Biden Says He’s ‘Considering’ Request to Drop Prosecution of Julian Assange

Mike Powers
Biden Says He’s ‘Considering’ Request to Drop Prosecution of Julian Assange


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (left) with Joe Biden as the two men walk to the Oval Office on April 10, 2024.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (left) with Joe Biden as the two men walk to the Oval Office on April 10, 2024.
Photo: Evan Vucci (AP)

President Joe Biden is considering a request that the U.S. stop its legal proceedings against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who’s currently fighting extradition to the U.S. where he faces 18 federal charges related to his publication of secret military documents.

Biden’s exact words were “we’re considering it” when asked about the Australian request, according to a pool reporter in the the Oval Office Wednesday morning. And while that doesn’t mean the U.S. Department of Justice will necessarily drop its case against Assange, it signals there could be some room for compromise.

The request to drop the prosecution first came from the government of Australia in February after federal members of parliament from the left-leaning Labor Party were joined by one member of the conservative Liberal Party to call for Assange’s release. Assange was born in Australia and still holds Australian citizenship even though he hasn’t lived there for years.

International observers are concerned Assange may face the death penalty if he’s sent to the U.S., a punishment that’s been abolished in every wealthy country aside from the U.S. and Japan. Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since 2019 when he was forcibly dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK, where he’d been living since applying for asylum there in June of 2012.

Assange published secret documents in the early 2010s related to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a video from July 12, 2007, that showed a U.S. helicopter crew shooting and killing journalists. Assange was hailed as an important journalistic voice at the time but came under criticism from the left during the 2016 election cycle when Wikileaks helped circulate unfounded conspiracy theories that Hillary Clinton had ordered the murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic staffer killed in a robbery in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2016. The conspiracy theory was later linked to Russian intelligence, as Gizmodo reported in 2019.

Assange’s case has been championed in recent years by former president Donald Trump, a bizarre spectacle considering it was his Department of Justice that first brought charges against the Wikileaks cofounder. In fact, Reuters reported back in February that Trump personally asked for plans that included kidnapping or killing Assange during his time in office.

But nobody should be surprised Trump would completely change his position to fit the political mood of the month—as we’ve seen on everything from TikTok to abortion.





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