Tag Archives: Julian

Julian Assange Extradition Could Take Months, or Even Years

Julian Assange Extradition Could Take Months, or Even YearsNow, after he finally overstayed his welcome, he will try to buy more time in the U.K. courts. Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder said he will fight extradition to the U.S., where he faces charges that he took part in a hacking conspiracy with ex-Army analyst Chelsea Manning to disclose classified government material. While Assange’s attorneys argued that the charges are an illegal attempt to punish a journalist for publishing information, extradition lawyers said that the best he will be able to do is delay his arrival to the U.S. through a process that will likely stretch into 2020.



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Julian Assange arrested by British police at Ecuadorean embassy

Julian Assange arrested by British police at Ecuadorean embassyThe Wikileaks founder was taken into custody by British police on Thursday morning, seven years after entering his embassy hideout.



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Julian Assange's charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warn

Julian Assange's charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warnParts of the indictment go head-to-head with basic journalistic activities protected by the first amendment, academics say A protester outside Westminster magistrates court in London on 11 April. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images The charge sheet accusing Julian Assange of engaging in criminal theft of US state secrets contains a direct assault on fundamental press freedoms and could have a devastating effect on the basic acts of journalism, leading first amendment scholars and advocacy groups have warned. Prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia released on Thursday an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder that has been under seal since March 2018. It will now form the basis of the US government’s request for Assange to be extradited from the UK to Alexandria to face trial. Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. They said these sections of the charges rang alarm bells that should reverberate around the world. Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor who wrote the first major legal study of the legal implications of prosecuting WikiLeaks, said the charge sheet contained some “very dangerous elements that pose significant risk to national security reporting. Sections of the indictment are vastly overbroad and could have a significant chilling effect – they ought to be rejected.” Carrie DeCell, staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the charges “risk having a chill on journalism”. She added that the tone of the indictment and the public release from the Department of Justice that went with it suggested that the US government desired precisely that effect. “Many of the allegations fall absolutely within the first amendment’s protections of journalistic activity. That’s very troubling to us.” Among the phrases contained in the indictment that have provoked an uproar are: “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records from departments and agencies of the United States.” It is a basic function of journalism to encourage sources to provide information in the public interest on the activities of government. “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks.” Protecting the anonymity of sources is the foundation stone of much investigative and national security reporting – without it sources would not be willing to divulge information, and the press would be unable to fulfill its role of holding power to account. “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records.” The indictment similarly refers to a dropbox. Both Jabber and Dropbox are communication tools routinely used by journalists working with whistleblowers. A key element of the indictment is a new allegation that Assange actively engaged in helping Manning try to crack a password that allowed the US soldier to gain unauthorized and anonymous access to highly sensitive military computers. At the time, in 2010, Manning was working as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base outside Baghdad. Experts on freedom of the press and speech were generally more relaxed about that narrow charge, standing on its own, in that it essentially accuses Assange of violating computer hacking laws – specifically the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – in a way that has no first amendment protection. If prosecutors succeed in presenting evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to that effect, it is unlikely to arouse fierce opposition across the board. Bradley P Moss, deputy executive of the James Madison Project, a public-interest group focusing on US intelligence and national security, said he was unflustered by the hacking allegation. “I have no concerns about the broader ramifications for press freedoms, whether in the US or elsewhere. What Julian Assange did is what journalists are trained not to do.” But fears for the chilling impact of the prosecution were rampant. The Center for Constitutional Rights, whose late president Michael Ratner was Assange’s lawyer in the US, warned that the threat posed by the indictment was increased by having a president in the White House hostile to the media. “This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news’,” it said. Two advocacy groups working in the field of press freedom also waded in. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the wording of the charges contained “broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest”. Freedom of the Press Foundation said: “Whether or not you like Assange, the charge against him is a serious press freedom threat and should be vigorously protested by all those who care about the first amendment.”



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'A Narcissist Who Cannot See Beyond His Own Selfish Interest.' Julian Assange Rebuked by U.K. Judge After Arrest

'A Narcissist Who Cannot See Beyond His Own Selfish Interest.' Julian Assange Rebuked by U.K. Judge After ArrestFounder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has been arrested by U.K. police at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has lived since 2012.



