WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not have an opinion about the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces the prospect of extradition to the United States over the publishing of secret official information.
British police arrested Assange on Thursday after Ecuador withdrew its asylum that had allowed him to take refuge in the country’s embassy in London for seven years.
“I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing. ... I don’t really have any opinion,” Trump said to reporters before a meeting with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
On the campaign trail during the 2016 presidential election, Trump repeatedly praised WikiLeaks. Shortly before the election, Trump said, “I love WikiLeaks,” after it released a cache of hacked Democratic Party emails that harmed the candidacy of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
U.S. prosecutors have charged Assange with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to access a government computer.
Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other crimes for providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to Wikileaks, though the final 28 years of her sentence were later commuted by President Barack Obama.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis