back to article Grand jury meets to decide fate of WikiLeaks founder

A federal grand jury in Virginia is meeting to decide whether to bring spying charges against Julian Assange, an attorney for the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder said over the weekend. “We have heard from Swedish authorities there has been a secretly empaneled grand jury in Alexandria (Virginia),” attorney Mark Stephens told Al- …

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  1. Ashton Black

    Not looking good.

    Stitched up like a kipper.

    1. mafoo
      Unhappy

      sweeds

      the Swedes do like their herring.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Not before time

        I have friends who have been to both Afghanistan and Iraq. I have family who may now be posted to Afghanistan.

        Hopefully Assange will get what is coming to him, and Wikileaks will think before releasing operational data again?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Please explain how anybody's safety has been compromised

          You can't, because it hasn't.

          Even Robert Gates has said it's nothing that wasn't already known.

          What's happened is that the USA is embarrassed and thinks that squealing "national security!" and "lives in danger!" will somehow hide their discomfort and deflect attention from their actions. I personally hope that they don't get away with it.

          Land of the free my arse.

        2. Chewy

          I'm hugely confused

          If the jihadists wanted to kill us before and they wanted to kill us after the cables were released by wikileaks what exactly has changed?

        3. No, I will not fix your computer
          Stop

          Re: Not before time

          I too have friends an family who are and have been in the forces abroad, I hope that they come back safe, I also hope that they don't find themselves in a position where they kill innocent people, unarmed reporters, throw dogs off cliffs. I hope if they do, through mistakes or because of the psychological pressure they are under that they get support to allow them to re-engage into society and live their lives, they are victims too and will need support. Depending on who you believe, between 100,000 and 500,000 people have been killed in recent years, the people on the ground killing each other (in a somewhat one-sided war) are not responsible.

          Assange did not create the environment, he has been passed factual information from people who know who's responsibility this is, he is not risking anyones life, the reason why only a fraction has been released is because of the filtering that has taken place.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Big Brother

            Silly git...

            "Assange did not create the environment, he has been passed factual information from people who know who's responsibility this is, he is not risking anyones life, the reason why only a fraction has been released is because of the filtering that has taken place."

            No. Assnage didn't create the documents. They exist because intelligence comes from many different sources and sometimes each piece of intelligence by itself isn't dangerous. Its when they combine the data, real intelligence occurs. Sort of like finding pieces about you in public information on the web and then putting them together to find information you would like to keep private.

            The danger occurs in that the leak causes embarrassments, and future trust issues so that gaining potential valuable intel may be impossible. The danger is that some information could only come from a handful of sources and now those sources disappear.

            The real danger is that idiots like Assnage and others believe that only the US does this. Here's a free clue. ALL COUNTRIES ENGAGE IN THIS INTEL GATHERING.

            The damage has been done. The release did nothing but create FUD.

            Assnage left his source hanging and now he's going to feel the full weight of US law.

            This may piss people off, but the facts are the facts and Assnage broke the law. He knew what he was doing and willfully committed a crime which has serious consequences.

            Look on the bright side. If this happened to the KGB, Assnage would be dead by now.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Silly Git .....

              and much of the data realeased wasn't just US intelligence, but intelligence they had collected about other NATO countries .......

            2. Anonymous Coward
              WTF?

              "This may piss people off,

              but the facts are the facts and Assnage broke the law. He knew what he was doing and willfully committed a crime which has serious consequences."

              Just for us non-lawyer types, which laws did he break again?

              And yes if it was under the KGB he'd be dead by now. But he's currently got the populace and government of the USA- not exactly the least likely people to kill him- rather riled up. He'll end up dead within hours if (or rather when) he gets extradited.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Black Helicopters

              @Silly

              >>when they combine the data, real intelligence occurs. Sort of like finding pieces about you in public information on the web and then putting them together to find information you would like to keep private.

              Yes, perhaps the government should filter all news, perhaps changing anything they don't like and send it to room 101 - You do know you're advocating 1984 type controls?

