Assange considers offer to appear before US Senate committee

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, in this May 19, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Assange considers offer to appear before US Senate committee

  • The US committee’s request comes at a time of growing speculation about Assange’s future and his possible ejection from the embassy after six years
  • Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy since he was granted asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questions about allegations of sex crimes

LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for six years, is considering an offer to appear before a US Senate committee to discuss alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, his lawyer said on Thursday.
WikiLeaks published a letter from the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday which asked Assange to make himself available to testify in person at a closed hearing as part of its investigation into whether Moscow meddled to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
Russia rejects the claims and Trump has denied any collusion.
“The US Senate Select Committee request confirms their interest in hearing from Mr.Assange,” lawyer Jennifer Robinson said in a statement.
“The inquiry has asked for him to appear in person at a mutually agreeable time and place. We are seriously considering the offer but must ensure Mr.Assange’s protection is guaranteed.”
Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy since he was granted asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questions about allegations of sex crimes, accusations that were later dropped.
However, he would be arrested by British police for breaching bail conditions should he leave the building, and he has always said he fears being extradited to the United States for having published a huge cache of US diplomatic and military secrets on the WikiLeaks website.
There were no details about how any interview with the US senators would be carried out, and a spokesman for Assange said: “Anything is possible with this.”
“’In person’ hasn’t been ruled out,” he added.
Ahead of the 2016 election, WikiLeaks published emails hacked from the Democratic Party and the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Last month, a US federal grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking the Democratic computer networks as part of Moscow’s meddling in the election to help Republican Trump.
The US committee’s request comes at a time of growing speculation about Assange’s future and his possible ejection from the embassy after six years.
On a visit to Madrid last month, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno confirmed that Ecuador and Britain were in talks to try to end his stay at the embassy.
Days earlier, a source close to Assange told Reuters that the diplomatic impasse was coming to a head.


Mueller Report: Russia did attempt to meddle in 2016 US election, no evidence of US coordination

Updated 34 min 43 sec ago
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Mueller Report: Russia did attempt to meddle in 2016 US election, no evidence of US coordination

WASHINGTON: US Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday that the Mueller Report confirms the Russian government sought to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, but that no evidence was found that any American conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.

While Mueller drew no conclusion about whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice in the investigation, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally had concluded that while Trump was "frustrated and angry" about the Mueller probe, nothing the president did rose to the level of an "obstruction-of-justice offense," Barr said

Mueller's report examined 10 episodes pertaining to Trump and obstruction.

Barr said the president did not exert executive privilege to withhold anything in the report. And he said the president's personal attorney had requested and gotten a chance to review the report before its public release.

The Justice Department was to release a redacted version of the special counsel's report later Thursday on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, opening up months, if not years, of fights over what the document means in a deeply divided country.