New Assange Indictment Makes Insane, Unprecedented Use Of Espionage Act On Things Journalists Do All The Time

from the whoa dept

As we noted when Julian Assange was arrested in the UK last month, it was notable how... lacking the charges were. The whole thing revolved around an apparently failed attempt to help Chelsea Manning crack a CIA password. We still had significant concerns about the way the CFAA was being used, and the fact that the description of the "conspiracy" involved actions that tons of journalists do every day -- but the original indictment didn't have what was most feared: use of the Espionage Act against the actions of a news organization. At the time, some knowledgeable observers pointed out that it was likely a superseding indictment would come, and it wouldn't surprise them if it had Espionage Act charges. And they were right.

On Thursday the DOJ unsealed the new indictment against Assange and it should absolutely terrify anyone who believes in a free press and the 1st Amendment. It takes a whole variety of things that journalists at major publications do every single day -- finding and cultivating sources, getting information and publishing that information -- as evidence of Espionage Act violations. We've always had issues with the Espionage Act, which we believe is almost certainly unconstitutional. In the past, we've highlighted how it's been used in ridiculous ways against many whistleblowers, and it doesn't even allow for a defendant to give a reason for why they leaked documents (i.e., they can't say they did it to blow the whistle on government malfeasance -- it's just automatically treated as espionage, which is nonsensical).

However, this indictment goes much further. It's not going after an actual leaker, it's going after a publisher. It's so bad that even Obama-era officials (who used the Espionage Act against leakers more times than any other President in history combined) seem horrified. This is from the former DOJ spokesperson in the Obama admin:

Much of the indictment focuses on Wikileaks/Assange cultivating sources and requesting information -- which is what lots of reporters do all the time. For example, the first count includes the following actions:

To willfully communicate documents relating to the national defense—namely, detainee assessment briefs related to detainees who were held at Guantanamo Bay, U.S. State Department cables, Iraq rules of engagement files, and documents containing the names of individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere around the world, who risked their safety and freedom by providing information to the United States and our allies, which were classified up to the SECRET level—from persons having lawful possession of or access to such documents, to persons not entitled to receive them

But, that's what lots of reporters do all the time in cultivating sources within the government. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became celebrated and famous by getting government officials to leak classified information. Indeed, it's what a bunch of reporters at the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. are doing right now to try to find information about this White House. And, yes, President Trump likes to refer to them as "fake news," and if you buy that you are too stupid to read this site, so go away. This is a full frontal attack on the First Amendment and basic reporting. If this works it sets a precedent to go after any investigative reporting of the government.

It's also notable -- and ridiculous -- that the indictment focuses on the supposed "danger" that Assange/Wikileaks put people into by publishing the documents that Chelsea Manning leaked.

The significant activity reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that ASSANGE published included names of local Afghans and Iraqis who had provided information to U.S. and coalition forces. The State Department cables that WikiLeaks published included names of persons throughout the world who provided information to the U.S. government in circumstances in which they could reasonably expect that their identities would be kept confidential. These sources included journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents who were living in repressive regimes and reported to the United States the abuses of their own government, and the political conditions within their countries, at great risk to their own safety. By publishing these documents without redacting the human sources' names or other identifying information, ASSANGE created a grave and imminent risk that the innocent people he named would suffer serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention.

News publishers often have to make difficult decisions about publishing certain info that could cause harm, but it does not violate the Espionage Act to do so in the service of informing the public. Even worse, as has been detailed for many years now, the US government admitted back in 2013 that not a single death was caused by Manning's leaks, and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates even called claims of harm "overwrought" and said:

“Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’

In fact, Reuters reported (via its own cultivated sources and leaks) that the "damage" claims were purposefully exaggerated by Obama admin officials in the hopes that it would create enough to bring these bogus charges against Assange:

A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.

“I think they just want to present the toughest front they can muster,” the official said.

But State Department officials have privately told Congress they expect overall damage to U.S. foreign policy to be containable, said the official, one of two congressional aides familiar with the briefings who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The only "evidence" of harm shown in the indictment is just that Osama bin-Laden had some copies of the Wikileaks files when the US killed him:

On May 2, 2011, United States armed forces raided the compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. During the raid, they collected a number of items of digital media, which included the following: (1) a letter from bin Laden to another member of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda in which bin Laden requested that the member gather the DoD material posted to WikiLeaks, (2) a letter from that same member of al-Qaeda to Bin Laden with information from the Afghanistan War Documents provided by Manning to WikiLeaks and released by WikiLeaks, and (3) Department of State information provided by Manning to WikiLeaks and released by WikiLeaks.

