Assange offered pardon by Trump, says lawyer

A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he was offered a U.S. pardon on behalf of President Donald Trump, a London court heard Wednesday (February 19).

That pardon hangs off the condition: Assange must deny Russian hacking. Specifically, that Moscow helped leak emails from the Democratic Party in 2016.

That leak is the one that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded it was part of a wider Russian effort to try to help Trump win.

Moscow has denied meddling and Trump denied any campaign collusion.

Mention of a pardon came during a hearing over a U.S. request to have Assange extradited on charges under the Espionage Act.

Assange's lawyer says former U.S. congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered him the pardon in 2017 saying he'd been sent by the president.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham denied the lawyers' claims, saying Trump barely knows the congressman in question.

Assange is wanted in the United States on 18 counts including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law.

He made global headlines when WikiLeaks published classified U.S. video showing a Baghdad helicopter attack that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

He spent seven years holed up in Ecuador's London embassy before he was dragged out last April.

Assange could spend decades behind bars if he is convicted.