DOJ Preparing Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

 

CNN reports that US authorities are building a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and are seeking his arrest:

Last week in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, CIA Director Mike Pompeo went further than any US government official in describing a role by WikiLeaks that went beyond First Amendment activity.

He said WikiLeaks “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”

“It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said.

US intelligence agencies have also determined that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish emails aimed at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as part of a broader operation to meddle in the US 2016 presidential election. Hackers working for Russian intelligence agencies stole thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and officials in the Clinton campaign and used intermediaries to pass along the documents to WikiLeaks, according to a public assessment by US intelligence agencies.

Still, the move could be viewed as political, since Assange is untouchable as long as he remains in the Ecuadorian embassy, and Ecuador has not changed its stance on Assange’s extradition.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a “priority.”

“We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” he said. “This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.

Before publishing Democrat emails, WikiLeaks posted classified files stolen by US Army intelligence analyst Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning in 2010. The group also played an active role in helping NSA analyst Edward Snowden disclose many more classified documents.

What are your thoughts? Should Sessions indict Assange or leave him alone?

Published in Law, Military
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Members have made 75 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Sessions seems like the kind of man who would go after leakers even if it were somebody leaking something from the Hillary campaign that might have helped Trump beat Hillary.

    If going after Assange is coupled with going after his sources (which considering how much stuff he got might be a good idea) it might be worth it.

    • #1
    • April 20, 2017 at 4:16 pm
    • Like2 likes
  2. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    I dunno – he seems to be doing the lords work an aweful lot.

    • #2
    • April 20, 2017 at 4:18 pm
    • Like6 likes
  3. Profile photo of Umbra Australis (umbrafractus) Coolidge

    He’s an anti-American saboteur. That we happen to approve of his choice of targets is irrelevant.

    Throw the proverbial book at him.

    • #3
    • April 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm
    • Like8 likes
  4. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):
    He’s an anti-American saboteur. That we happen to approve of his choice of targets is irrelevant.

    Throw the proverbial book at him.

    Sounds like you are certain we, meaning the U.S. as governed by those positioned to do so, which might be led by our intelligence apparatus, are the good guys?

    • #4
    • April 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm
    • Like3 likes
  5. Profile photo of JcTPatriot Thatcher

    I have said from day one that WikiLeaks, and especially Assange, are Traitors To The World. Julian released information that explained, to our enemies in the Islamic State, exactly how we were tracking them. They immediately closed down those communications and we lost extremely valuable intelligence on them, which more than likely resulted in more deaths around the world. Everyone outside of the Islamic System should hate Julian Assange.

    Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden should both be tied to a post and shot for Treason.

    Now with that said, let’s move on to this paragraph from CNN:

    “US intelligence agencies have also determined that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish emails aimed at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as part of a broader operation to meddle in the US 2016 presidential election. Hackers working for Russian intelligence agencies stole thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and officials in the Clinton campaign and used intermediaries to pass along the documents to WikiLeaks, according to a public assessment by US intelligence agencies.”

    Where, exactly, did this come from? There has never been a single government intelligence agency that “determined” the Russians passed anything to WikiLeaks. Was this paragraph added by CNN to try to give credence to the false “Russian Interference in US Elections” story? I believe they did, because it is completely out of place in the article. Read it for yourself. CNN is now planting Fake News in the middle of their other stories to catch you off guard!

    • #5
    • April 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm
    • Like11 likes
  6. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    JcTPatriot (View Comment):

    Where, exactly, did this come from? There has never been a single government intelligence agency that “determined” the Russians passed anything to WikiLeaks. Was this paragraph added by CNN to try to give credence to the false “Russian Interference in US Elections” story? I believe they did, because it is completely out of place in the article. Read it for yourself. CNN is now planting Fake News in the middle of their other stories to catch you off guard!

    When Sessions was asked if DoJ was working to identifying and prosecuting leakers, in his answer he sounded as though they might be going after any number of leakers within the government in addition to Assange.

    • #6
    • April 20, 2017 at 5:43 pm
    • Like3 likes
  7. Profile photo of Quake Voter Thatcher

    So now every bad actor or organization worldwide that seeks to breach US intelligence is subject to US criminal jurisdiction?

    Do warrants for principals in the FSB (or good guys like the Mossad) follow?