There are a few other claims of people made "vulnerable" by Wikileaks publishing the Manning documents, but no evidence of actual harm.

So, let's be clear here: the US government has admitted to making bullshit claims about non-existent "harms" done by Wikileaks, and now it's using that to charge a news publisher with espionage for doing the same sort of work that tons of reporters do every day. It's an incredible attack on the 1st Amendment from this administration, and one that hopefully the courts will shut down.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, chelsea manning, doj, espionage act, journalism, julian assange
Companies: wikileaks


Reader Comments

The First Word

I'm just going to paste something I read elsewhere:

"Well, erm, having actually read the entire indictment (anyone? anyone?) he very, very clearly is NOT being charged for publishing the material but rather for being a very active accomplice in obtaining the material, actively and specifically encouraging more material to be obtained, and actively working and cooperating with Manning to search for and break into classified systems to obtain more material.

Their is no specific "publisher" exception to the Espionage Act. There is simply the fact that the crime is working actively to take the classified material and transfer it to the third party who is not authorized to have it. If you are simply the third party then you are not part of the crime. That is traditionally exactly where journalists stand.

Frankly, if a New York Times reporter were ACTIVELY working with someone to help them break into classified systems, ACTIVELY helping to encourage and direct their search, and even ACTIVELY helping to crack passwords and otherwise breach classified systems, then by all the gods the NYT reporter should be charged and convicted as well. That is just straight-up espionage.

The "publisher" exception is based completely on the fact that the publisher is a neutral third part who simply receives the information but was not actively working to obtain it.

Here are just a few choice quotes from the indictment:

C. ASSANGE Encouraged Manning to Continue Her Theft of Classified Documents and Agreed to Help Her Crack a Password Hash to a Military Computer.

  1. During large portions of the same time period (between November 2009, when Manning first became interested in WikiLeaks, through her arrest on or about May 27, 2010), Manning was in direct contact with ASSANGE, who encouraged Manning to steal classified documents from the United States and unlawfully disclose that information to WikiLeaks.

  2. In furtherance of this scheme, ASSANGE agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password hash stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications, as designated according to Executive Order No. 13526 or its predecessor orders.
    It goes on with several more pages of this type of stuff. Assange was very clearly actively helping and aiding Manning in obtaining the classified information.

The fact the Assange also published the information is a fact established in the indictment. It is part of the crime, because the crime consists of (1) actively working to obtain the classified information and aiding and abetting the efforts to received it, and (2) then also transferring it to unauthorized people.

If you only do (2), as any ethical reporter would, then you are scot free.

if you do both (1) and (2), as Assange did, then you are opening yourself up wide to prosecution and you takes your lumps if you get them."

—Anonymous Coward

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 3:12pm

    That's a feature, not a bug

    But, that's what lots of reporters do all the time in cultivating sources within the government. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became celebrated and famous by getting government officials to leak classified information. Indeed, it's what a bunch of reporters at the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. are doing right now to try to find information about this White House. And, yes, President Trump likes to refer to them as "fake news," and if you buy that you are too stupid to read this site, so go away. This is a full frontal attack on the First Amendment and basic reporting. If this works it sets a precedent to go after any investigative reporting of the government.

    Welp, I'd say it's pretty clear what the goal with this trial is, beyond merely sticking it to someone the USG has hated for years.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 3:17pm

      As if we needed more proof that the United States is being run by a wannabe dictator.

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      • icon
        Thad (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 3:44pm

        Re:

        I kinda doubt Donald "I love Wikileaks" Trump is the guy spearheading this effort. He's not doing anything to stop it, but this is the DoJ's ballgame.

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      • identicon
        David, 23 May 2019 @ 4:08pm

        Re:

        As if we needed more proof that the United States is being run by a wannabe dictator.

        Sorry to rain on your parade, but Trump may be a wannabe stable genius (by the way, "stable genius" sounds like what you'd call a smart horse). What the U.S. did to presidential and executive privilege in the years leading up to his presidency, however, does not make him a mere wannabe dictator.

