DONALD TRUMP offered to pardon Julian Assange if he denied Russia was linked to leaked Democratic Party emails published on Wikileaks in 2016, a court heard today.
The bombshell claim was made at Westminster Magistrates Court ahead of next week's extradition hearing for Wikileaks founder Assange, 48.
Assange spent nearly seven years inside Ecuador's embassy and is wanted in the US over leaks of classified military documents.
His lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, told court today Trump offered the Australian a pardon if he said Moscow had nothing to do with the US President's 2016 election victory.
A series of emails embarrassing for the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign were hacked before being published by WikiLeaks prior to the US election.
Mr Fitzgerald referred to a witness statement by former U.S. Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher who visited Assange in 2017, saying he had been sent by the president to offer a pardon.
The pardon would come on the condition Assange said the Russians weren't involved in the email leak that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016, Rohrabacher's statement said.
Mr Fitzgerald said a statement from Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson showed: "Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks".
A White House spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, denied the claim.
Ms Grisham said: "The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than hes an ex-congressman.
"He's never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is a complete fabrication and a total lie."
He [Trump] was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks
Assange faces 18 counts in the US, including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law
He could spend decades behind bars if convicted there.
Almost a decade after his WikiLeaks website enraged Washington by leaking secret U.S. documents, Woolwich Crown Court in London will begin hearings on Monday – with Assange present – to decide whether he should be sent to the United States.
At Wednesday's hearing, Assange spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.
He appeared relaxed and spent much of the hearing reading notes in his lap.
Assange made global headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
WikiLeaks later angered the United States by publishing caches of leaked military documents and diplomatic cables.
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