President Barack Obama commuted most of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the military intelligence analyst who leaked documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, but will be freed in May.
There may be another consequence of the commutation. The WikiLeaks Twitter account declared earlier this month that founder Julian Assange would “agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case.”
The WikiLeaks Twitter account, which is widely believed to be administered by Assange himself, said something similar back in September: “If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange -- despite its clear unlawfulness.”
It's hard to know how serious Assange is. First of all, there is no Department of Justice case. No charges have been filed against Assange in the US.
There is a case in Sweden, however, where Assange faces charges of sexual assault. The white-haired whistleblower has said he does not want to be extradited to Sweden in part because he fears Sweden will pass him off to the US, where he may face charges and a sentence similar to Manning's.
If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case https://t.co/MZU30SlfGK— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 12, 2017
There is a DoJ investigaton dating back at least to 2010, which is still ongoing. Assange believes that means criminal charges could still come his way, and he's probably right.
Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden. WikiLeaks did not immediately respond to an email asking if he would volunteer for extradition to either Sweden or the US. On Twitter, WikiLeaks declared Manning's commutation a “victory” but did not comment on Assange's position.
Commutations are typically rare, but Obama has granted more than 1,000 of them in 2016 and 2017. These commutations cannot be reversed.
Update: WikiLeaks at first appeared to confirm the deal is on.
Assange lawyer @themtchair on Assange-Manning extradition 'deal': "Everything that he has said he's standing by."— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 18, 2017
But a lawyer for Assange later said the commutation was not enough to merit the WikiLeaks founder's extradition.
Assange and his lawyers believe he has been secretly charged with a crime in the US, according to The Hill.