Donald Trump offered to pardon Julian Assange if the WikiLeaks founder revealed who hacked Democratic party emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, a London court has heard.
Wikileaks published a series of Democratic party emails in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election that US intelligence believes were hacked by Russia.
Russia denied meddling and Mr Trump has denied any campaign collusion with Moscow.
Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said on Friday she observed a meeting where an ally of Mr Trump offered to arrange a pardon in exchange for information that would “benefit President Trump politically”.
The deal was couched as a “win-win” that would enable Assange – who is fighting extradition to the USA on conspiracy and hacking charges – to “get on with his life” and would also politically benefit Mr Trump.
The meeting was held between former Republican US Representative Dana Rohrabacher and Charles Johnson, an associate known to have close ties to the Trump campaign, the court heard.
Ms Robinson said Assange was told Mr Trump approved of the meeting and that Ms Rohrabacher would later meet the president to discuss the reaction to the deal.
“The proposal put forward by Congressman Rohrabacher was that Mr Assange identify the source for the 2016 election publications in return for some form of pardon,” Ms Robinson said in a witness statement given to the court.
Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting to stop being sent to the US where he is charged with conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-11.
The court heard the meeting in 2017 was held in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange had been in refuge since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was accused of sex crimes which were later dropped.
After seven years, he was dragged from the embassy by British police in 2019.