A lawyer for Julian Assange spoke in court on Wednesday, claiming that a former Republican congressman had offered the WikiLeaks founder a presidential pardon. This pardon was in exchange for the denial of Russian involvement in the Democratic National Committee’s 2016 email hack.
Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court on February 19 that former Congresswoman Dana Rohrabacher of California’s 48th District had spoken to his client on behalf of the US President. The congresswoman had offered a presidential pardon by Trump if he would “play along”. To do so, he had to publicly declare that the Russians had not been involved in the DNC hack. Rohrabacher admitted to having visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and to having spoken with him.
The founder of WikiLeaks had been granted asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship, but lost both again on April 11, 2019. He was subsequently arrested by the British authorities and is awaiting an extradition hearing in order to be tried in the United States.
Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections
Assange had previously stated that he did not believe that Russia was involved in the hack. However, leading members of the US secret service agree that Russia was directly responsible for the hack.
Both the White House and Rohrabacher have denied any involvement in Fitzgerald’s allegations. Although Trump did not comment on Twitter as usual. However, Wikileaks published the following statement after the hearing:
“Chronology is important: the meeting and the offer were made ten months after Julian Asyange’s statement that Russia was not the source of the DNC hack. The testimony is one of many explosives used by the defence that are yet to come”.
Assange has long been a proponent of the use of crypto-currencies to circumvent government oversight. Accordingly, his legal fees are currently paid for by Bitcoin donations via k.im, a company founded by entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.