U.S. may drop Assange prosecution

President Biden said today he was "considering" ending the prosecution of Julian Assange following a request by the Australian government.

Biden's exact words were "we're considering it" when asked about the Australian request, according to a pool reporter in the the Oval Office Wednesday morning. And while that doesn't mean the U.S. Department of Justice will necessarily drop its case against Assange, it signals there could be some room for compromise.

Assange, an Australian citizen by birth, is in custody in the United Kingdom, where he has been fighting extradition to the U.S. for years. He was dragged out of London's Ecuadorian embassy in 2019, having lived there for seven years after jumping bail during a sexual assault investigation. The U.S. prosecution concerns his publication of footage depicting U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan; the unusual espionage charge centers on whether he helped Chelsea Manning, then a U.S. Army private, access the data.

The prosecution posed a significant threat to journalism. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reportedly considered assassinating him, making the stakes quite clear to anyone who might feel the chill.