News World Julian Assange talks Clinton leak, US extradition with Waleed Aly

Julian Assange talks Clinton leak, US extradition with Waleed Aly

Julian Assange the project
Julian Assange spoke to The Project about the Democratic party, Russian sources and Chelsea Manning. Photo: The Project
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WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange accused the Democratic Party of hypocrisy in a sometimes tense interview with The Project host Waleed Aly, in which he back-pedalled on his pledge to accept extradition to the US.

Mr Assange, once considered a darling of the left-wing, has been condemned by the Democrats for releasing emails – considered by US intelligence agencies to be hacked by the Russian government – that undermined Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and helped deliver Donald Trump to the White House.

Mr Assange labelled the Democrats as “hypocritical” for their claims.

“Has it been hypocritical for Democrats in the United States to go from applauding our publications about (former president) Bush to being utterly savage and disgusting about our publications about Clinton? Of course it’s hypocritical. That’s politics,” he told Aly.

WikiLeaks, which exposed the actions of former president George W. Bush and the Republican Party leading up to the invasion of Iraq, is now the hero of the new American right after publishing Mrs Clinton’s emails.

Mr Assange claimed his source of the leaked emails was not a member of the Russian government, but would not speak to any possible affiliations.

“I can state clearly, and have stated clearly, that our source is not a member of the Russian government,” he said.

When asked to explain further and confirm there was no involvement from Russia in the leak, Mr Assange refused to comment.

“I am not saying anything else other than what we have said because we can’t play 20 questions about our sources. We can’t eliminate this or that,” he said.

‘I’m not a complete idiot’

Mr Assange earlier this month said he’d accept possible extradition to the US to face charges over breaching national security in exchange for the early release of former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

But he backtracked on his pledge to leave the Ecuadorian embassy, telling Aly he will only leave his sanctuary of the past four-and-a-half years when the US strikes a deal in its case against him.

When asked why the change of heart, his response was: “Because I’m not an idiot! I am not a complete idiot!”

Julian Assange interview
Julian Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy for four and a half years. Photo: Getty

“We had a major strategic victory in liberating Chelsea Manning, the most significant alleged whistleblower in the last 10 years but, of course, saying I’m willing to accept extradition doesn’t mean I’m saying that I’m willing to be a complete idiot and throw all my lawyers away and so on,” he said.

“We are going to have a discussion with the DoJ (US Department of Justice) about what that looks like. The ball is in their court.”

Ms Manning’s sentence was commuted by then-president Barack Obama a few weeks after Mr Assange’s pledge – however according to Mr Assange, the decision was to get back at the WikiLeaks founder.

“Let’s look at it from their perspective. If we give Chelsea Manning clemency what’s the result? It’s going to make life hard for Assange,” he told Aly.

“Either he’s going to get extradited to the United States or we are going to show he’s a liar, and both of those things are going to make life hard for Assange, and therefore it’s ok to pardon Chelsea Manning. And that’s what happened.”

Ms Manning, formerly known as US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, was serving a 35-year sentence for leaking 750,000 pages of classified US documents to WikiLeaks.

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