The Justice Department has inadvertently revealed that it has prepared an indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In an unusual development, language about the charges against Assange was copied and pasted into an unrelated court filing that was recently unsealed. In the document, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer wrote, “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” The news broke on Thursday night just hours after The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department was planning to prosecute Assange. Assange has been living since 2012 in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has sought refuge and political asylum. It’s unclear what charges may be brought against Assange; the Justice Department has previously considered prosecuting him over his role in the release of hacked DNC emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as over the release of the so-called Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, shared by U.S. military whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The Assange case has been closely followed by advocates for press freedom. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch tweeted, “Deeply troubling if the Trump administration, which has shown little regard for media freedom, would charge Assange for receiving from a government official and publishing classified information—exactly what journalists do all the time.” We speak with human rights attorney Jennifer Robinson, who has been advising Julian Assange and WikiLeaks since 2010.
How you could lay charges on journalism, on the relaying of information you receive upon architecting one of the best and secure information communication platforms out there, is beyond any rationale. In fact, such draconian actions by misanthropic governments serve purposes better imagined than explained.
(Photo: CC-BY-NC Screenshot from the associated video clip. itheorist.com)