Waleed Aly v Assange: 'I am not a complete idiot!'

JULIAN Assange says he has no intention of being extradited to the US despite offering last month to turn himself in if Chelsea Manning was released.

The WikiLeaks founder was clearly ruffled during the interview with Waleed Aly on Tuesday night's The Project, with Assange exclaiming he's "not a complete idiot!" after Aly probed him about his pledge.

Quizzing Assange about his offer now that Manning is to be released, Aly asked what it would take for him to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he's been living for four and a half years.

When Assange vaguely replied that it's dependent on a "discussion with the DoJ (Department of Justice)", Aly challenged him further.

"So when you said you would leave the embassy if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency it sounds like what you really meant is you will leave the embassy if you can come to terms with them about your case - nothing really to do with Chelsea Manning," he said bluntly.

But Assange denied saying he would leave the embassy if Manning was released.

"I didn't say that, I didn't say that," a flustered Assange said, cutting Aly off. "I said I would accept extradition to the United States."

"I don't understand why now it seems contingent on striking some kind of deal with the United States about their case against you, you didn't mention that before," Aly probed.

"Because I'm not an idiot! I'm not a complete idiot!" Assange exclaimed.

"We had a major strategic victory in liberating Chelsea Manning, the most significant alleged whistleblower in the last 10 years, but of course saying I'm willing to accept extradition doesn't mean I'm saying, 'I'm willing to be a complete idiot and throw all my lawyers away'. We're going to have a discussion with the DoJ about what that looks like, the ball is in their court."

Julian Assange is grilled by Waleed Aly on The Project
Julian Assange is grilled by Waleed Aly on The Project Channel 10

In the wideranging interview, a rare - but brief - personal moment from Assange came as he described spending the past four and a half years in the Ecuadorean Embassy.

"That time has clearly taken its toll. As an intellectual, my life is very rich. Family life, of course, it is extremely poor."

Assange also responded to claims it was his campaign that cost Hillary Clinton the US election and that Russian sources used WikiLeaks to ensure Donald Trump's success.

"I can state clearly, and have stated clearly, that our source is not a member of the Russian Government," he said.

Asked if he cares about the motive of the person who leaked the information to him, Assange replied: "It can vary but we care."

Topics:  editors picks julian assange waleed aly

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