News   /   Politics

Trump distances himself from WikiLeaks after Assange arrest

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump, who praised WikiLeaks during his 2016 presidential campaign, has distanced himself from the whistleblower organization after its founder, Julian Assange, was arrested in Britain.

“I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing,” Trump told journalists in the Oval Office on Thursday when asked if he still loves the transparency site.

The US president also said he has “been seeing what’s happened with Assange” but added that what happens next is up to Attorney General William Barr.

After leaking information about US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and stayed there for seven years until he was arrested by UK police on the embassy's premises on Thursday and forcefully dragged out of the building.

The US wants the 47-year-old to be extradited and tried for allegedly conspiring with American whistleblower Chelsea Manning in her leak of classified government documents a decade ago.

Trump repeatedly expressed his affinity for WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, when the whistleblower site played a major role in the run-up to the US presidential election after it published a number of documents leaked from the campaign of then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Trump said at an October 2016 rally in Pennsylvania.

“Getting off the plane, they were just announcing new WikiLeaks, and I wanted to stay there, but I didn’t want to keep you waiting,” he said four days before Election Day that year. “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

Trump mentioned WikiLeaks 145 times in the final month of his campaign alone, according to NBC News.

Clinton rejoices at the arrest

Speaking at an event in New York City on Thursday, Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Assange's arrest and said the WikiLeaks founder “has to answer for what he has done.”

Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears on the stage at Beacon Theater on April 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

“The bottom line is that he has to answer for what he has done, at least as it has been charged,” Clinton said of Assange.

"It's not about punishing journalism, it is about assisting the hacking of a military computer to steal information from the United States government, and look, I'll wait and see what happens with the charges and how it proceeds,” she added.

Clinton also seized an opportunity to take a swipe at the Trump administration, commenting on the Australian whistleblower’s arrest.

"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.

London has issued a written reassurance to Ecuador that it will not extradite Assange to the US, where he may face the death penalty.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku