Donald Trump Says He Was Close to Pardoning Julian Assange or Edward Snowden

Donald Trump said he considered pardoning Julian Assange or Edward Snowden during his time as president but ultimately decided not to.

During an interview with Candace Owens for The Daily Wire, the former president said he felt "a little bit more strongly" about one case, but did not specify whether it was the one involving the Wikileaks founder or the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower.

Assange is facing extradition to the U.S. to face espionage charges over the leak of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. Snowden has been exiled in Russia ever since he revealed NSA surveillance techniques were being used against U.S. citizens on a mass scale in 2013.

When Owens asked whether he considered pardoning Assange or Snowden for exposing "corruption," Trump replied: "You have two sides of it: In one case, you have sort of a spy deal going on, and then another case, you have somebody that's exposing real corruption.

"I won't say which one, but I feel a little bit more strongly about one than the other....but I could have done it.

"I will say you have people on both sides of that issue. Good people on both sides, and you have some bad people on one side. But I decided to let that one ride, let the courts work it out. And I guess the courts are actually doing that.

Trump added: "You know, you have a country and it was some spying things and do some bad things released that really set us back and really hurt us with what they did. But [...] I could have gone, I was very close to going the other way."

Trump appeared to be making reference to the recent British High Court decision to allow Assange to be extradited from the U.K. to the U.S. as part of the long running legal dispute.

On December 10, the High Court in London ruled that Assange could be extradited to the U.S. to face espionage charges.

The U.S. government had to give assurances that Assange would not be held in highly restrictive prison conditions if extradited.

In a statement to Newsweek, Assange's lawyer, Barry Pollack, described the decision from the court based on "vague assurances" from the U.S. government as "highly disturbing."

"The U.K. court reached this decision without considering whether extradition is appropriate when the United States is pursuing charges against him that could result in decades in prison, based on his having reported truthful information about newsworthy issues such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," Pollack added.

During his time as president, Trump granted 237 acts of clemency—143 pardons and 94 commutations—some of which to key allies and supporters.

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Donald Trump (C) said he considered pardoning Julian Assange (L) or Edward Snowden (R) during his time as president. Jack Taylor/ Zach Gibson - Pool / Barton Gellman/Getty Images