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How the US gov’t hopes to get Assange


 

Prosecuting Julian Assange under the outdated World War I-era  Espionage Act would be difficult. To prosecute him or WikiLeaks for receiving and disseminating copies leaked documents runs into First Amendment protections for press freedom. The alternative is to try to prove that he conspired with the original source to leak the information in the first place. Then the government doesn’t have to explain why they are prosecuting Assange and not other media outlets who published the same information.

And the NYT reports that there may be evidence that Assange worked with the alleged leaker, Private Bradley Manning, to get the information out:

“Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.

Adrian Lamo, an ex-hacker in whom Private Manning confided and who eventually turned him in, said Private Manning detailed those interactions in instant-message conversations with him.

He said the special server’s purpose was to allow Private Manning’s submissions to “be bumped to the top of the queue for review.” By Mr. Lamo’s account, Private Manning bragged about this “as evidence of his status as the high-profile source for WikiLeaks.”

Wired magazine has published excerpts from logs of online chats between Mr. Lamo and Private Manning. But the sections in which Private Manning is said to detail contacts with Mr. Assange are not among them. Mr. Lamo described them from memory in an interview with The Times, but he said he could not provide the full chat transcript because the F.B.I had taken his hard drive, on which it was saved.”

Of course, a judge could decide that such online chats are inadmissible hearsay evidence.


 
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How the US gov’t hopes to get Assange

  1. Poor widdle US govt. They just don't get it.

    The documents are out…whether Assange is free, in jail, or dead.

    • Yes you're right, their secrets are blown. But if the US can punish Assange, then it might dissuade others from getting into the "publishing secret documents" game.

    • Punishment before charges, much less a conviction.

    • I read that one too, and was deeply disturbed.

    • And the military wonders why it's having difficulty meeting recruiting numbers.

  2. <sarcasm> He's an enemy combatant isn't he? The law need not apply. </sarcasm>

  3. The wiki leaks are not the result of some great victory for freedom of information or an example of how nothing can remain secret in the digital age. The information in question was obtained illegally. The dissemination is made easier in the age of the Internet, but it does not change the fact that the information was stolen.

    It will likely be difficult for the U.S government to legitimately get Assange on some kind of criminal charge, but as for Private Manning (if he is indeed the source of the leaks), he should be tried for treason and executed if convicted. That would be a reasonable deterrent for anyone else in the military and intelligence communities thinking about leaking sensitive or classified government information.

    • I think you lost any reasonable person at the treason part, and if not two words later at "execution".

      • I don't quite see how. Stealing your government's secrets and conspiring to disclose them, especially when one is a member of one's nation's military is quite plainly treasonous. It is a betrayal of the oath taken to serve and defend the nation. Execution is a historically justified punishment for treason and is still the ultimate legal punishment allowable for the crime in the United States.

        • Then what are we to make of an honoured institution of a noble nation that chooses
          to call a 22 yr. old emotionally labile kid an "intelligence analyst" , stick him in a container
          crate in the middle of Iraqi waste land and hope he's stupid enough to not be amazed by
          what he's allowed to see ? There was a time when his outlet would be a Senator named
          Church. Different times.

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