        Just now he has stated that he is not going to involve the House in any more of his policy-making and is going to do everything by declaring national emergencies and other shenanigans he is entitled to abuse.

        He is a wannabe in a lot of categories. Dictator, unfortunately, is not one of them.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 6:05pm

          Re: Re:

          I honestly doubt he would even want to stay president if people stopped saying his name so much. He would get bored and find a reason to move on.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 9:27am

          Re: Re:

          Trump's powers are greater than they should be, but they're still limited. He can threaten emergency declarations all he likes, but his first one is still tied up in court.

          And while Trump has certainly done everything he can to fill the federal courts with sympathetic judges, ultimately he has a child's understanding of how the legal system works. He sees everything in starkly partisan terms, us-versus-them.

          And while there certainly are partisan problems on the federal courts, and Trump and McConnell are doing everything they can to increase that split, conservatism doesn't mean what Trump thinks it does. He thinks this is a matter of "Democratic appointees will rule against me, Republican appointees will rule for me." And sure, sometimes that's the case. But it's not as simple as that.

          I don't think you're going to find a lot of judges sympathetic to the argument that a president can use the Emergency Powers Act to override congressional budgets. No matter who appointed them.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 5:53am

          Re: Re:

          "Dictator, unfortunately, is not one of them."

          unfortunately?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 3:31pm

      Re: That's a feature, not a bug

      You raise an very interesting point.

      Watergate featured exactly, that is exactly, the same list of organizations doing exactly the same thing in Watergate as is now occurring to Trump.

      And, in my lift time, that is times I personally have viewed on TV, Trump Russia mania is the fourth incident of main stream media staging a political witch trial by slander.

      The first TV barrage was Alger Hiss
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alger_Hiss

      and McCarthyism
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

      in which Nixon played a star roll.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Nixon

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 4:13pm

        Re: You do realise Nixon was guilty as hell

        You really are’t helping your cause by citing Hiss either. As on balance he very well might have been a spy. Let me guess, you didn’t think your “cunning” plan all the way through did you?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 4:26pm

          Re: Re: You do realise Nixon was guilty as hell

          Having live through it most like what happened was that the FBI set up an operation that went sower. FBI because years later it came out that Deep Throat was the Deputy Director. Most likely what Nixon was told was that the operation anti Soviet an intelligence gathering and that the FBI was going to bug the Soviet Consulate in The Watergate complex. Nixon the attempted to cover this up. So if that is what you mean guilty probably yes but what it was really about was the his anti communist activity with McCarthy and the events surrounding the communist purge of Hollywood.

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        • identicon
          DNY, 24 May 2019 @ 6:00pm

          Re: Re: You do realise Nixon was guilty as hell

          Of course Hiss was a spy. The Soviet archives released after the collapse of the Soviet Union tell us his code name was "Antenna".

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 4:31pm

        Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

        ... I can't tell if you're trying to defend Trump and doing a terrible job at it, or comparing one corrupt president with another, though given the joke that is 'witch hunt' when it relates to him I suspect it's the former.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 1:20am

          Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

          The joke is that for a witch hunt, there sure are a lot of "witches" being found, even if no direct ties between Trump and Russia have been fully proven (which itself is more to do with destruction of evidence than it is with there not being anything to find). The investigation even paid for itself.

          What amuses me is that Trump and his fans still seem rather too loud and scared about something of which he's supposedly been cleared. Almost as if they know there's more coming and plenty of evidence to back it...

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          • identicon
            David, 24 May 2019 @ 4:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

            The funny thing is that the lack of prosecutable interference with justice is not because Trump didn't try but because his underlings disobeyed his instructions for interference.

            As long as he keeps firing his personnel faster than it adapts to his morals, there is hope for the U.S.

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 8:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

            Indeed, that's what I find so funny about the 'witch hunt' narrative, in that historically the context behind the term is hunting for something that isn't there. Contrast that with the 'witch hunt' related to Trump on the other hand and would you just look at all those 'witches' it flushed out...

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 8:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

              Plus, the reason why witch hunts are bad isn't so much that they're hunting for things that aren't there but the fact that they railroad innocent people. From Torquemada to Salem to McCarthy, many people were destroyed due to false allegations. That's why it's problematic - you might not be a communist, but a false accusation can still get you blacklists in 50s Hollywood, for example.