    Maybe we should focus on securing our intelligence resources from every low-level contractor and sex freak corporal instead of attempting some worldwide star chamber.

    • #7
    • April 20, 2017 at 5:47 pm
    • Like11 likes
  8. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Quake Voter (View Comment):

    Maybe we should focus on securing our intelligence resources from every low-level contractor and sex freak corporal instead of attempting some worldwide star chamber.

    I think the problem might be more embedded in the intelligence bureaucracy as well, the problem being not just leaks but actions within our own government that are essentially unAmerican.

    • #8
    • April 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm
    • Like5 likes
  9. Profile photo of Michael Minnott Member

    I am skeptical that this will achieve anything of value. Assange is an Austalian national, so his actions don’t fall under US law (maybe international law). Also, Wikileaks doesn’t need him to operate, so they won’t be shut down even if he is caught and sentenced. You also risk making him into a prisoner of conscience.

    Based on the gist of the news article, it sounds like people are still waiting in hope that a smoking gun will emerge “proving” that Trump stole the election as a Russian stooge. It’s not a good use of resources, even if you think Assange should be tarred and feathered.

    • #9
    • April 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm
    • Like1 like
  10. Profile photo of The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    All he needs to do is get a sex change and shed a few tears like Bradley “Chelsea” Manning and…

    • #10
    • April 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm
    • LikeLike
  11. Profile photo of JL Member
    JL

    Today has been Captain Insane-O.

    Something’s comin’ y’all.

    • #11
    • April 20, 2017 at 6:24 pm
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  12. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    It seems odd that a man outside the US can be prosecuted for breaking US law. I’d like an explanation of how he thinks long arm jurisdiction works internationally and how it applies in this case.

    • #12
    • April 20, 2017 at 6:35 pm
    • Like2 likes
  13. Profile photo of Justin Hertog Member

    I am skeptical of Assange’s and Wikileaks’ claim that they are simply journalists and publishers. They are more than that. But what, specifically, has Wikileaks done that every newspaper in a free country has not done or aspires to do?

    I have no uncertainty about Edward Snowden, a man who, whatever his motivations and intent, ought to be tried for breaking the law. Snowden says that he wanted to expose lawbreaking at the NSA but he miscalculated. Nobody has been charged with lawbreaking and, if anything, the power of the NSA to collect data en mass is greater now than it was before. Americans have let go of their of expectation of the right to privacy. It exists, in some form, in the Bill of Rights.

    I have thought more than once that if Wikileaks had not existed than the media would have had to create it, if for no other reason than to provide cover for stories that were suspected or admitted to anonymously to mainstream journalists but which could not be written about by them because the sources could not be protected and the documents could not be published. The media has prospered from Wikileaks and the media needs it. Maybe. I’m looking forward hearing the government’s argument.

    • #13
    • April 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm
    • Like4 likes
  14. Profile photo of Stina Member

    JcTPatriot (View Comment):
    Where, exactly, did this come from? There has never been a single government intelligence agency that “determined” the Russians passed anything to WikiLeaks. Was this paragraph added by CNN to try to give credence to the false “Russian Interference in US Elections” story? I believe they did, because it is completely out of place in the article. Read it for yourself. CNN is now planting Fake News in the middle of their other stories to catch you off guard!

    I was wondering the same exact thing.

    What on earth.

    • #14
    • April 20, 2017 at 7:53 pm
    • Like2 likes
  15. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Justin Hertog (View Comment):
    Nobody has been charged with lawbreaking and, if anything, the power of the NSA is greater now than it was before. Americans have let go of their of expectation of right to privacy.

    Put Snowden aside for a moment and let’s talk about a hypothetical whistleblower. The whole point of whistleblower laws is to protect whistleblowers. I think they get a percentage if money is collected, but unless they are proven not to have been acting in good faith, I don’t think they’re supposed to take the blame if the government can’t make the case.

    • #15
    • April 20, 2017 at 7:54 pm
    • Like1 like
  16. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher

    Was that a CNN article or a DNC press release?

