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World Lawyer: Assange was offered US pardon if he cleared Russia

20:50  19 february  2020
20:50  19 february  2020 Source:   msn.com

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LONDON (AP) — A lawyer for Julian Assange said Wednesday that the WikiLeaks founder plans to claim during his extradition hearing that he was offered a pardon by the Trump administration if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Badges worn by a demonstrator outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. A case-management hearing regarding Julian Assange will be heard at the court Wednesday. It comes just five days before the extradition hearing beginning Feb. 24, at Woolwich Crown Court, in which both Julian Assange and the broader issues of press freedom will be at stake. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)© Provided by Associated Press Badges worn by a demonstrator outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. A case-management hearing regarding Julian Assange will be heard at the court Wednesday. It comes just five days before the extradition hearing beginning Feb. 24, at Woolwich Crown Court, in which both Julian Assange and the broader issues of press freedom will be at stake. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Assange is fighting extradition to the United States on spying charges, and his full court hearing is due to begin next week.

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At a preliminary hearing, lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said that in August 2017, then-Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Fitzgerald said a statement from another Assange lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, recounted "Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr. Assange ... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A demonstrator supporting Julian Assange wears a mask and chains outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. Assange is scheduled to be presented before the court by videolink, for a case management hearing ahead of his full extradition trial which begins on Feb. 24. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)© Provided by Associated Press A demonstrator supporting Julian Assange wears a mask and chains outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. Assange is scheduled to be presented before the court by videolink, for a case management hearing ahead of his full extradition trial which begins on Feb. 24. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Emails embarrassing for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign were hacked before being published by WikiLeaks in 2016.

US to lay out case against Assange at extradition hearing

  US to lay out case against Assange at extradition hearing The U.S. government and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will face off Monday in a high-security London courthouse, a decade after WikiLeaks infuriated American officials by publishing a trove of classified military documents. A judge at Woolwich Crown Court will begin hearing arguments from lawyers for U.S. authorities, who want to try Assange on espionage charges that carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said the evidence was admissible in the extradition case.

Assange appeared at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday by video-link from Belmarsh prison, where he is being held as he awaits his extradition hearing.

U.S. prosecutors have charged the 48-year-old Australian computer hacker with espionage over WikiLeaks' hacking of hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents. If found guilty, he faces up to 175 years in jail.

He argues he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

Assange spent seven years in Ecuador’s embassy after holing up there in 2012 to avoid questioning in Sweden over unrelated sexual assault allegations.

Assange was evicted from the embassy in April 2019 and was arrested by British police for jumping bail in 2012. In November, Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigation because so much time had elapsed.

There is no quick end in sight to Assange’s long legal saga. His full extradition hearing is due to begin with a week of legal argument starting Monday. It will resume in May, and a ruling is not expected for several months, with the losing side likely to appeal.

Supporters of Julian Assange demonstrate in London against his extradition .
© REUTERS / Peter Nicholls WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsonn, Julian Assange's father, John Shipton, and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, during the London demonstration , February 22, 2020. Two days before the start of Julian Assange's hearing, a protest against his possible extradition to the United States took place in London this Saturday, February 22. Thousands of protesters marched to demand the release of the founder of WikiLeaks.

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