              I haven't seen such a thing here. There's been plenty of people locked up as a result of the investigation, but the likes of Manafort and Stone are being put away for things they did. I've seen nobody suffer consequences due to a false accusation here, just horrible people finally being served justice for years, even decades of wrongdoing. Long may this continue.

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      • identicon
        Bruce C., 23 May 2019 @ 11:23pm

        Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

        Are you saying that both Watergate and the various Trump investigations are/were all witch-hunts orchestrated by public media and the Democrats?

        I note that you don't include the Whitewater/Starr investigation in the list. If I'm understanding your point correctly, I'd like to hear your definition of a witch-hunt such that it includes Watergate but excludes Whitewater.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 1:25am

          Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

          "I'd like to hear your definition of a witch-hunt such that it includes Watergate but excludes Whitewater"

          I presume something along the lines of "it's OK when a Republican does it, but Democrats should be burned at the stake even if they didn't do anything".

          The last administration has been hounded through multiple investigations over Benghazi but nothing other than innuendo has ever been found. The Mueller investigation delivered a lot of indictments and even convictions, and the final fallout is yet to be seen with more convictions doubtless on their was despite Barr's attempts to hide the full report. Anyone who thinks the latter was a witch hunt but not the latter is just a partisan shill at their most nakedly transparent.

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  • icon
    Peter (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 3:19pm

    could reasonably expect their identities to be kept confidential

    Indeed they could. So why would the US Government place such sensitive information in a) electronic databases that can b) be accessed by millions of government employees with no relation whatsoever to the project the informants work for?

    Someone should go to prison for this. But not the messenger!

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  • identicon
    Agammamon, 23 May 2019 @ 3:21pm

    "It takes a whole variety of things that journalists at major publications do every single day -- finding and cultivating sources, getting information and publishing that information -- as evidence of Espionage Act violations."

    You can take exception to the act itself - I do - but, yeah. The thing journalists (well, when they're not parroting press releases as an 'ad-financed' freelance PR flack) do is uncover and collect information on things that other people would like to keep secret.

    You know, spying.

    There should, IMO, be no difference when they do it to, say, Welles Fargo or to a government. If you can't keep your secrets secret then that is your problem and you should fix yourself, not flail around at everyone else.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 3:52pm

      Re:

      You can take exception to the act itself - I do - but, yeah. The thing journalists (well, when they're not parroting press releases as an 'ad-financed' freelance PR flack) do is uncover and collect information on things that other people would like to keep secret.

      You know, spying.

      ...that's not really what "spying" means.

      There should, IMO, be no difference when they do it to, say, Welles Fargo or to a government. If you can't keep your secrets secret then that is your problem and you should fix yourself, not flail around at everyone else.

      I'm not sure what you mean. There are a lot of situations where secrets can be leaked and the person who leaks them is legally liable. If a Wells Fargo employee were to illegally download customer data and sell it to fraudsters, for example, that employee would certainly be legally liable.

      But the issue here is that the person who illegally accessed and shared the classified information has already been charged, convicted, and served most of a prison sentence (the rest of which was commuted). That would be Chelsea Manning.

      Assange is being charged under the Espionage Act merely for soliciting and publishing classified information. That's a completely different thing, and has serious negative ramifications.

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      • identicon
        Agammamon, 23 May 2019 @ 7:19pm

        Re: Re:

        What does spying mean then?

        It means ferreting out secrets to me.

        "Assange is being charged . . . for soliciting . . .classified information."

        Yes - exactly what every espionage agency in the world does.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 9:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If this is going to be another one of those conversations where someone pretends not to understand the difference between governments and private actors, then I'm out.

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          • identicon
            Agammamon, 24 May 2019 @ 9:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ah, you're one of those people that thing governments should be granted special privileges.

            Which is why we have a government that maintains secret drone lists, snatches people to be sent to foreign governments to be tortured, and generally acts as if its not accountable to the people.

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 10:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ah, you're one of those people that thing governments should be granted special privileges.

              If the best you offer a strawman stating exactly the opposite of what I'm arguing, then we're definitely done here.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 5:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Ah, you're one of those people that thing governments should be granted special privileges."

              I'm curious - what sort of special privs and are there examples.

