On Tuesday, President Obama commuted all but four months of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the intelligence analyst who was previously stationed in Iraq and was convicted via court martial in 2013 of passing thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was known as Bradley Manning before coming out as a transgender woman and now goes by the name Chelsea.
Following President Obama's decision to cut Manning's 35-year sentence short, Assange is under pressure to hand himself over to US authorities. He also made a pledge last week that he would agree to extradition if Obama granted clemency to Manning.
Assange's Swedish lawyer, Per E. Samuelson, has suggested that the WikiLeaks-founder is willing to begin talks with the US. Samuelson spoke with Assange after news broke of Manning's early release.
“He has said that he is open to negotiations,” Samuelson told Swedish Radio on Wednesday. “He hopes that the new Trump administration will go all the way and close the investigation into him and make clear that he is a free man as far as the US is concerned.”
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since claiming asylum there in 2012. He faces allegations of rape in Sweden, which he denies, and has refused to travel to travel to Sweden to meet with prosecutors.
Assange has expressed fear that Sweden would extradite him to the US and has said that he risks facing the death penalty there. If he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy he will be arrested by British police and will be handed over to Sweden.
According to Samuelson, Assange is prepared to go to Sweden and potentially face trial if the US authorities will secure the guarantees he wants from them.
"In that case he can go to Sweden without risking ending up in an American prison," said Samuelson. "We're not there yet but that is the development we're hoping for. At the same time, I know there has been much criticism against Obama's decision in the US so we don't know where things are going just yet."
Asked if Assange is willing to go to the US even if it means he will face trial, Samuelson said: "Yes, I think so - if he receives the right signals from the US."
Chelsea Manning is due to be released from prison in May.