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Snowden urges Trump to grant Assange clemency

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Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor charged with espionage in 2013, on Thursday urged President Trump to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life,” Snowden wrote in a tweet, tagging Trump. 

Snowden — who released classified documents on surveillance programs — fled to Hong Kong, and later to Moscow, to seek asylum. He tweeted last month that he and his wife were applying for Russian citizenship. 

Meanwhile, Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in prison if convicted of charges of conspiring to hack government computers and for violating the 1917 Espionage Act for “unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence.” 

The London judge overseeing Assange’s extradition trial said in October that she would be releasing a judgment in the case in early January, according to Al Jazeera.

The WikiLeaks founder fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to avert being extradited to Sweden on sex crime allegations, which have since been dropped. He stayed there for seven years before being removed in 2019.

One of Assange’s extradition hearings had been delayed in September due to concerns that one of his lawyers may have contracted COVID-19. 

Hearings for his potential extradition started in February and were originally scheduled to continue in May, but the pandemic delayed them until September. 

Assange’s legal team has called for their client to be granted bail due to his risk of contracting COVID-19 with the preexisting conditions of respiratory infections and heart problems. However, the judge denied this request, saying Assange is a flight risk. 

Michael Kopelman, an emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, said during a September hearing that Assange has “severe depression” and “psychotic symptoms” that have led to auditory hallucinations, adding that he would be at “very high” risk of suicide should he be extradited. 

Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, previously called on Trump to pardon the controversial figure, tweeting a photo on Thanksgiving of their two young children and writing, “They need their father. Our family needs to be whole again.”

“I beg you, please bring him home for Christmas [President Trump],” she added. 

In September, The Associated Press reported that Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange’s lawyers, told a London court that her client was indirectly offered a “win-win” deal by Trump that would have allowed him to avoid extradition to the U.S. if he revealed the source of leaked documents from the Democratic Party before the 2016 election.

Assange did not reveal the source of the documents, according to the AP.

Tags Associated Press Clemency coronavirus covid-19 Donald Trump Edward Snowden Edward Snowden Espionage Act Extradition Julian Assange Julian Assange National Security Agency Pardon Twitter wikileaks

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