NEW YORK ― On the same day as Julian Assange’s arrest on a single conspiracy charge from U.S. prosecutors, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said the WikiLeaks co-founder must now face the consequences of his past actions.
“The bottom line is he has to answer for what he has done ― at least as it’s been charged,” Clinton said.
British police arrested Assange on Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where had spent the past seven years to avoid capture. Assange became exposed to arrest and U.S. extradition when his diplomatic immunity was terminated.
Assange was initially arrested and found guilty on charges that he breached bail conditions related to a Swedish rape case in 2012 before being arrested on the conspiracy charge.
In New York City, during the first night of a speaking tour with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, she made it clear that she felt the arrests were justified.
“Look, I’ll wait and see what happens with the charges and how it proceeds, but he skipped bail in the U.K.,” the former secretary of state added.
In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential campaign, WikiLeaks disseminated hacked materials from the Democratic National Committee that damaged the Clinton campaign. Assange’s conspiracy charge is on the grounds that he and former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning conspired to steal military secrets from the U.S. government.
Assange’s attorney, Jennifer Robinson, reportedly said Thursday that the extradition could set a “dangerous precedent” for journalists who publish “truthful information about the United States.”
“Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges,” said another one of Assange’s lawyers, Barry Pollack.
Thursday evening, Clinton pushed firmly back against that narrative.
“It is clear from the indictment that came out: It’s not about punishing journalism, it’s about assisting the hacking of the military computer to steal information from the United States government,” Clinton said.
At the end of her answer, Clinton added a quip, much to the audience’s delight.
“I do think it’s a little ironic that he may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States,” she said.
Assange could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.