              Also, is there a country in which government has not granted themselves special privs?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 3:51pm

    On the plus side, if they get a conviction, it seems likely to go to the Supreme Court. Of course, who the Supreme Court issues a smackdown to may be for grabs, given their record on border exceptions, "third party doctrine", and general deference.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 4:29pm

    Not a citizen of the United States

    Umm. He is not a citizen of the United States last I checked. So why 18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 37— ESPIONAGE AND CENSORSHIP? Shouldn't the US government use the Government laws where WIKIleaks reside? Any foreign adversary could / would fall into this section. Isn't that why there is a international court?

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 4:34pm

      Re: Not a citizen of the United States

      If I had to guess it's probably because charges under the espionage act don't allow motive as a defense. It's solely 'Did you do X?', why the accused may have done X isn't allowed to be raised as a defense.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 8:01pm

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        don't allow motive as a defense. It's solely 'Did you do X?'

        Funny how the government gets to tell a shaggy dog story though. He created a "grave and immiment risk", "innocent people...would suffer harm", etc., and then in the end nothing happened.

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      • identicon
        Paul Brinker, 24 May 2019 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        Might be a really good ask for a Lawyer, but can you fight the Espionage Act based on jurisdiction? Your using the act the same way you would charge a spy working in Russia right now.

        Hes not a US citizen, all acts were committed outside the US, and the crime itself was committed by someone else. This is like charging the KGB agent for having documents handed to him, which by all means makes no sense as the KGB agent is not loyal, nor doing anything illegal.

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    • identicon
      Agammamon, 23 May 2019 @ 7:22pm

      Re: Not a citizen of the United States

      The USG can't use the laws of where someone resides - because the USG doesn't have jurisdiction outside of the United States. That's on top of massive incompatibilities between legal systems in other countries and the human rights the USG is obligated to honor and protect.

      The US can only prosecute someone who has broken US laws in a US jurisdiction. Sadly the US considers itself to have worldwide jurisdiction over US citizens, but that's a separate matter.

      So it can't prosecute Assange using, say, UK laws.

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      • identicon
        Agammamon, 23 May 2019 @ 7:23pm

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        The 'international' court only deals with 'warcrimes' and nothing else.

        There is no 'international court' to speak of - not to adjudicate disputes between states nor to prosecute individuals.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        Depends on what country they are in. If they a dual national, and are in their other country if citizenship, US laws do not apply.

        When I ran my online radio station out of Australia, and travelled there. I, as an Aussie citizen, was only subject to Australian laws, while in Australian soil.

        An Australian citizen is only subject to Australian laws, while they are on Australian soil, even if they are also US citizens.

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    • identicon
      DNY, 24 May 2019 @ 6:09pm

      Re: Not a citizen of the United States

      Indeed that is a problem with this. The US government might be able to persuade the Australian government or the government of another allied nation in which Assange was located when the alleged conspiracy took place, provided that country has laws against espionage against not only its own government, but the governments of allies -- I'm not sure that status of such laws as an aspect of "Five Eyes" cooperation.

      The real question is whether we really like a precedent that says our laws can be applied to non-US-citizens outside the borders of the United States. If so, what's to stop Chinese, or Russian, or Iranian, or EU laws from being applied to American acting within the United States? Next thing you know Americans tried and convicted in absentia by courts in some unfriendly country will be being snatched while on vacation.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 4:38am

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        Australian citizens are only subject to Australian laws while on Australian soil, even if they are US citizene.

        For example, if I am in Australia and want to, say, smoke a Cuban cigar while I am there, the prohibition on us citizens smoking Cuban cigars does not apply to me. As an Aussie citizen traveling in Australia, I only have to obey Australian law while I am down there

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 4:41am

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        Arrest warrants are all on computers

        Before traveling abroad, you make sure that arrest warrants out there are erased so that you will not be arrested or extradited

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 11:48pm

        Re: Re: Not a citizen of the United States

        Another thing countries could do is cancel their extradition treaties with the USA.

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  • icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 4:44pm

    From the WHOA Department

    You mean from the Crash Bandicoot Department?

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  • identicon
    dreddsnik, 23 May 2019 @ 5:16pm

    This is something that's said again and again .. and always forgotten.

    Before you cheer too loudly at what 'your guy' was able to get away with keep in
    mind that the next guy can and WILL use it too ... and he may not be 'your guy'.