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‘The View’s’ Meghan McCain Explodes at Sunny Hostin for Defending Julian Assange

‘The View’s’ Meghan McCain Explodes at Sunny Hostin for Defending Julian AssangeThe arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hit The View’s Meghan McCain hard on Thursday morning. “The politics of this have always been completely hypocritical on both sides,” McCain said, noting that President Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder declined to prosecute Assange on the basis that WikiLeaks is essentially a “journalistic” organization. “This is something that a lot of people who have put national security first, and I put myself in that category, have been warning about and warning about and warning about,” she continued, “and the only time the Democrats started caring is when it started affecting them politically and when Hillary Clinton's emails were released.”  Asked what will happen to Assange, McCain replied, “I hope he rots in hell!”Her co-host Sunny Hostin had a markedly different take on the matter, saying that if people “have a problem” with Assange and the secrets he published, then they must also have a problem with the the release of the Pentagon Papers and the Panama Papers, both of which she believes “protected our democracy.” She disputed the notion that Obama and Holder “punted” on Assange but rather that they decided the Constitution protected Assange "because our Constitution does protect Julian Assange.” “I’m sorry, I’ve got to push back hard on this,” McCain interrupted, to which Hostin said, “Excuse me, you can push back after I’m finished speaking.” Once Hostin had concluded her point about how the First Amendment should protect Assange’s right to disseminate even stolen material, McCain shot back, “I think what you said was just straight propaganda. They’re not First Amendment—he was a cyber terrorist from day one!” “There's a difference, Sunny, in being a whistleblower and being a straight-up hacker,” Abby Huntsman said, backing up McCain. “What we found out with Assange is he conspired with Russia to meddle in our 2016 elections. If that's not him committing a crime, I don't know what is.” Ultimately, as she did earlier in the week, moderator Whoopi Goldberg had to break up the fight and throw to commercial. “Whatever it is, we got to go,” she said. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Chronicle of Julian Assange's stay in the Ecuadorian embassy

Chronicle of Julian Assange's stay in the Ecuadorian embassyLONDON (AP) — Julian Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, was arrested at the Embassy of Ecuador in London Thursday — seven years after he first took refuge there.



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Julian Assange charged by US with computer hacking conspiracy

Julian Assange charged by US with computer hacking conspiracyUS justice department alleges that Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning to break into a secret Pentagon computer network * Follow live updates on Julian Assange’s arrest in LondonWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen in a police van, after he was arrested by British police in London Thursday. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/ReutersJulian Assange has been charged by the US with conspiring to hack into a secret Pentagon computer network, in a criminal indictment unveiled soon after the WikiLeaks founder’s arrest in London.Assange is accused of working with Chelsea Manning, then a US army intelligence analyst, to break into the defense department network in March 2010 to obtain classified documents.Assange, 47, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted, though he may yet face additional charges.US prosecutors allege Assange helped Manning crack an encrypted password to gain access to the computer network under a username that did not belong to her, making it more difficult for authorities to trace the source of leaked documents.“Assange, who did not possess a security clearance or need to know, was not authorised to receive classified information of the United States,” they said.Manning had by then given WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of secret government records, including logs from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She went on to give them a huge cache of secret diplomatic cables. Some of the files were published by WikiLeaks in partnership with news organisations including the Guardian.The indictment cited online discussions between the two in which Assange was seen “actively encouraging Manning to provide more information”, the justice department said.“After this upload, that’s all I really have got left,” Manning was said to have told Assange in one message. Assange allegedly replied: “Curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”Assange was secretly indicted in March last year by a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, according to the documents released on Thursday. The charge remained a secret until it was partly revealed by the justice department in a mistaken court filing last November.By charging Assange with hacking rather than for publishing classified information, US prosecutors avoided having to directly challenge the press freedoms guaranteed under the first amendment of the US constitution.The charge accuses Assange of conspiring to “knowingly access a computer without authorisation” in order to obtain secret information whose release “could be used to the injury of the United States and the advantage of any foreign nation”.But allies of Assange said the US was prosecuting a publisher by the back door.Barry Pollack, an attorney for the WikiLeaks founder, condemned what he called “an unprecedented effort” to “extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information”. Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, described Assange’s arrest as “a dark moment for press freedom”.Barack Obama’s administration was known to have investigated WikiLeaks in the years following the release of Manning’s document haul. But Eric Holder, Obama’s first attorney general, reportedly decided against bringing charges out of concerns that a precedent could be set for prosecuting publishers.The grand jury in Virginia has continued investigating Assange in recent months, indicating the possibility of future charges. WikiLeaks has come under scrutiny for publishing leaked spying tools taken from the CIA, and for releasing emails hacked from the accounts of senior Democrats during the 2016 election campaign.Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said in response to the charges that Assange had become “a direct participant in Russian efforts to undermine the west” and should be punished.The US confirmed it would seek the extradition of Assange from the UK. He was arrested on Thursday morning at the embassy of Ecuador, where he had been staying since 2012 after being granted asylum. He was then under investigation by authorities in Sweden for allegations of sexual assault, which he denied.Attorneys for Assange said they would fight the extradition process, which could result in a lengthy legal dispute in the British courts system.Manning was convicted in 2013 under the Espionage Act for stealing classified government records. In May 2017 she was released from a military prison in Kansas after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence. Barack Obama granted Manning clemency during his final days in office.Manning has been jailed in Virginia for the past month after being found in contempt of court for refusing to testify to the grand jury investigating Assange. She was held in solitary confinement for part of that time.



