America’s most wanted hackers apparently think they’ve got some leverage over the US government. The ACLU last week began petitioning the Obama administration for a full pardon for Edward Snowden and, on Thursday, Julian Assange announced that he would willingly hand himself over to US authorities. But that’s if, and only if, the Feds drop their court-martial conviction of Chelsea Manning.
Chelsea Manning, formerly Private Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in Ft Leavenworth prison for violating the Espionage Act after she leaked a trove of classified documents to Assange’s Wikileaks website. Assange himself faces espionage charges in the US for his role in publishing those illicitly obtained documents.
While Assange’s grandstanding offer is sure to rally his supporters (especially those within the Russian intelligence community), there’s a catch to his plan: the US government doesn’t have dibs. Assange’s extended stay in the Ecuadorian embassy is the result of his ducking extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault leveled by a pair of women. Earlier this week, the embassy did agree to let one of its prosecutors question Assange on behalf of the Swedish government. That meeting will occur on October 17th. But if he ever does step foot outside of the embassy, located in downtown London, he won’t be whisked away to America — he’s got some explaining to do in Sweden first.