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  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 23 May 2019 @ 5:47pm

    Debasing the Constitution to Protect War Criminals

    New Assange Indictment Makes Insane, Unprecedented Use Of Espionage Act On Things Journalists Do All The Time

    The indictment has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with extracting a measure of vengeance as the US government seeks to destroy Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and any other persons with the temerity to investigate/expose war crimes (ie torture, collective punishment, targeting civilians, cutting off access to medical care, assassination campaigns, etc) that were/are ordered/directed from the upper echelons the US national security state spanning four presidential administrations beginning with Clinton continuing through Trump.

    The war criminals hiding within the US government have less than zero chances of being prosecuted - no - they are concerned with being humiliated and will abuse every iota of power at their disposal to save face.

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  • identicon
    bobob, 23 May 2019 @ 8:01pm

    More constitutional decimation to "Make America Grate Again."

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 May 2019 @ 11:27pm

    Our cockroach in chief hates light getting shined on his actions. This is the beginning of snuffing the light.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Annonymouse, 24 May 2019 @ 4:16am

      Re:

      When you see that first audacious cockroach it is already to late and the house has been fully infested.

      My question is: what this and previous governments have been hiding behind the noise ?

      We already have some idea now about some of those shenanigans yet those real crimes have been swept aside and ignored in favor of the titillating noise and blaming the spotlight.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 9:22am

      Re:

      Again, weird as it feels to defend Trump, I think it's silly to pin this on him.

      He doesn't care about prosecuting Assange or punishing Wikileaks; indeed, they've acted in his interest, repeatedly. (He said "I love Wikileaks" frequently on the campaign trail; since Assange's arrest, he's switched to "I don't know Wikileaks; it's not really my thing.") He's not doing anything to stop this prosecution, but he's not steering it, either.

      He doesn't care. It's one more case where someone he used to consider an ally has gotten in trouble with the law and now he's pretending he never said any of those things.

      While Trump would certainly love to see more prosecutions against the press, I don't think he's looking at this in those terms. He is not a man who thinks more than one step ahead. There may very well be a long-term plan here to crack down on the press, but that plan isn't Trump's. He's not a planner.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 2:34am

    A publisher is being charged with espionage

    ... and the press will cheer.

    First they came for the journalists ...
    We dont know what happened after that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 5:45am

    I could see countries, in the future, refusing to extradite any reporter or newspaper editor under this law, if Assange is convicted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 6:07am

    Best outcome we can hope for

    I would love to see the unconstitutional abomination that is the espionage act finally get a stake driven through its heart, its head severed from its shoulders and stuffed full of garlic and tossed into the sunlight. That absurdly unconstitutional law needed to die a century ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 6:07am

    It is fortunate for Assange that we are not living in the post Red Dawn/WWIII world.

    In one alternate history timeline, based on the movie, in a far more right wing USA, following WWIII, Julian Assange is put to death in 2011 under provisions of an espionage act that carry the death penalty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R.o.g.s. Is In Moderation, 24 May 2019 @ 7:30am

    Well, maybe its not "fake news ” to those of us trained to report and investigate facts, and so on.

    But what it is is horrifically biased news which isnt as catchy as “fake news, ”but hey, Edfie Bernays would be proud of the Donald.

    And, considering that many claims in Sharyl Atkissons lawsuit agaiinst DOJ are now validated, and refuted (I mean: what journalist names sources in a lawsuit anyways, much less reveals a prosecution strategy by naming names? )

    But that didnt stop the sectarian /tribal smear campaign here at tribalist TD and elsewhere fiddling as journalism burns :

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150106/09373829610/sharyl-attkisson-sues-justice-department-hac king-her-cbs-laptop-over-benghazi-reports-even-though-that-didnt-happen.shtml

    Since her lawsuit, a slew of her claims take on new meaning. The CIA i.deed does use our t.vs to spy on us. The USPS is indeed unvolved heavily in lending resoyrces to DHS et ass.

    And, her forensics expert is now revealed as ex -NSA., and more.

    This is why western media is indeed garbage. Profitable Fabianist sectarian garbage.

    .....(Finishing my latest post to Pravda now )

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R.o.g.s.Bernays, 24 May 2019 @ 8:03am

    Atkisson lawsuit dismissal indemnifies government spying after rulings forcing limited discovery:

    https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/05/federal-courts-indemnify-improper-government-spying-on-u-s-citi zens/

    Federal courts indemnify improper government spying on U.S. citizens

    May 19, 2019 by Sharyl Attkisson 8 Comments

    In a far-reaching decision Friday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals indemnified improper government spying, protecting the offending federal agents from punishment and making it nearly impossible for harmed citizens to ever receive justice.

