REPORT: Feds Mull Charges Against Julian Assange

The New York Times reports:

The Justice Department is weighing anew whether to charge Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, for his role in the disclosure of highly classified information that the United States government claims has harmed national security and diplomatic relations, a law enforcement official said.

The debate among prosecutors, which the official described as vigorous, is being fueled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said at a news conference Thursday that arresting Mr. Assange was a priority for the Justice Department.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the details of the discussions remain secret, said senior Justice Department officials had been pressuring prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia to outline an array of possible charges.

But the official said prosecutors were skeptical that they could pursue the most serious charges, of espionage, with regard to the documents Mr. Assange disclosed years ago with the help of an Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. Ms. Manning was convicted and sent to prison, but President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January.

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  • dcurlee

    Ha…Julian helped the dictator and now the dictator is getting ready to try and nail him to the wall. Yet again Trump’s fears of what he could divulge

  • bambinoitaliano

    Ecuador might as well grant him a permanent resident status to live out in the embassy for the rest of his life.

    • Gay Fordham Prep Grad

      at this point it’s not clear to me what Ecuador gets out of this deal.

      • lymis

        Either Russian considerations, or Assange has something on highly placed Ecuadorians. Or both.

      • bambinoitaliano

        I’m sure they wonder the same after Obama left.

  • sigh. i’m so tired of low level spy games. let’s all just make up our minds, shall we? wikileaks is evil. wikileaks is good. julian is the devil, and jeebus.

    i mean, there’s a lot going on in all our lives. i read a lot of news. every day it seems like i’m being told something different about them. and frankly, they don’t seem that important, in the scheme of things. the only person in this mess i have any sympathy for is Chelsea.

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    • I, too, have a lot of sympathy for Chelsea, and pretty much no one else involved in this.

  • canoebum

    I’m ok with this creep going to Federal prison for a decade or so. Really. I won’t mind one bit.

  • lymis

    Mull faster.

  • Superman

    We should continue to believe strongly in whistleblower protections and free speech. Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden were not criminals. They were citizens who were shocked to discover what their government was actually doing under cover and who believed with all their hearts that they were informing the public as whistleblowers by delivering their evidence to the press they believed most likely to disseminate the truth with discretion. Wikileaks is admired for doing just that, not only for American whistleblowers, but around the world. Of course we understand the desire of our intelligence community to maintain secrets and protect the safety of operatives. But if, for example, they were operating a secret torture site, would’t you want someone to leak it to the press. No one, including our intelligence community, operates with impunity. Snowden thought he was a hero and perhaps a martyr by going to Wikileaks with the information that the NSA was recording every single phone call made and preserving every email. Wikileaks tried hard to dump limited numbers of docs on respected journalists who could redact the most classified info but still provide us, the public with information we needed to know. This is exactly what the framers of our constitution would have done. If Thomas Paine were alive today he would be writing pamphlets supporting the pardons of Manning, Snowden and Assange. We are on the cusp of war now. Loose lips sink ships. Intelligence and secrets are critical. But democracy does fail. Look at Venezuela. Look at Egypt. We must have constitutional protections for our citizens from our government. And trusting Jeff Sessions to guard your fundamental rights as a citizen is a bitter irony. He may have fired all his top prosecutors, but even the rank and file below them can’t stomach trumped up charges against Assange. History will remember what we do in these dangerous times.

    • “Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden were not criminals.”

      Yes, they were criminals. Chelsea Manning went out of her way to destroy a computer network, she may had put sources’s lives to State Department cables at risk. She downloaded and release the SIPRnet pretty much out of spite.

      Edward Snowden, asked 20 plus NSA employees for their passwords, so he allegedly can help to maintain the servers. Instead he used them to download something like 1.8 million files. Those 20 plus employees were fired, and most likely lost their security clearances. Snowden has constantly lied, about what information he possessed, what was the purpose of taking 1.8-1.9 million files, and the reasons to go public on many things that have nothing to with US Civil Liberties. Also it is kind of ironic, that Snowden fled to kleptocracy (Russia)

      Snowden didn’t go to Wikileaks. Wikileaks was ordered to go to him. Wikileaks has been in the pocket with Russian Intelligence for a couple years now. Snowden went to select journalists to publish his findings, before heading to the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong to get a transit visa. He didn’t publish through Wikileaks.

