There are few times that compromise is acceptable when it comes to crime. This is especially true when the crime is treason that resulted in potential harm to Americans. Bradley/Chelsea Manning committed such crimes, but Julian Assange has committed worse crimes against America.
Last September, WikiLeaks made a very bold claim:
If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange — despite its clear unlawfulness https://t.co/MZU30S3Eia
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 15, 2016
In the waning days of the Obama Presidency, it seems that it’s time for Assange to make good on his promise. Manning will go free in May rather than completing her 35-year sentence.
There are mixed signals being sent from various camps supporting Assange. WikiLeak’s lawyers released a statement saying the DoJ should not pursue charges:
New statement from the lawyers of Wikileaks' Julian Assange on the presidential commutation of Chelsea Manning pic.twitter.com/IvgPJ7xtkN
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 17, 2017
WikiLeaks itself claimed confidence in winning a “fair trial” and blamed the DoJ for not offering one:
Assange is confident of winning any fair trial in the US. Obama's DoJ prevented public interest defense & fair jury. https://t.co/Mb6gXlz7QS
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 17, 2017
Assange’s lawyer claims that he will make good on his word:
Assange lawyer @themtchair on Assange-Manning extradition 'deal': "Everything that he has said he's standing by."
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 18, 2017
It’s a shame that a traitor like Manning was given clemency by Obama, but what’s done is done. Now, it’s time for Assange to fulfill his promise and come to America for trial. If convicted, he will likely spend a very long time in prison.
Is it a fair trade? Yes. Most of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have done over the years have been much more harmful than productive. Whistleblowers need an outlet as well as protection, but the way WikiLeaks has gone about their campaigns of “transparency” have not been positive. They’ve endangered American lives and should be punished for doing so.
The timing is convenient for Obama. With Donald Trump taking over the helm following campaign assistance received from WikiLeaks, it will be interesting to see how far he’ll allow the DoJ to go if Assange does turn himself in. For Obama, it’s a no-lose situation. If Assange is sent to prison, Obama will get credit. If he somehow wins his trial or gets a very light sentence, Trump will take the hit in multiple ways, particularly with his credibility.
Despite help with the election, it’s likely that Trump and Jeff Sessions will treat Assange as an enemy of the state and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. Trump will not betray American troops as Obama did.
As much as I’d like to see Assange behind bars, letting Manning out is more than I would have been willing to pay. Now that it’s done, let’s hope that we get Assange as a result.