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January 30, 2017

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says ‘ball in government’s court’ on whether he goes to US to face charges

By PA Media Lawyer

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the ball is in America’s court when pressed on whether his offer to go to the United States now that Chelsea Manning is being released still stands.

Assange was questioned repeatedly by journalist Robert Peston on his ITV show on whether he would be honouring his pledge to be extradited after former President Barack Obama said the whistleblower’s sentence would be commuted.

Assange has been living in the embassy of Ecuador in London for the past four years, avoiding an attempt by Sweden to extradite him over sex attack allegations.

He appeared to be suggesting that the next move in the long-running saga would be a tactical one, but that it was not his to make. He did not rule out going to the United States “under certain circumstances”.

Asked if he would be leaving the embassy following the commutation of Manning’s sentence, he said that it was an “enormous victory” for Wikileaks.

Assange added: “This is a matter of chess.

“There are opponents to that clemency within the Democratic party. Why were they opposed? They were opposed because he’s famously an alleged source of mine.”

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Interrupting the WikiLeaks leader, Peston said: “People really care about this and they care about what happens to you. Are you saying that you’re not yet ready to take the risk of leaving the embassy?

He replied: “We have approached the DoJ (Department of Justice)… saying are they going to drop this case, we say its unconstitutional, it is unlawful, that it should not be pursued, what are they going to do?”

“So you’re going to wait for them?”, Peston asked.

Assange replied: “We haven’t heard back from the DoJ yet, the ball is in their court.

“If to settle the matter requires going to the United States under certain circumstances where my rights are protected, that’s something we want to discuss, but the ball is in the DoJ court.”

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