A summary of activity calling for President Donald Trump to pardon Julian Assange during the last weeks of his presidency by Matthew Bretherton
From late December 2020 through to the inauguration of Joe Bidden on the 20th January there was a considerable social media effort seeking a pardons by Donald Trump for Julian Assange, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden.
Until Donald Trump’s suspension from Twitter on the 8th January 2020 for inciting violence and spreading falsehoods, Twitter was the president’s main form of communication with the world. Most of the pardon activity was on Twitter and this article is intended to catch the essence of that frenetic activity
What is a pardon?
Of concern for many Assange supporters is that feeling a pardon carries an acceptance of guilt. A win in the proceedings or for the appeal not to be presented is a better outcome for the Freedom of Press and health of Democracy. Julian has been confined for after nearly two years in Belmarsh Prison, much of this in solitary confinement. There is the prior 9 years of near prison conditions, having sought sanctuary in Ecuadorian embassy. Withfailing health from prolonged confinement and ever present risk of Covid-19 a presidential pardon would be a blessing indeed.
Richard Lempert explains pardons and reprieves at the Brooking web site with an exert reading
Although the Constitution speaks of “reprieves” and “pardons,” these words encompass more than what they might seem to entail. “Pardons,” for example, encompass amnesties and can be accorded people whose identities the president does not know and may be unable to determine. The first such pardon was issued in 1795 by George Washington to people who participated in the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion, with Jimmy Carter’s pardon of Vietnam-era draft evaders being a more recent example. Pardons may also be conditioned on a person accepting certain restrictions on future behavior, including submitting to punishments not otherwise provided by law. Pardons need not follow convictions but can be issued before or during a criminal prosecution. The rationale for so-called “pre-emptive” pardons is that there is no point in requiring a person to live in fear of conviction or to go through a trial if the offense of which he is or might be accused would ultimately be pardoned. Pre-emptive pardons do, not, however apply to offenses not yet committed. The president can tell a thief not to worry about being convicted for the crime he has committed yesterday because he has pardoned him. But a pardon today cannot forgive a crime the thief commits tomorrow.
Calls for pardons
To list a few
- Nils Melzer
- Stella Morris
- Pamella Anderson
- Edward Snowden
- Tulsi Gabbard
- Sarah Palin
- George Christensen
- Tucker Carlson also reporting “I am hearing that it’s unlikely either man [Julian Assange and John Kiriakou] gets a pardon, claiming apparently Mitch McConnell “sent word over to the White House: ‘if you pardon Julian Assange, we are much more likely to convict you in an impeachment trial.'”
However, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison reported he would not be asking Trump for a pardon for Julian Assange
Trump’s history with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange
From Global News, 12th April 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday that he “knows nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.” Here is a compilation of some of the recorded times Trump mentioned WikiLeaks throughout his speeches, a presidential debate in 2016 and campaign rallies where he’s declared his love for the group. Trump’s Thursday comments came following the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Purchase of Pardons
The Baltimore Sun reports on the purchase of pardons reporting
A onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and agreed to a $50,000 bonus if the president granted it, according to a copy of an agreement.
And Kiriakou was separately told that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the FBI. Giuliani challenged this characterization.