Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday celebrated the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, arguing it’s “great for the American people.”
“We’re going to extradite him. It will be really good to get him back on United States soil. So now he’s our property and we can get the facts and truth from him,” the West Virginia Democrat told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Manchin, along with nine of his Democratic colleagues, had signed a letter to Vice President Mike Pence last June, expressing concern about Ecuador providing asylum to Assange since 2012.
“I think its very good for us to finally get him on US soil so we can investigate, we can basically cross-examine, we can find out the facts that only he knows and his connections and how he basically distributed his information,” Manchin told CNN on Thursday.
Assange was arrested Thursday at the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. Assange was charged with conspiracy for allegedly helping former Army intelligence specialist Chelsea Manning to access Defense Department computers in 2010 in an effort to disclose secret government documents. He and WikiLeaks also played a role in separate allegations that Russian military intelligence hackers illegally accessed Democratic Party servers during the 2016 election, but wasn’t charged with any related crimes.
The Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair Mark Warner said his hope is that British courts will “quickly transfer” Assange to US custody “so he can finally get the justice he deserves.”
“Julian Assange has long professed high ideals and moral superiority. Unfortunately, whatever his intentions when he started WikiLeaks, what he’s really become is a direct participant in Russian efforts to undermine the West and a dedicated accomplice in efforts to undermine American security,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement.
Warner thanked the Ecuadorian president and government for withdrawing sanctuary for Assange.
Sen. Ben Sasse, another member of the Intelligence Committee, said Assange’s arrest is “good news for freedom-loving people.”
“Julian Assange has long been a wicked tool of Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence services,” Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, said on Twitter. “He deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Assange will remain in custody until his ordered appearance for an extradition hearing on May 2. If found guilty of the charge, Assange faces carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez and Devan Cole contributed to this report.