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Trump administration rebuked over Julian Assange impasse by German lawmakers

December 20, 2018

German lawmakers followed a rare meeting Thursday with Julian Assange by accusing the Trump administration of violating U.S. and international laws in pursuit of the wanted WikiLeaks publisher.

Sevim Dağdelen and Heike Hnsel, German parliamentarians and members of the nation’s Left Party, denounced the international custody battle over Mr. Assange while addressing reporters after visiting the Australian-born publisher at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, his residence since 2012.

“United Kingdom has to take the measures, now, to bring to a solution which is in the frame of international law, and not in the frame of the U.S. administration, who is against international law and against, actually, the U.S. law, against the First Amendment,” said Ms. Dağdelen, the Left Party’s deputy leader. “We have to actually protect them from themselves not to violate the First Amendment.”

“At the end of this case could be the extradition to the United States, therefore we call upon our own government all European governments, member states of the European Union that they should prevent any, any case of extradition to the United States, and we ask for the rejection of the attempt of the U.S. administration, that they now try to get U.S. laws settled here in the European Union,” added Ms. Hnsel, a vice chair of the same democratic socialist group.

Ecuador granted asylum to Mr. Assange, 47, after he sought political refuge over six years ago, effectively shielding him from legal scrutiny related to his WikiLeaks website and its release of sensitive documents dating back to 2010, including classified U.S. Department of State cables, stolen Democratic National Committee emails and internal CIA hacking tools, among other material.

The country’s current president has recently discussed ejecting Mr. Assange from the embassy, however, at which point he would riskthe possibility of being arrested by British authorities and subsequently sent to the U.S. to face charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice has refused to confirm or deny whether the government has secretly filed criminal charges against Mr. Assange and is currently fighting in federal court against disclosing the existence of any related case.

Discussing the situation after meeting Mr. Assange, Ms. Hnsel accused the White House or orchestrating Mr. Assange’s “cross-border persecution.”

“We fully resist this, and we ask our government also to reject these attempts of the U.S. administration,” she added.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

President Trump and several of his surrogates praised WikiLeaks during his 2016 campaign for publishing DNC emails and other documents during the race damaging to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. officials have since determined Russian state-sponsored hackers sourced the Democratic material as part of an interference campaign waged against the 2016 race and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in particular.

More recently, Mr. Trump claimed ignorance when asked about Mr. Assange last month.

“I don’t know anything about him, really,” Mr. Trump told reporters recently. “I don’t know much about him. I really don’t.”

Ecuador imposed new living conditions on Mr. Assange that have limited him from having visitors at the embassy during the last eight months other than attorneys. He was visited Thursday by the two members of the German Bundestag in addition to his father, Paul Assange, who said he tried to travel from Australia annually to see his son around Christmas.

“His health is declining as you’d expect after eight years of ceaseless ongoing stress,” he said afterward. “Court cases; no sunlight; restricted visitation; no telecommunications, no telephone; no friends, only lawyers.”

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