Turns out President Donald Trump doesn’t love WikiLeaks after all. While the president had previously voiced support for WikiLeaks, which has been tied to the release of hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign, it was ultimately the Trump administration that pushed for and secured Julian Assange’s arrest.
The Obama administration had largely sidestepped the case against Assange, who had spent years in diplomatic exile inside the Ecuadorian embassy. However, Ecuador moved to exile the exile; Assange is now in the custody of British law enforcement.
The case against Assange and WikiLeaks is far from clear cut, however. Prosecutors in the past have worried that they would not be able to get charges to stick because Assange may merely be a publisher. As such, his rights are protected under free speech. This is one of the reasons the Obama administration never made a serious push.
However, the single court indictment alleges that WikiLeaks conspired with Chelsea Manning to crack a password so she could log onto Department of Defense computers anonymously. It’s not clear if these efforts ever succeeded but it may constitute a crime. The UK is also more likely to extradite Assange for such a charge.
Prosecutors have just 60 days to present a final case to authorities in the United Kingdom. While the United States and the United Kingdom have extradition agreements, there is no guarantee that Assange will be extradited. He is next due to appear in court in London in May.
Chelsea Manning had been sentenced to jail for 35 years after sharing classified documents with WikiLeaks. However, she was pardoned by President Obama shortly before he left office. Prosecutors have been trying to compel Manning to hand over more information regarding Assange but she has claimed that she has already provided all the info she possessed.