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Former President Donald Trump revealed in a new interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens that he had been “very close” to pardoning Julian Assange or Edward Snowden.
In the season finale of her show “Candace,” on The Daily Wire, Owens asked Trump why he did not pardon either of the two whistleblowers during his presidency.
“So, you have two sides of it. In one case, you have sort of a spy deal going on, and then another case, you have somebody that’s exposing real corruption,” the former president began.
Trump was asked about why he didn’t pardon Edward Snowden or Julian Assange. pic.twitter.com/i1n5CPCn8R
— Chi Lee (@chi_un_lee) December 22, 2021
Trump said that he felt a “little bit more strongly” about one than the other, and though he did not specify who that was, he acknowledged that he “could have done it,” referring to a pardon.
“I will say you have people on both sides of that issue. Good people on both sides, and you have some bad people on one side. But I decided to let that one ride, let the courts work it out. And I guess the courts are actually doing that,” the former president explained.
“There was some spying things, and there was some bad things released that really set us back and really hurt us with what they did,” Trump added, appearing to signal Assange’s case, “But at the same time, in many cases, what they did — these were the same people that came after me so viciously and dishonestly. I could have gone — I was very close to going the other way.”
In the final days of the Trump administration, calls to pardon Assange grew, with former “Baywatch” star, Pamela Anderson, appearing on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson in a plea to the then-president.
Anderson called the WikiLeaks founder a “free speech hero,” and Carlson noted that Assange’s case encompasses “criminalizing freedom of speech.”
During his presidency, Trump granted 143 pardons and commuted 94 sentences.
A newly-leaked report obtained by Yahoo News this September, detailed efforts by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, other top officials at the intelligence agency, and lawyers at the White House in the early days of the Trump administration to either kidnap or assassinate Assange.
“Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ for how to assassinate him,” Yahoo News reported. “Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred ‘at the highest levels’ of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official.”
The plan never got off the ground, but the same former senior counterintelligence official explained that Pompeo was “seeking revenge on WikiLeaks and Assange,” and that the CIA was “seeing blood,” after the Vault 7 hack that led to the“the largest data loss in CIA history.”
The former president and business mogul did note in his interview that the courts were close to working out the case of Assange themselves.
The WikiLeaks founder suffered a mini-stroke in October that he believes was stress-induced, a result of his battle against the courts.
In December, the High Court overturned a ruling made earlier this year preventing Assange’s extradition to the U.S. to face charges under the Espionage Act after the U.S. offered assurances about his imprisonment conditions– conditions his lawyers argued could lead to suicidal tendencies.
Assange’s lawyers appealed the extradition late Thursday morning. They applied to take his case all the way to the U.K.’s Supreme Court– so judges will now decide whether to hear the case before any appeal takes place.
“We believe serious and important issues of law of wider public importance are being raised in this application. They arise from the Court’s judgment and its receipt and reliance on US assurances regarding the prison regimes and treatment Mr Assange is likely to face if extradited,” Assange’s lawyers wrote in a statement.
— Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver (@deepa_driver) December 10, 2021
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