Julian Assange under pressure to hand himself in for extradition following Manning commutation

The 45-year-old has been in London's Ecuadorian Embassy for more than four years

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 17 January 2017 22:44 GMT
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(AP)

Will Wikileaks founder Julian Assange now hand himself over to be extradited to the US?

Last week, Mr Assange said on that he would give up his sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than four years, if Barack Obama showed "clemency" to whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

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

Mr Assange has been in self-imposed exile at the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault charges. Mr Assange could also face possible espionage charges in the United States.

Ms Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified material, had been on a shortlist for a possible sentence commutation by Mr Obama.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Ms Manning was among 273 individuals to either be pardoned or receive commutations.

Her lawyers said Ms Manning was had already served the longest sentence of “any whistleblower in American history”. The Hill said she attempted suicide twice in 2016 and went on a hunger strike to get the military to provide gender reassignment surgery.

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In December, a petition asking Mr Obama to commute Ms Manning’s sentence gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

“Today, 273 individuals learned that the President has given them a second chance,” wrote Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President.

“With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals – the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history.”

On Tuesday night, there was no immediate word from Mr Assange. However, in a tweet, Wikileaks, wrote: "VICTORY: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to 7. Release date now May 17."

Meanwhile, fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden, said: "In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!"

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