. Either it's an official document or archive, or it isn't."
Continuing with the fake news narrative, Assange said he was also aware of Facebook's attempts to contain fake news. He described the attempts made by Facebook against the spread of fake news as "super interesting."
"Organizations like Facebook are permitting many people to publish billions at the touch of a button -- that's breaking down the control structure," he said. "That is a new circumstance in democracy."Assange was also asked about current U.S. president-elect Donald Trump who is set to be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States tomorrow. According to Assange, the apparent conflict underway between the Trump administration and the CIA will "lead to dissidents and sources in both camps coming forward."
"We've already seen this from the CIA side and the Obama administration with information coming out about Trump," Assange said, referring to the "Trump dossier" that was recently leaked.
Do you think Assange will be extradited to the U.S. now that he has himself asked for it?
[Featured Image by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Images]