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Ecuador turns WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over to UK police after six years of asylum

Ecuador turns WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over to UK police after six years of asylumLondon police on Thursday arrested Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on behalf of US authorities after Ecuador announced that it would be withdrawing his asylum. Assange spent more than six years inside Ecuador's embassy in London in order to avoid police.Ecuador president Lenin Moreno announced on Twitter that the country would no longer assist Assange:https://twitter.com/Lenin/status/1116271659512684544"Today, I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially, the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable," Moreno stated. "Ecuador sovereignly has decided to terminate the diplomatic asylum granted to Mr. Assange in 2012."Moreno went on to explain in detail what led to the decision to turn Assange over to the authorities:> The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit on the behavior of Mr. Assange: He installed electronic and distortion equipment not allowed. He blocked the security cameras of the Ecuadorian Mission in London. He has confronted and mistreated guards. He had accessed the security files of our Embassy without permission. He claimed to be isolated and rejected the internet connection offered by the embassy, and yet he had a mobile phone with which he communicated with the outside world.Moreno also explained that a recent WikiLeaks action, the Vatican documents leak from January, was what convinced Ecuador that Assange was still involved with WikiLeaks, and thus interfering in internal affairs of other nations. A video showing the moment Assange was escorted out of the embassy, in handcuffs, was posted on Twitter:https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1116283158943666176The US government, meanwhile, has charged Assange with conspiracy to hack a government computer, The New York Times reports, with the criminal complaint having been unsealed in the hours following his arrest. Assange will have the right to contest the extradition request in British courts.



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Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify in inquiry into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify in inquiry into Julian Assange and WikiLeaksChelsea Manning, who was jailed in 2013 for leaking US military secrets to WikiLeaks, was arrested again on Friday for refusing to testify in a grand jury investigation targeting the anti-secrecy group. US District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to be held not as punishment but to force her testimony in the secret case, according to a spokesman for the US attorney in the Alexandria, Virginia federal court. "Chelsea Manning has been remanded into federal custody for her refusal to provide testimony" to a grand jury in Arlington, Virginia, said a statement from her support group The Sparrow Project. They cited the judge in the case, Claude Hilton, as saying Manning would be held indefinitely "until she purges or the end of the life of the grand jury." Manning, 31, was held in contempt of court after refusing earlier this week to testify for an investigation into actions by WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange in 2010, according to her own description. Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been placed in jail to coerce her to testify against Julian Assange. Whistleblowers are now being forced to testify against journalists. A new angle in the attack on media freedom. More: t.co/jFzuiRUaYo Fund: t.co/X51GmHBUQH— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 8, 2019 Manning, a transgender woman then known as Bradley Manning, was a military intelligence analyst at the time who delivered more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into WikiLeaks's hands. She became a hero to anti-war and anti-secrecy activists and her actions helped make WikiLeaks a force in the global anti-secrecy movement. In 2013, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.  She was released in 2017, after President Barack Obama commuted the final 28 years of her 35-year sentence.  Anticipating the contempt charge, Manning said Thursday she had asserted her constitutional rights to refuse to answer questions the day before even as she was offered immunity for her testimony. She objected to the secret nature of grand juries, which can interview witnesses without their attorneys present. "All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 – answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013," she said. "In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available," she said. "My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal." tomorrow i’m facing a sealed contempt hearing for refusing to testify at a secret grand jury over my 2010 disclosures statement: pic.twitter.com/M1uhssUzXh— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) March 7, 2019 Manning spent more than three years in prison in 2013-2017, during which she underwent gender transition therapy, spent time in solitary confinement and attempted suicide twice. Last year she ran for the Democratic Party's nomination to the US Senate in Maryland but failed to unseat the incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin. The US government has been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks for years and has stepped up its efforts against the Britain-based group after it served as an outlet for internal Democratic communications that Washington alleges were stolen by hackers from Russia's GRU intelligence agency during the 2016 US election. Fearing arrest and extradition to the United States, Assange has been sheltering in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012. He says WikiLeaks's publishing of US secrets is no different than what the mass media does and he should enjoy the same protections as journalists.



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Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro joins 2020 campaign

Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro joins 2020 campaignSAN ANTONIO (AP) — Assailing President Donald Trump for "a crisis of leadership," former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro joined the 2020 presidential race Saturday as the rush of Democrats making early moves to challenge the incumbent accelerates.



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