WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last week offered to submit himself to extradition to the United States in return for clemency for whistleblower Chelsea Manning. After President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence yesterday, Assange’s status became the next obvious question.
Assange, however, is also conditioning his willingness to go to the United States on having his rights under US law guaranteed in any potential legal trial, a huge if given recent US reactions to whistleblowers and the number of officials who have called for his death.
Assange representatives are also arguing that the commuted sentence is short of clemency, particularly since Manning isn’t actually being released yet, though the biggest question mark on the whole issue is that the US hasn’t publicly charged Assange with anything, not publicly requested his extradition at all.
Justice Department officials are regularly hinting at investigations and other moves against Assange, and there is some reason to believe there may be a secret indictment on the books just waiting for Assange to be some place that the US can get ahold of him.
For the time being, however, it seems safe to assume Assange will remain in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, and probably isn’t going to impact ongoing efforts by Sweden to extradite him for questioning.