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Excerpt: "US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to US officials."

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. (photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. (photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

US Said to Be Considering Arresting Julian Assange

By Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Eric Bradner, CNN

21 April 17


S authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN.

The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.

During President Barack Obama's administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn't alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. Several newspapers, including The New York Times, did as well. The investigation continued, but any possible charges were put on hold, according to US officials involved in the process then.

Going after Assange

The US view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to change after investigators found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.

Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking to avoid an arrest warrant on rape allegations in Sweden. In recent months, US officials had focused on the possibility that a new government in Ecuador would expel Assange and he could be arrested. But the left-leaning presidential candidate who won the recent election in the South American nation has promised to continue to harbor Assange.

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.

Stepping up efforts

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."

"We've had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange," said Assange's lawyer, Barry Pollack. "They've been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange's status is in any pending investigations. There's no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher."

Pollack said WikiLeaks is just like the Washington Post and the New York Times, which routinely publish stories based on classified information. WikiLeaks, he says, publishes information that is in "the public's interest to know not just about the United States but other governments around the world."

Freedom of speech?

Assange has also compared WikiLeaks to a news media organization that uses documents provided by whistleblowers to expose the actions of governments and powerful corporations.

"Quite simply, our motive is identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post -- to publish newsworthy content," Assange wrote in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post. "Consistent with the U.S. Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media. And we strive to mitigate legitimate concerns, for example by using redaction to protect the identities of at-risk intelligence agents."

In his speech last week, Pompeo rejected that characterization and said Assange should not be afforded constitutional free speech protections.

"Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He's sitting in an Embassy in London. He's not a US citizen," Pompeo said.

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that based on CNN's reporting, "I'm glad that the Justice Department has found a way to go after Assange. He's gotten a free ride for too long."

King said Assange has "caused tremendous damage to our national security, put American lives at risk."

But Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, argued that US prosecution of Assange sets a dangerous precedent.

"Never in the history of this country has a publisher been prosecuted for presenting truthful information to the public," Wizner told CNN. "Any prosecution of WikiLeaks for publishing government secrets would set a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration would surely use to target other news organizations." your social media marketing partner


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+4 # SallySny 2017-04-21 09:05
Here is an article that looks at who a former CIA Director blames for the WikiLeaks data revelations:

Obviously, he has a vested interest in blaming outsiders for “Leaky Washington”.
+11 # mashiguo 2017-04-21 09:31
He said WikiLeaks "directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States."

How does a purported statement of fact like that slip into an article without any substantiation?
Shame on the journalist who repeats that without comment.

What jurisdiction does US have outside the country anyway?
Oh, i forgot, we can moab ecuador. That will make everyone feel better...
+14 # Citizen Mike 2017-04-21 10:07
How the hell can the Justice Department claim any jurisdiction over a noncitizen and nonresident? How might an Aussie in London be subject to US law?
+4 # itchyvet 2017-04-21 20:15
Citizen Mike, I realize it may be painfull to recognize, but the U.S. Government considers the WORLD belongs to them, and all the citizens of the World, need to abide by their dictates, if not, they bomb you into submission,and destroy your infrastructure to ensure you get the message. Assange is an Australian citizen, and does not have to comply with any U.S.laws, however the sycophant Australian Government has washed theirhands of their citizen, and have in fact, climbed in bed with their masters in Washington, leaving Assange to his fate. My only issue with Assange, is that he accepts the U.S. Government 911 fairy tale, despite the evidence clearly refuting it.
+1 # Salus Populi 2017-04-22 23:08
It's funny [not ha-ha] how on the one hand, ever since WikiLeaks first focused on U.S. crimes in the Middle East, Congressweasels like Pompeo have screamed that he was guilty of "treason" -- something a non-U.S. citizen obviously cannot by definition be guilty of -- and on the other, he is now, according to the same authority, "not a U.S. citizen."
+14 # Moxa 2017-04-21 11:05
The supreme irony: that Assange, who has been the fount of so much real information, so much truth-telling, is considered a menace by a government based on lies and cover-ups. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense in this Orwellian world. Thank God for Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, et al. who have had the courage to speak the truth in spite of great danger to their own welfare.
+14 # jimallyn 2017-04-21 11:55
What will they charge him with? Journalism?
+15 # Dale 2017-04-21 12:44
Long Live WikiLeaks!!
Power to whistleblowers!!!
Let the world know the truth of the American imperial ambition.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-04-21 17:24
The ultimate Trumped-up charges.
+2 # John S. Browne 2017-04-21 19:03

OF COURSE JULIAN ASSANGE HAS FREEDOM OF SPEECH PROTECTION(S)!! !!! Under international law, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Assange has, as a journalist and in general, the right(s) to freedom of speech without ANY violation(s) thereof; and, the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution applies to everyone in the world, especially if Assange is eventually taken into U.S. custody, even if he is in Guantanamo or a black site and not on U.S. soil.

Wikileaks and Assange didn't steal any government classified documents; and only, as many journalistic organizations have done, and continue to do, released documents that whistleblowers provided to them. And, as Assange, entirely-truthf ully, said, all of those documents were vetted very carefully prior to release to the public so they would not put any protected assets and/or agents of the government in danger; thus, contrary to what Rep. Peter King lied and said, Assange and Wikileaks have NOT "caused tremendous damage to our national security [and] put American lives at risk".

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

So, it couldn't be plainer, Assange and Wikileaks have protected free speech rights; and any claims to the contrary are nothing but lies.

0 # Michaeljohn 2017-04-21 19:37
One more nail in the coffin of democracy and the march to dictatorship Amerika
+1 # CL38 2017-04-21 22:38
What this seems to mean is that Trump/Sessions wants to shut Assange up and prevent further leaks. Let's hope the Trumprussia investigation distracts them.
-1 # ericlipps 2017-04-22 10:39
Quoting CL38:
What this seems to mean is that Trump/Sessions wants to shut Assange up and prevent further leaks. Let's hope the Trumprussia investigation distracts them.

Trump has no further use for Assange now that the latter has served his purpose by helping the Rump squat in the White House. So away with him, before he squeals!

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