Lawyers for Julian Assange seeking French asylum

Former congressman refutes claim he offered Assange clemency on behalf of Trump

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team claims former GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange a potential pardon on behalf of President Trump if he denied Russian hacking in the 2016 election; Doug McKelway reports from Washington.

A defense team for Julian Assange said Thursday they will seek asylum in France for the WikiLeaks founder, who is facing extradition to the United States and 175 years in prison for espionage charges.

French lawyer Eric Dupont-Moretti, among several of Assange’s lawyers who spoke at a news conference in Paris, explained why they view the case against their client as unfair.

A demonstrator holds a leaflet outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

A demonstrator holds a leaflet outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (AP)

“We consider the situation is sufficiently serious that our duty is to talk about it” with French President Emmanuel Macron, Dupont-Moretti said.

The defense team mentioned Assange’s poor health and alleged violations of his rights while in jail in London. They also warned of “consequences for all journalists” if Assange is extradited and jailed in the U.S.

TRUMP OFFERED ASSANGE PARDON IF HE DENIED RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN DNC EMAIL LEAK, LAWYER ALLEGES IN COURT

French members of the team said they have been working on a “concrete demand” for Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children and where Wikileaks was present at its founding.

“It is not an ordinary demand,” lawyer Antoine Vey said, noting that Assange is not on French soil.

Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish coordinator of Assange’s team, reiterated his client’s plan to claim during his extradition hearing that the Trump administration has offered him a pardon. The alleged condition for the offer is that Assange agrees to say that Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Assange spent seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy before being evicted in April 2019. He was arrested by British police for jumping bail in 2012.

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In November, Sweden dropped a sex crimes investigation against him because so much time had elapsed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.