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U.S. charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with espionage

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U.S. charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with espionage

By Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball

 

2019-05-23T202142Z_1_LYNXNPEF4M1UN_RTROPTP_4_WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE-USA.JPG

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014. REUTERS/John Stillwell/File Photo

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department unveiled 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, saying he unlawfully published the names of classified sources and conspired with and assisted ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining access to classified information.

 

The superseding indictment comes a little more than a month after the Justice Department unsealed a narrower criminal case against Assange.

 

Assange was initially charged with conspiring with Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

Wikileaks describes itself as specializing in the publication of "censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption."

Assange is now fighting extradition to the United States, after Ecuador in April revoked his seven-year asylum in the country's London embassy. He was arrested that day, April 11, by British police as he left the embassy.

 

He is now serving a 50-week sentence in a London jail for skipping bail when he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012.

 

The decision to charge Assange with espionage crimes is notable, and unusual. Most cases involving the theft of classified information have targeted government employees, like Manning, and not the people who publish the information itself.

 

The Justice Department's quick turn-around with the filing of a more substantial indictment againstAssange is not surprising.

 

Under extradition rules, the United States had only a 60-day window from the date of Assange's arrest in London to add more charges. After that, foreign governments do not generally accept superseding charges.

 

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-05-24
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Emdog said:

I think espionage includes potential death penalty, which would give UK and Sweden a valid reason not to extradite to US.

 

Remind me never to hire you as a lawyer. (Death is only a penalty in Sec. 794, aiding a foreign government.)

 

18 U.S. Code § 798. Disclosure of classified information

 

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

 

That said, 17 counts means life in prison, given the current administration, and SCOTUS makeup, expect free-speech to take a back seat, and now secret documents will be ruled as being "people".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by mtls2005
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1 hour ago, Emdog said:

I think espionage includes potential death penalty, which would give UK and Sweden a valid reason not to extradite to US.

Except people are often extradited to the US for what are capital offences.

 

This is achieved by a binding agreement between the US and the extraditing nation that the person being extradited will no face capital punishment.

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6 minutes ago, helpisgood said:

 

Thanks for the info!  You always do a great job with analysis and with your posts.  Keep up the good work!

 

I guess you haven't seen the very recent news that Assange is now, instead, being charged under the Espionage Act with a superseding indictment just filed on May 23.  I'll provide both a link to the NY Times article about it and the link to the text of the actual indictment itself. 

 

If I understand it correctly, the indictment that you have linked to, which was filed on March 6, has more to do with conspiracy.  In other words, the prosecutors are charging Assange with helping or conspiring, or something like that, with Manning, who originally got the info.  Like the Pentagon Papers (Daniel Ellsberg's story), if the journalist or the newspaper merely publishes the wrongfully obtained info, the prosecutors never went after the mere publisher. 

 

However, with this new indictment, and I haven't had the chance to neither read the article nor the new filing, it looks like the prosecution is using the Espionage Act to go after someone (viz., Assange) even though he was merely the publisher.  If this is true, this could open the door to a chilling effect on newspapers, etc. from publishing info obtained from the govt.  Whatever you may think of Assange, there may now be a cause for freedom of the press and the US govt. being to shut down stories from the public.  Watch this space!  

 

Again, I'll provide the links and you can all review it all yourselves.  Again, thanks for your kind help!:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/us/politics/assange-indictment.html

 

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/1037-julian-assange-espionage-act-indictment/426b4e534ab60553ba6c/optimized/full.pdf#page=1

If, as alleged, Assange conspired with Manning to illegally obtain the information then Assange/Wikileaks is not 'merely the publisher'.

 

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5 minutes ago, Chomper Higgot said:

If, as alleged, Assange conspired with Manning to illegally obtain the information then Assange/Wikileaks is not 'merely the publisher'.

 

 

I don't have time to read the whole new indictment, but it looks like the prosecution is crafting their charges more carefully and avoid any difficulties of proof that the original indictment may have caused.

 

I don't have time now to read all 37 pages of the new indictment.  I am soon off to other things. 

 

I just wanted to help everyone out in getting the latest info. 

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1 hour ago, mtls2005 said:

Case Dismissed

There was no ruling with regard to guilt or innocence.

" The charges against these defendants raise serious factual and legal issues that I would certainly prefer to have litigated to completion. . . . However. . . the conduct of the government has placed the case in such a posture that it pre­cludes the fair dispassionate resolution of these issues by a jury. I have con­cluded that a mistrial alone would not be fair. Under all the circumstances, I believe that the defendants should not have to run the risk, present under ex­isting authorities, that they might be tried again before a different jury."

The Court ruling provides no guidance with regard to the charges against Assange.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Emdog said:

I think espionage includes potential death penalty, which would give UK and Sweden a valid reason not to extradite to US.

I think they can if there were assurances that he would not face the death penalty.

 

But I think it is immaterial as by the time he has served his time at HMP Belmarsh, then extradited to Sweden, done his time there, then extradited to the USA then 30 years on death row, he would be pushing up daisies long before then.  

Edited by Basil B

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