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Defence lawyers say they will seek French asylum for Assange

French members of the team said they have been working on a “concrete demand” for Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children and where WikiLeaks was present at its founding.

Julian Assange. Donald Trump used to be a big fan.

Julian Assange. Donald Trump used to be a big fan. Credit:Markus Schreiber/AP

“It is not an ordinary demand,” lawyer Antoine Vey said, noting that Assange is not on French soil.

Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish coordinator of Assange’s team, reiterated his client’s plan to claim that the Trump administration offered him a pardon. The alleged condition was that Assange must agree to say that Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 US election campaign.

Garzon insisted that Assange was “pressured by the Trump administration” but resisted and “the order was given to demand the extradition of Julian Assange,” he said.

The White House has firmly denied the claim. However, Garzon said that both testimony and “documentary proof” of the claim will be offered to the court at the full hearing that opens on Monday.

Assange, 48, spent seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy before being evicted in April 2019. He was arrested by British police for jumping bail in 2012. In November, Sweden dropped a sex crimes investigation against him because so much time had elapsed.

Assange, who is Australian, has received backing from numerous quarters. The council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatovic, added a voice of opposition on Thursday, citing both concerns over Assange’s eventual treatment in a US prison and the impact on press freedoms were he to be extradited.

“I think this is one of the most important and significant political trials of this generation, in fact longer,’ senior Labour Party official John McDonnell McDonnell said in London.

The father of Assange, an Australian, insisted at the Paris news conference that his son was not a criminal.

“I can’t for the life of me understand why he’s still in prison,” said John Shipton.

AP

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