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Hillary Clinton: Assange must 'answer for what he has done' in wake of arrest

General April 13, 2019

Hillary Clinton: Assange must 'answer for what he has done' in wake of arrestClinton says at New York event: ‘I think it is clear from the indictment that came out it’s not about punishing journalism’Hillary Clinton said the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose website published hacked emails from her 2016 presidential campaign, must “answer for what he has done” in the wake of his dramatic arrest on Thursday.Her comments came hours after Assange was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and taken into custody by London’s Metropolitan police and charged by the US with conspiring to hack into a secret Pentagon computer network.Assange is accused of working with Chelsea Manning, then a US army intelligence analyst, to break into the defense department network in March 2010 to obtain classified documents.The US confirmed it would seek the extradition of Assange from the UK, prompting immediate concerns over journalistic protections under the first amendment.“I think it is clear from the indictment that came out it’s not about punishing journalism,” Clinton said at an event in New York.Clinton said the issue was not one of press freedom, but “about assisting the hacking of a military computer to steal information from the United States government”.After 2,487 days in the embassy, the 47-year-old was arrested after Ecuador revoked his political asylum and invited police officers inside their Knightsbridge premises, where he has stayed since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations which Assange has always denied.Later on Thursday, he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court and faces up to 12 months in a British prison.“Look, I’ll wait and see what happens with the charges and how it proceeds, but he skipped bail in the UK,” Clinton said. “The bottom line is he has to answer for what he has done, at least as it’s been charged.”Clinton also took a swipe at Donald Trump, stating of her former rival: “I do think it’s a little ironic that [Assange] may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States.”Clinton has long pointed to Russian interference in the 2016 election as a major factor in her defeat to Trump, citing in particular the impact of hacked emails published on WikiLeaks at pivotal moments in the campaign.The website first leaked the contents of internal emails stolen from Democratic National Committee servers just ahead of the party’s convention in July. WikiLeaks then published thousands of hacked emails in October from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, which were released just hours after the release of an Access Hollywood tape in which Trump had bragged about groping and kissing women without their consent.Despite hailing WikiLeaks as a “treasure trove” during the 2016 campaign, Trump feigned ignorance about the website and its activities in the wake of Assange’s arrest.“I know nothing about WikiLeaks,” the president told reporters at the White House. “It’s not my thing.”After WikiLeaks disseminated the hacked DNC emails in 2016, then candidate Trump infamously declared: “WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.”Vice-President Mike Pence defended Trump in an interview with CNN on Friday, stating his prior comments were “in no way an endorsement of an organization that we now understand was involved in disseminating classified information by the United States of America”.“The justice department is now seeking extradition and we’re going to bring Julian Assange to justice,” Pence said, while adding Assange’s work with Manning was “one of the greatest compromises of classified information in American history”.Manning, a former US soldier, was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage and theft. She was released in 2017 after a seven-year stint in prison, but sent back to jail in March of this year after refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.While the narrow charge against Assange of violating computer hacking laws was not widely in dispute, academics and advocacy groups were alarmed by the justice department’s accusatory tone toward journalistic activities that include protecting the anonymity of sources and sharing government information and records in the public interest.Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said his arrest “sets a dangerous precedent for all media organizations in Europe and around the world”.“It’s called conspiracy,” added WikiLeaks’s editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson.“It’s conspiracy to commit journalism.”


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