A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a London court on Friday her client was indirectly offered a “win-win” deal by President Donald Trump which would see him avoid extradition to the US if he revealed the source of a leak of documents from the Democratic Party before the 2016 election.
Assange, who didn’t reveal the source of the leak of the Democratic National Committee emails, is fighting efforts by the US to extradite him to face an array of charges related to his work at WikiLeaks.
Jennifer Robinson, who has represented WikiLeaks for a decade, relayed to the court Friday via a written statement that her client had been made an offer at a meeting on August 15, 2017, with former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Trump associate Charles Johnson.
In her statement that was read out at London’s Criminal Court, Robinson said the pair “wanted us to believe they were acting on behalf of the president” and that they had stated that Trump was “aware of and had approved of them coming to meet” with Assange to discuss the proposal.
She also said the pair said they would have an audience with the president to discuss the matter on their return to Washington.
Robinson said Rohrabacher had said he had come to London to talk to Assange at his then-refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy about “what might be necessary to get him out,” presenting him with a “win-win situation” that would allow him to leave the embassy and “get on with his life” without fear of being extradited to the US.
US prosecutors have indicted the 49-year-old Assange on 17 espionage charges, and one of computer misuse, over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military documents a decade ago, largely around the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago.
Assange’s lawyers say the prosecution is politically motivated and that he won’t receive a fair trial in the United States.
They also argue that Assange was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.