    • #16
    • April 21, 2017 at 3:25 am
    • Like3 likes
  17. Profile photo of Odysseus Member

    Just to clarify a few points raised here, Assange is subject to US law when he commits a crime on US soil by electronic means, as is being alleged. This is true of everyone, of course, regardless of nationality, and regardless of the physical whereabouts of a person. For example if I (as a British citizen) were to hack into some New York bank and steal some money I could be extradited from Britain according to the treaty agreements our two great nations have entered into. In some circumstances this doesn’t happen, as in the case of Gary McKinnon who successfully persuaded the Home Secretary that he shouldn’t be extradited for mental health reasons, but consider the case of the “NatWest Three”. I doubt anyone would wish to argue that extradition in such cases is somehow undesirable for the US or wrong, or it would give carte blanche to anyone in the world to commit all kinds of crime from overseas via computer, the postal system, radio, etc.

    As to whether Assange’s actions are serious enough to pursue this case, in my opinion they absolutely are. Just look at what’s on WikiLeaks right now. They have recently published a lot of key hacking tools used by the CIA, NSA, etc. to gather intelligence around the world. These are important state secrets whose publication has blunted US effectiveness and provided a means for your enemies to strike back with your own weapons.

    • #17
    • April 21, 2017 at 5:08 am
    • Like6 likes
  18. Profile photo of Odysseus Member

    Assuming for a moment that the right approach is to get Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he scurried like a rat from charges of rape in Sweden and into a court in the US, the question arises: how to do so.

    It would be possible for Britain to send the police into the embassy and arrest him. Embassies are not the sovereign territory of the nation that owns them, contrary to popular belief; however it would first require the revocation of the embassy’s status under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. Given the worldwide media attention in this case, doing so would set an extremely bad precedent, damaging British diplomacy around the world and putting British embassies and consular premises in hostile nations in a difficult and vulnerable position. It has been done before, but only to get rid of squatters in the (empty, after Pol Pot) Cambodian embassy, which was a completely different case and was clearly done to protect the interests of Cambodia after the vacant embassy became a Foreign Office responsibility.

    It’s extremely unlikely Theresa May will send in the police. So the other option is to pressure Ecuador somehow. This would seem to be a really tough ask, but I don’t know what kinds of pressure could be applied. Obama probably never really tried to pressure them, and perhaps Trump could. Time will tell.

    • #18
    • April 21, 2017 at 5:26 am
    • Like1 like
  19. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Odysseus (View Comment):
    As to whether Assange’s actions are serious enough to pursue this case, in my opinion they absolutely are. Just look at what’s on WikiLeaks right now. They have recently published a lot of key hacking tools used by the CIA, NSA, etc. to gather intelligence around the world. These are important state secrets whose publication has blunted US effectiveness and provided a means for your enemies to strike back with your own weapons.

    A key here seems to be exactly what role Assange has played in the committing of crimes. He is claiming to be a publisher like the WaPo and NYT. Some have said there is evidence that our own intelligence components have developed capabilities to masquerade as foreign government hackers and leave imprints in hacked systems to mislead anyone investigating. This, if true and used to make it look as if the Russian government were meddling in our election to benefit Trump, would mean our own high-level government officials are committing crimes of far greater danger to the republic than anything coming out of Wikileaks. Where is Robert Ludlum?

    • #19
    • April 21, 2017 at 5:31 am
    • Like1 like
  20. Profile photo of Odysseus Member

    On second thoughts, I think I was rather hasty there. If the US can make the case (as they seem to be trying to do) that Assange’s WikiLeaks is a hostile foreign intelligence agency operating openly under the protection of Ecuador, that would be a clear violation of the Vienna Convention, and under those circumstances Britain could potentially be persuaded to take action. This could get interesting.

    • #20
    • April 21, 2017 at 5:32 am
    • Like2 likes
  21. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    This, if true and used to make it look as if the Russian government were meddling in our election to benefit Trump, would mean our own high-level government officials are committing crimes of far greater danger to the republic than anything coming out of Wikileaks.

    There is no evidence the russians phished jon podesta. There is no evidence that anybody other than a DNC insider gave the information to wikileaks, as everybody involved says happened.

    Your scenario has as much supporting evidence as any.

    • #21
    • April 21, 2017 at 5:39 am
    • Like4 likes
  22. Profile photo of Odysseus Member

    @bobthompson This is one for Epstein & Yoo (and I hope they cover this in Law Talk, I can’t recall it coming up before), but the way I understand it is that Assange is publishing classified documents in violation of the Espionage Act. He wouldn’t have First Amendment rights, being (a) not a US citizen, and (b) not on US soil, so I don’t think there would be any doubt that he could be prosecuted. Think Pentagon Papers. (Assange is furthermore soliciting classified information from those in government, which is also illegal. In this respect he is not just a publisher but is acting just like a hostile foreign intelligence agency.)

