Lawyer: As­sange was of­fered US pardon if he cleared Rus­sia

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - WEATHER -

LONDON >> Wik­iLeaks founder Julian As­sange plans to claim dur­ing an ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fered him a pardon if he agreed to say Rus­sia was not in­volved in leak­ing Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee emails dur­ing the 2016 U.S. elec­tion cam­paign, a lawyer for As­sange said Wed­nes­day.

As­sange is be­ing held at a Bri­tish pri­son while fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the United States on spy­ing charges. His full court hear­ing is due to be­gin next week.

At a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing held Wed­nes­day in London, lawyer Ed­ward Fitzger­ald said that now-for­mer Repub­li­can con­gress­man, Dana Rohrabache­r, vis­ited As­sange at the Ecuado­rian Em­bassy in London in Au­gust 2017.

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.”

Re­spond­ing to the the lawyer’s claims, White House press sec­re­tary Stephanie Gr­isham said, “This is ab­so­lutely and com­pletely false.”

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump “barely knows Dana Rohrabache­r other than he’s an ex-con­gress­man. He’s never spo­ken to him on this sub­ject or al­most any sub­ject,” Gr­isham said. “It is a com­plete fab­ri­ca­tion and a to­tal lie. This is prob­a­bly an­other never-end­ing hoax and to­tal lie from the DNC.”

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

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-yearold 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.

KIRSTY WIGGLESWOR­TH — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Badges worn by a demon­stra­tor out­side West­min­ster Mag­is­trates Court in London, Wed­nes­day.

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