Thursday, May 23, 2019

DOJ Accuses Assange of Violating Espionage Act

The Justice Department has hit WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange with Espionage Act Charges, significantly escalating a Legal Fight against the high-profile Activist.

Department of Justice (DOJ) had previously Only Indicted Assange on a Single Count of Conspiracy to Commit Computer Intrusion. Thursday’s Revelation of the Additional 17 Charges, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, means Assange could Face significantly more Prison Time if found Guilty.

The alleged Espionage Act Violations relate to Assange’s Complicity with Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army Soldier who was Convicted in July 2013 of Violating the Espionage Act after he shuttled Troves of Classified Government Information to WikiLeaks.

Traditionally the Espionage Act has been used against Government Officials, like Manning, who reveal such Classified Information, rather than Foreign Nationals, and Journalists who Publish the Information.

Assange’s Legal Case took off in April after Ecuador Revoked its Seven-year Asylum, forcing him out of the Embassy in London and Paving the way for his Extradition to the U.S. for one of the Biggest ever Leaks of Classified Information.

DOJ Officials said they could Not Comment on how this might affect Assange’s Extradition from the U.K. to the U.S.

Among the Charges are Three Counts that Assange Violated the Espionage Act, which Prohibits the Disclosure of National Defense Information.

The DOJ alleged that Assange Published Select State Department Cables that contained the Unredacted Names of Human Sources in China, Iran, and Syria. He also Published Afghan Activity Reports and Iraq Activity Reports that Endangered Local Afghans and Iraqis, Prosecutors alleged.

“It was explicitly stated in the State Department cables that the identity of sources was to be protected,” a DOJ Official told Reporters. “Assange was warned by the State Department not to release the names but he did so nevertheless.”

Zach Terwilliger, the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, emphasized that the Government was “not charging Assange for passively obtaining classified information.” Rather, he is being Prosecuted for Publishing “a narrow set of classified documents in which Assange also published the names of innocent people who risked their safety” to help the U.S. “Assange is not charged simply because he is a publisher,” Terwilliger told Reporters.

John Demers, Head of DOJ’s National Security Division, argued that Assange is “not a journalist,” alleging that the WikiLeaks Founder “purposely published names he knew to be confidential human sources in warzones.”

John Brown, the FBI Assistant Director for National Security, said the Indictment was “the result of nearly a decade” of work.

The Original Indictment, brought in March 2018 and Unsealed in April 2019, Charged Assange with Conspiring with Manning to Hack a Government Computer to obtain Hundreds of Thousands of U.S. Military Reports about U.S. Wars in the Middle East. WikiLeaks later Published the Leaked Information.

Assange faces up-to 10 years in Prison on each of Counts, 180 years.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

No comments: