In an unexpected show of self-sacrifice, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has agreed to be extradited to the U.S. if President Obama will pardon and free whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Manning, a trans woman, is currently being held in a mens’ prison in the U.S., serving 35 years in solitary confinement for leaking over 700,000 government documents from the U.S. State Department.
Efforts to get Manning’s sentence commuted grew this week when it was learned that Manning was on President Obama’s presidential pardon short-list. With less than a week left in his presidency, Obama has the power to pardon Manning – but will he?
Assange, who used WikiLeaks to release the documents obtained by Manning, is hoping that his sacrifice will entice the president to make a last-minute action and grant clemency to Manning, freeing her from the horrific conditions she has endured.
Manning has been on suicide watch after attempting to take her life twice late last year and is currently waiting on yet another appeal with the U.S. Military.
The White House has indicated that Obama has no plans to pardon Manning, but with this additional incentive, those who support Manning are hoping for a 20th-hour miracle.
Unfortunately, it is likely that Assange, who is currently out of reach of the U.S. government, might merely be bluffing – a fact that Obama and his administration would understand all too well.
While the U.S. government would love to get its hands on Assange, there are currently no charges against the man. But given 5 minutes and a legal pad, they could have that fixed lickety split.
It looks like we are facing a bleak few years for whistleblowers in the U.S., with Obama having done nothing to ease the burden.