Last week, WikiLeaks pledged that if President Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, the former Army soldier serving a 35-year prison sentence for espionage, Julian Assange would agree to extradition to the U.S.
Assange will have a chance to make good on that promise after the White House announced in a surprise move on Tuesday that Manning’s sentence is being commuted.
Manning, who formerly went by “Bradley,” was court-martialed in 2013 for stealing nearly one million classified documents from Defense Department computers. The former Army intelligence analyst will leave prison in May. (RELATED: WIKILEAKS: Julian Assange Agrees To US Extradition On One Condition)
Assange’s lawyer, Melinda Taylor, issued a statement through WikiLeaks after the White House decision saying that the Australian national will follow through with the pledge.
“Everything that he has said he’s standing by,” she said in a statement through WikiLeaks. The group said in a tweet that Assange is “confident of winning any fair trial” in the U.S.
WikiLeaks, which published the documents Manning stole, lobbied heavily for Manning’s release. The anti-secrecy group upped the ante last week by dangling Assange, who resides in exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The status of the U.S. government’s investigation of the Australian national is not entirely clear. Still up in the air is whether Assange is even the subject of an extradition request from the U.S. government. The Swedish government currently has an extradition request pending in order to question Assange in a sexual assault investigation against him that is ongoing.
Assange has refused to comply with that request for fear, he says, of being extradited to the U.S. He has said that he believes he could face the death penalty here.
This post has been updated to reflect a statement from Assange’s lawyer that he will make good on his promise to accept extradition to the U.S.