    As to whether the US can do electronic false flag operations, in technical terms it’s not terribly difficult to use an IP address originating in a foreign country or to adopt the same techniques that have been observed to be used by foreign intelligence agencies so as to leave the same “fingerprints”. However I think even Robert Ludlum would be hard pressed to make a case that John Podesta’s emails were deliberately leaked by the US government or rogue parts thereof.

    • #22
    • April 21, 2017 at 5:43 am
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  23. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Odysseus (View Comment):
    However I think even Robert Ludlum would be hard pressed to make a case that John Podesta’s emails were deliberately leaked by the US government or rogue parts thereof.

    You are thinking our own intel people are clean here?

    • #23
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:06 am
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  24. Profile photo of Odysseus Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    You are thinking our own intel people are clean here?

    I don’t think they had a hand in the DNC hack, and I’m not really sure what else they’re being accused of. What is true is that Julian Assange is a conduit for leaks of US classified information. He doesn’t publish stuff on the Russians, the Iranians, etc., only stuff damaging to Western interests. He needs to be put in jail, period.

    • #24
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:20 am
    • Like1 like
  25. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Odysseus (View Comment):
    He needs to be put in jail, period.

    Stalinist show trials are Stalinist.

    • #25
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:27 am
    • Like1 like
  26. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Odysseus (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    You are thinking our own intel people are clean here?

    I don’t think they had a hand in the DNC hack, and I’m not really sure what else they’re being accused of. What is true is that Julian Assange is a conduit for leaks of US classified information. He doesn’t publish stuff on the Russians, the Iranians, etc., only stuff damaging to Western interests. He needs to be put in jail, period.

    I’m trying to get a handle on how this works, in a universal sense. If our own intel people tap into a foreign entity (Angela Merkel’s telephone conversations, for example), are they subject to being charged in this same way under German law?

    • #26
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:31 am
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  27. Profile photo of Odysseus Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I’m trying to get a handle on how this works, in a universal sense. If our own intel people tap into a foreign entity (Angela Merkel’s telephone conversations, for example), are they subject to being charged in this same way under German law?

    Yes, absolutely. This is one reason why intelligence officers and agents work in secret. Take this case, for example. Merely being employed by a government (as an intelligence officer, for example) does not provide any kind of immunity from the laws of the host nation, unless of course officers have “diplomatic cover”, i.e. diplomatic accreditation; which isn’t bulletproof but which is always respected. During the cold war officers on both sides were arrested and generally they were swapped at a neutral location like the Glienicke Bridge, though sometimes the USSR and its satellites simply killed them. Intelligence agents, on the other hand, are just imprisoned or executed and are rarely handed over.

    Of course, as I mentioned above, if the crime is committed remotely — over the internet from the US for instance — that makes no difference to the fact that a crime has been committed, though of course the US would never extradite anyone working for the CIA or NSA to Germany or any other country for doing their job. But they shouldn’t go boasting about it whilst on holiday in the Bavarian Alps!

    • #27
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:44 am
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  28. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    What I think I am seeing in the overall broad picture is a willingness of America to allow the same approach to prevail in the treatment of criminal legal issues and handling of classified information as is prevalent in the political arena, namely that some things are politically correct and others are politically incorrect. Need I dig in and provide example after example of this, mainly from the Left but also some instances from the opposition or it it clear enough? To have this approach spreading ubiquitously across our government is dangerous to all. Honesty and integrity are very rare today.

    • #28
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:52 am
    • Like2 likes
  29. Profile photo of Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    He published information that hurt Democrats so he must be jailed. If he published information that hurt Republicans then the powers that be would be shouting his defense from the roof tops.

    • #29
    • April 21, 2017 at 6:59 am
    • Like2 likes
  30. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    He published information that hurt Democrats so he must be jailed. If he published information that hurt Republicans then the powers that be would be shouting his defense from the roof tops.

    I think he’s got it, I think he’s got it!

    • #30
    • April 21, 2017 at 7:00 am
    • Like1 like
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