Julian Assange reportedly plans to call a witness in his trial who will allege that Trump offered him a pardon if he denied that Russia hacked the DNC

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Julian Assange reportedly plans to call a witness in his trial who will allege that Trump offered him a pardon if he denied that Russia hacked the DNC

julian assange

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reportedly plans to call a witness at his extradition trial who will allege that Assange was offered a presidential pardon if he denied Russia's involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.
  • According to Al Jazeera, the person who made the offer to Assange was Dana Rohrabacher, a former US Republican congressman known for his pro-Russia stance.
  • According to The Daily Beast, Rohrabacher told Assange he was acting on President Donald Trump's direct orders.
  • Assange and WikiLeaks were at the center of the former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation for their involvement in facilitating Russia's efforts to disseminate hacked Democratic emails to hurt the Hillary Clinton campaign.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Lawyers for Julian Assange, the founder of the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks, told a court that he plans to call a witness who will allege that Assange was offered a presidential pardon if he said Russia was not involved in hacking and stealing information from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US election.

That's according to James Doleman, a British court and technology reporter.

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Doleman said that Assange's team claims the witness will allege that Assange was offered a pardon if he would "play ball."

Sonia Gallego, an Al Jazeera reporter, also confirmed the news, saying it was revealed at the hearing that Dana Rohrabacher, a former US Republican congressman known for his pro-Russia stance, told Assange during a meeting at the Ecuadorian embassy in London that President Donald Trump would pardon Assange if he denied Russia's involvement in the DNC hack.

According to The Daily Beast, Rohrabacher told Assange he was acting on Trump's direct orders and offered a pardon if Assange said Russia had nothing to do with hacking the DNC.

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The bombshell development came during a pre-trial hearing at the Westminster Magistrate's court in the UK related to the US government's extradition case against Assange.

The Justice Department charged Assange last year with 18 counts including conspiracy to hack classified US government computers and violating espionage laws. The charges are linked to his activities with the former US soldier Chelsea Manning, with whom he leaked a huge trove of state secrets via WikiLeaks in 2010.

The government characterized the leak as "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States."

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The DOJ has been investigating Assange since 2010 for his alleged role in obtaining and disseminating sensitive information pertaining to US national security interests, and the charges against him were not entirely unexpected.

Assange was staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London as an asylum-seeker until last April, when the embassy revoked his political asylum, alleging a litany of bad behavior during his years-long stay.

Shortly after, British police arrested Assange and took him to court, where he was convicted of breaching bail conditions in the UK. The US has since been working to get Assange extradited to face trial.

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According to Reuters, Assange appeared at his pre-trial hearing via video conference from prison and he spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

The charges against Assange do not relate to WikiLeaks' involvement in helping the Russian government disseminate stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

Assange and WikiLeaks were at the center of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.

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In an indictment charging 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into the DNC and disseminating stolen emails, Mueller's office mentioned WikiLeaks - though not by name - as the Russians' conduit to release hacked documents via the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, who is believed to be a front for Russian military intelligence.

WikiLeaks touts itself as an independent organization, but US intelligence believes the group to be a propaganda tool for the Kremlin. While still serving as CIA director, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterized WikiLeaks as a "nonstate hostile intelligence service."

The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors were weighing whether to publicly charge Assange, as they did with the Russian nationals who have been indicted as part of the Russia investigation, to force the Ecuadorian embassy to turn him over to the US.

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