Biden on Assange: I'm 'Considering' Australia's Ask

The WikiLeaks founder's native country wants the US to drop its extradition bid
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 10, 2024 2:20 PM CDT
Biden 'Considering' Australia's Request Regarding Assange
Assange supporters demonstrate outside the British Consulate in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, March 26, 2024.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The US has been trying to extradite Julian Assange for more than a decade, a move that his native Australia has long opposed. President Biden on Wednesday told reporters he is "considering" Australia's request to drop the case. The BBC reports Australia's parliament in February passed a measure calling for Assange to be returned home. As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese put it, "People will have a range of views about Mr. Assange's conduct ... but regardless of where people stand, this thing cannot just go on and on and on indefinitely." In response to a reporter's question, Biden said "we're considering it."

Assange was indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks' publication of classified US documents. US prosecutors allege Assange, 52, encouraged and helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published, putting lives at risk. The AP reports Australia argues there is a disconnect between the US treatment of Assange and Manning. Then-US President Barack Obama commuted Manning's 35-year sentence to seven years, allowing her release in 2017.

NBC News reports Assange spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the last five years in Belmarsh Prison outside London. A British court ruled last month that Assange can't be extradited to the United States on espionage charges unless US authorities guarantee he won't get the death penalty. The case has been adjourned until May 20. (More Julian Assange stories.)

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