Could Trump’s embrace
of Julian Assange
presage a pardon?
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is the president-elect’s newest bro!
The sudden bromance between Donald Trump and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has heads spinning across the political spectrum.
Since publishing over a million top-secret US government documents in 2010, Assange has been public enemy number one for Democrats and Republicans alike, but especially to right-wing apologists.
Suddenly, on Tuesday, he was feted on Fox News by one of the most conservative media blowhards of all, Sean Hannity. A few hours later Trump weighed in with a supportive tweet.
Assange has become the darling of the right since Wikileaks published emails and documents purloined from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Can a presidential pardon be far behind? What about Edward Snowden?
The irony is so rich it can almost be sliced with a knife.
The world’s most notorious leaker is suddenly the ally of America’s most secretive president-elect ever – the only one in four decades who has not released his tax returns.
In the Fox report on the Hannity interview Assange: Russian government not the source of WikiLeaks emails we learn that
“Despite the Obama administration’s claims that Russia was behind cyber-intrusions meant to interfere with the U.S. election – and punitive measures taken against Moscow last week – Assange said nobody associated with the Russian government gave his group the files.
“Hannity told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer “I believe everything (Assange) said,” and praised the Internet activist for his commitment to government transparency.”
Did Hannity forget that former Fox pundit and uber-opportunist Sarah Palin said in 2010 that Assange has “blood on his hands.” Oh, never mind! On Wednesday, she apologized.
We have closely followed the Wikileaks saga for many years, in particular the persecution of former PFC Chelsea Manning who is serving a 35-year prison term for her role in providing the trove of US secrets to Assange.
We were not alone in our assessment of the outcome in the Manning case. In Verdict a blow to free flow of information in the U.S. we wrote on July 30, 2013:
“The verdict in the trial of Bradley Manning, super-leaker to the WikiLeaks whistleblower web site, was not totally predictable. However, it is still a grave miscarriage of justice. Manning is not a spy; he is a whistleblower,” we wrote.
The story in The New York Times on the unlikely allies: Donald Trump and Julian Assange.
Since 2012, Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, claiming he would be subject to extradition to the US if he traveled to Sweden to answer charges related to a rape case there. Reports of a secret grand jury indictment against Assange have never been officially denied.
But since Wikileaks began publishing purloined documents from both the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chair John Podesta last fall (just in time to maximize their influence on the election), right wing media and Trump surrogates have suddenly changed their tune.
According to today’s report in The New York Times Trump and Julian Assange, an Unlikely Pair, Unite to Sow Hacking Doubts
“Mr. Trump also seemed to bond with Mr. Assange over their shared disdain for the media. He noted that Mr. Assange had called American news media coverage “very dishonest” and added, “More dishonest than anyone knows.”
An unlikely pair they certainly are.
The rehabilitation of Julian Assange apparently is well under way. Will he be forgiven all his previous sins now that many believe he played at least a minor role in swinging the election to Donald Trump?
Could a pardon be in the cards?
And why stop there? If the new president is so enamored with Wikileaks and its founder, should he not then consider clemency for the other public servant, Edward Snowden, who so fearlessly belw the whistle on America’s global surveillance regime?
After all, Snowden was granted asylum by the other Trump bro, Vladimir Putin. Trump should do his pal a favor and let Snowden come home.
It boggles the mind.
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