Friend: Assange Thought Trump Aides Were 'Clowns'

Extradition fight could last years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2019 4:34 AM CDT
Updated Apr 12, 2019 6:22 AM CDT
Friend: Assange Fears Being Attacked in US Prison
Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor of WikiLeaks, right, and barrister Jennifer Robinson speak to the media outside Westminster magistrates court where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was appearing in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Julian Assange has traded Ecuador's London embassy for a British jail cell, and friend Sean Langan says the WikiLeaks co-founder is very worried about where he might end up next. Langan, a documentary filmmaker, tells ABC that on one of his many visits to the embassy, Assange expressed fears he would be beaten up if he was in a US prison. He says that in "gallows humor" that failed to lift Assange's spirits, he joked that he would probably end up in a Supermax prison where he "wouldn't see a soul." Langan says Assange was "dismissive" of President Trump and rejected suggestions he had been involved in a conspiracy with Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. He says Assange described them as a "bunch of clowns" incapable of organizing a conspiracy. In other developments:

  • Long legal fight ahead. Experts say Assange, who faces a sentence of up to 12 months for breaching bail in Britain in 2012, could spend years fighting extradition to the US, the Times of London reports. Sweden might also seek extradition on the one sex charge that hasn't expired, but the US will be first in line, experts say.

  • Corbyn opposes extradition. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, says Assange should not be sent to the US, the BBC reports. "The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government," he tweeted Thursday.
  • "Nothing to do with Australia." Assange's homeland doesn't seem eager to help him. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that extradition plans had "nothing to do with Australia" and Assange would receive only standard consular assistance, the AP reports. Foreign Minister Marise Payne later said Australia would oppose the death penalty if Assange is extradited to the US.
  • The US charge. American prosecutors have charged Assange with "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion" for allegedly trying to help Chelsea Manning hack into a Defense Department computer, but his lawyers say the case raises First Amendment concerns and the arrest should worry all journalists, the New York Times reports. "The factual allegations against Mr. Assange boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source," says Assange lawyer Barry Pollack.

  • The view from Ecuador. There were protests in Quito Thursday over President Lenin Moreno's decision to withdraw Assange's asylum status, but sympathy for Assange, viewed by many as ungrateful and troublesome, has long been declining in Ecuador, which has been seeking better relations with the US, the Washington Post reports. "The patience of Ecuador has reached its limits," Moreno said after Assange was arrested.
  • Trump's shifting positions. The Guardian looks at how President Trump's position on Assange and WikiLeaks has shifted since 2010, when he said Assange deserved the death penalty for leaking classified US information. On the campaign trail in 2016, he said he "loved" WikiLeaks and mentioned it 141 times in the campaign's final month, per MSNBC's count. But when asked about Assange's arrest Thursday, he said: "I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing."
  • Hillary Clinton speaks out. Hillary Clinton, speaking at an event in New York on Thursday night, said Assange needs to "answer for what he has done," CNN reports. In a move believed to have damaged her 2016 campaign, WikiLeaks released stolen internal communications from her campaign and the Democratic National Committee. "I do think it's a little ironic that he may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States," she said.
(More Julian Assange stories.)

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