      It is a lot better PR for a spy to proclaim they are a whistleblower, than to proclaim they are a spy working for another country. Snowden lives in a gated community outside of Moscow for SVR/FSB employees..

  • Mikey

    The ACLU is worrying for nothing. There is no way that Wikileaks can be considered a “news organization”.

  • TuuxKabin
    • Xiao Ai: The Social Gadfly

      I’ll get my chair so Clint has someone to chat with about this.

  • ChrisMorley

    AG Jeff Sessions, is bonkers for making a fuss about arresting Mr. Assange.
    1 He has no powers to arrest Assange since he is in the safe space of an embassy.
    2 That embassy is in the territory of an ally, Britain.
    3 The Swedes have an international arrest warrant for Assange, so that takes first priority.

    • Tawreos

      It is very easy to claim you want to do something when you know there is no possibility of it working. How many votes were there to repeal Obamacare when they knew it wouldn’t go through and how many now that they should be able to pass it easily?

    • Franciscan

      Also, Assange is an Australian citizen (not British, not U.S.). Though I’ve no doubt that the Conservative British government would be fine about handing him over to the U.S. if they could get past the little detail of Ecuador’s sovereignty.

  • Scribble Writer 🌹 ☭

    Can you imagine if a foreign government sought to arrest a US journalist for exposing their state secrets??

    This is bullshit. I mean fuck Assange, he’s a dick, but he doesn’t belong in jail over WikiLeaks. Rape perhaps, but not for publishing leaks.

    • Treant

      Something that confused me as well. If found guilty, the prisons in Sweden are practically country clubs compared to most other countries. He’d probably already be out.

      Instead, he’s incarcerated in the embassy which, by all reports, isn’t that happy he’s there.

      He just wants to avoid prosecution and payment.

      • Shy Guy

        He’s not worried about Swedish prisons, he’s worried about being sent on to Jeff Sessions in a box with a bow on it afterwards, where he’ll be sentenced to 3000 years without parole.

        • cmbennett01

          Unless there is evidence we don’t know about of his direct involvement in the theft of classified material it is very unlikely he would be convicted of anything in the US. He may very well have been directly involved but I doubt it could be proved.
          The reason he was talking about turning himself over to the US if Chelsea Manning was released is because he knows that. The charges he faces in Sweden on the other hand are likely to stick.

  • Prioritize

    I am far less troubled by Assange’s alleged acts of espionage than by Sessions’ conspiracy to commit treason, human rights violations, and civil rights violations.

  • Acronym Jim

    “But the official said prosecutors were skeptical that they could pursue the most serious charges, of espionage, with regard to the documents Mr. Assange disclosed years ago with the help of an Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning.”

    Well then, how about charging Assange with espionage for publishing Guccifer2 (i.e. Russian) hacked documents in a more comprehensive and searchable format?

  • Gil

    Shut down the media. Lock up ALL journalists and whistleblowers. Problem solved. Republicans, Democrats and despots alike can then sleep soundly at night believing their bloody, murderous, anti-democratic secrets won’t ever see the light of day.

  • Gerry Fisher

    That’s what I love about the ACLU, always staying calm, paying attention to detail, and looking at the big picture.

  • Alexander Stallwitz

    Assange has outlived his usefullness, Trump and the Republicans used Wikileaks to get Trumpy “elected” and now its time to rid themselves of him. I think Assange dumbly thought by helping Trump he could get out of his legal troubles. Assange is about to get a case of Trumpgrets bigly.

    • McSwagg

      All that and the Trumpistas are afraid that Wikileaks could be used against them on the next go round.

  • Piet

    Sessions wants to punish people for damaging national security and diplomatic relations? He should start at the White House, not go haring after Assange, who’s pretty safely ensconced, from what I can understand. Slap some justice on the Orange one before you run off on any fool’s errands.