    The decision comes in Attkisson v. the Department of Justice and the FBI for the long-term forensically-confirmed government computer intrusions of her personal and work devices while she was an investigative correspondent for CBS News.

    Correction: Golem-nifies illegal government spying

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 8:21am

    Pirate Mike is fake news!

    Everyone I don't like is a terrorist! Pirates are terrorists! Pirate Mike is Terrorist Mike who supports Terrorist Julian Assange and they're both fake news!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R.o.g.s. Moderated, 24 May 2019 @ 8:24am

    Sharyl Atkisson lawsuit tossed

    Dissenting opinion by Hon. James Wynn:

    https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/05/federal-judge-justice-department-kafkaesque-in-attkisson-v -doj-and-fbi-for-government-computer-intrusions/

    Federal judge: Justice Department “Kafkaesque” in Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI for government computer intrusions

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 9:42am

    I'm just going to paste something I read elsewhere:

    "Well, erm, having actually read the entire indictment (anyone? anyone?) he very, very clearly is NOT being charged for publishing the material but rather for being a very active accomplice in obtaining the material, actively and specifically encouraging more material to be obtained, and actively working and cooperating with Manning to search for and break into classified systems to obtain more material.

    Their is no specific "publisher" exception to the Espionage Act. There is simply the fact that the crime is working actively to take the classified material and transfer it to the third party who is not authorized to have it. If you are simply the third party then you are not part of the crime. That is traditionally exactly where journalists stand.

    Frankly, if a New York Times reporter were ACTIVELY working with someone to help them break into classified systems, ACTIVELY helping to encourage and direct their search, and even ACTIVELY helping to crack passwords and otherwise breach classified systems, then by all the gods the NYT reporter should be charged and convicted as well. That is just straight-up espionage.

    The "publisher" exception is based completely on the fact that the publisher is a neutral third part who simply receives the information but was not actively working to obtain it.

    Here are just a few choice quotes from the indictment:

    C. ASSANGE Encouraged Manning to Continue Her Theft of Classified Documents and Agreed to Help Her Crack a Password Hash to a Military Computer.

    1. During large portions of the same time period (between November 2009, when Manning first became interested in WikiLeaks, through her arrest on or about May 27, 2010), Manning was in direct contact with ASSANGE, who encouraged Manning to steal classified documents from the United States and unlawfully disclose that information to WikiLeaks.

    2. In furtherance of this scheme, ASSANGE agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password hash stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications, as designated according to Executive Order No. 13526 or its predecessor orders.
      It goes on with several more pages of this type of stuff. Assange was very clearly actively helping and aiding Manning in obtaining the classified information.

    The fact the Assange also published the information is a fact established in the indictment. It is part of the crime, because the crime consists of (1) actively working to obtain the classified information and aiding and abetting the efforts to received it, and (2) then also transferring it to unauthorized people.

    If you only do (2), as any ethical reporter would, then you are scot free.

    if you do both (1) and (2), as Assange did, then you are opening yourself up wide to prosecution and you takes your lumps if you get them."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      The issue here is that DoJ is trying to use the Espionage Act as an overbroad cudgel, instead of focusing narrowly on what's far more clearly illegal conduct (the Manning/Assange conspiracy to crack the passworded spreadsheet) and focusing narrowly on why it was problematic (bypass of an effective technological authorization mechanism), instead of diverging into trying to make irrelevant conduct out as suspicious.

      Or in short: less is more, here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 10:45am

    everything that has happened to Assange has been to get him to the US and either put to death or banged up forever and a day! that includes the charges brought against him by Sweden and the 2 women there. if it wasn't, why were those charges dropped, the case closed and suddenly reopened as soon as he was expelled from the Argentinian Embassy? if the UK is stupid enough to allow extradition to Sweden, Sweden, bent over grabbing ankles as usual for the US, will immediately allow him to be extradited to the US. you will then hear nothing of him, ever again!
    then you have people saying that Assange isn't a journalist! funny how that has just been decided! as stated, journalists do this sort of thing every day but as the US government has been severely embarrassed by the documents released by Wikileaks, (a 'non-journalistic enterprise, or so it has now been classified so the US can make these further 'Trumped' up charges) revenge is the order of the day!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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