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Assange lawyers claims Trump offered pardon to deny Russia links

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US President Donald Trump offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a US presidential pardon or “some way out” two years ago, according to evidence to be presented at his London extradition trial.

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At a final administrative hearing in Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Assange’s barrister Edward Fitzgerald revealed that fellow defence solicitor Jennifer Robinson will outline the pardon offer in a statement to the trial starting on Monday.

He said Robinson’s statement will describe how then Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher had visited the Australian in the Ecuadorian embassy to offer him a deal back in 2017.

Fitzgerald alluded to the deal requiring Assange to deny Russian links to the hacking and leaking of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) emails before the 2016 elections.

“Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president (Trump), he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange would say the Russians had nothing to do with the DNC leaks,” Fitzgerald told the court.

While former Congressman Rohrabacher’s meeting with Assange is already public knowledge, until now it has been reported that he did so on his own initiative rather than under the orders of President Trump.

However, the White House was quick to refute the comments about the statement, which is yet to be fully revealed.

“The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman. He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is … a complete fabrication and a total lie. This is probably another never-ending hoax and total lie from the DNC,” spokesperson Stephanie Grisham told DPA.

Assange, dressed in a brown sweater and white shirt with black trousers, calmly read through documents during the revelation.

The 48-year-old will begin his legal challenge against extradition to the US to faces charges including 17 counts of spying and one of conspiring to commit computer intrusion.

Those charges relate to Wikileaks’ 2010 release of thousands of classified Pentagon files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, some of which revealed war crimes and the torture of prisoners, along with US diplomatic cables.

The Australian is facing up to 175 years in prison if convicted in the US.

-AAP

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