(Newswire.net — February 21, 2020) — Julian Assange’s lawyer claims President Donald Trump has offered a pardon to the founder of WikiLeaks if he says Russia was not involved in email disclosure during the 2016 US election, WSJ reports.
The bid was reportedly conveyed by former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
Assange’s lawyer made the allegations during a preliminary hearing before the Westminster Court ahead of next week’s trial to decide on Assange’s extradition.
A former Republican congressman, however, denies he offered a pardon to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on behalf of US President Donald Trump, BBC reports.
“At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange. Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange,” he said in a statement.
Messages released by WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 presidential election contained devastating details about the Democratic Party and reportedly ruined the chances of its candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Assange had previously denied that he received this material from the Kremlin, although Russian intelligence officers had been accused in America of being involved in the case.
The trial next week will discuss Assange’s extradition to America for 18 counts of releasing of confidential diplomatic documents that contained sensitive content that was meant to be hidden from the public. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 175 years in prison.
Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, told the court there was evidence that former congressman Rohrabacher had made a pardon bid.
Rohrabahcer, known for his open support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange was granted an asylum in August 2017, the lawyer said.
At the time, it was suspected that Russia was behind the embarrassing emails of the Democratic National Committee published by WikiLeaks. However, Assange denied that the Russians had been involved claiming he didn’t get documents from the Russians.
Fitzgerald said Assange’s then attorney, Jennifer Robinson, announced that “Rohrabacher will see Assange and say, on the president’s instructions, that he offers a pardon or some other way out if Assange … says Russia had nothing to do with the leaked information.”
The White House, however, denied these allegations saying that “The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher.”
“It’s a complete fabrication and a lie,” the White House press secretary stressed.
The BBC tried to contact Rohrabacher for comment.
In 2018, Trump praised Rograbacher saying he was a “great congressman” who “works hard and is respected by everyone.” The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2017 that Rohrabacher had contacted the White House in an attempt to secure Assange’s pardon.
Rohrabacher allegedly demanded that Assange provide “proof” that Russia was not the source of the hacked emails released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 US election.
In 2018, the US Department of Justice accused 12 Russian intelligence officers of hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee and candidate Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in a plot to influence the outcome of the presidential election.