              >>This may piss people off, but the facts are the facts and Assnage broke the law. He knew what he was doing and willfully committed a crime which has serious consequences.

              OK, today I will almost certainly do things which are in contravention of laws in other countries, some of which have a death penalty attached, if I'm lucky I will be having sex outside of marrage, this will be in contravention of Sharia law of which, depending on the state the penalty can be death (see the case of Safiya Hussaini), how do we decide which laws from other countries are OK to follow and which are not? The US may want to apply 1917 sedation and more recent Patrot Acts to everybody, but in what way is this different to any other law from a foreign country being imposed?

              >>Look on the bright side. If this happened to the KGB, Assnage would be dead by now.

              Do you honestly think that he would be alive if he wasn't so high profile and had already put out encrypted copies that have the key released if he ends up dead? Assnage knows exactly what the USA is capable of (because he read it in the documents that have been released and documents that he has not).

        4. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          "I have friends who have been to both Afghanistan and Iraq."

          Perhaps if free university tuition fees had been available to them, they could have made better life CHOICES...

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  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Kids and cranks often tell the truth.

    US Attorney General Eric Holder has said his agency has “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature".

    It is indeed criminal in nature, Mr. Holder.

    Well, if worst comes to worst Assange can still ask the judge about a few Israeli spies that have been caught basically in front of the Xerox and sent packing without so much as a shrug (and this includes Mr. Dough Feith, aka. "dumbest fucking guy on the planet"). And these were US citizens.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Welcome

      Better yet...

      ...ask why the New York Times isn't being taken to task despite partnering with wikileaks.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        not the point

        because publishing isnt what they are getting at, its obtaining - (since he probably gave the leaks to NYT)

        The guardian newspaper has published a few leaks independently from wikileaks though. This would be a better comparison.

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          1. david wilson

            @AC

            >>"As with everything the Americans just love a foreign scapegoat,"

            Many countries where that *wouldn't* be the case?

            >>"so there's absolutely no difference between it and the NYT other than the fact the NYT is a 3rd hand publisher, and WIkileaks is second hand."

            Did the NYT know anything about the situation before the information was taken?

            Did it (or anyone working for it) encourage any taking of information?

            Manning claims to have been communicating with Assange for months, and presumably they weren't just talking about the weather.

            I'd reckon that might be a difference that the US government could claim is significant.

            Would anyone know if there's anything like a standard US journalistic policy if someone comes to a newspaper offering to illegally obtain information for the newspaper?

            Is a newspaper legally allowed to encourage them?

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    2. david wilson

      @Destroy All Monsters

      >>"Well, if worst comes to worst Assange can still ask the judge about a few Israeli spies that have been caught ..."

      He can *ask*, but I can't see it would do any good - just because one person may have got away with something doesn't mean that a law ceases to be applicable to anyone else.

      It could also be that there are some things where the government minds less if some people know rather than others, or if fewer people know rather than more.

      Effectively, it's a government's call who to press charges against, the same way it's a citizen's call whether to press charges if they're burgled.

      It might not be /fair/, but it's not exactly unpredictable either.

  3. Tony Paulazzo
    Unhappy

    Can anybody say

    Kangaroo court

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Was that a pun?

      Since Assnage is Australian?

      Sorry but the US Government is going by the book, Charges based on a law written last Century almost 100 years ago?

      Assnage is definitely not the hero you paint him to be.

      1. Alpha Tony

        irrelevant

        "Charges based on a law written last Century almost 100 years ago"

        I don't care if it was tattooed on Benjamin Franklin's arse by George Washington - US law does not apply to non-US citizens acting outside of the US. END OF. Do you need me to repeat that as that basic principle of international law always seems to get lost in translation to US English?

        I don't think Assange is a hero - I don't have particularly strong feelings on his character one way or the other. This has become about something much more important - The US belief that they can impose their laws and their will on the rest of the world whenever they want and I do have particularly strong feelings about that:

        'America? Fuck no.'

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge
          Stop

          grey area

          since the cables are only available from US embassies or inside the US they will argue that he got the cables from US soil hence can use the law quite happily. Unless he discloses how he got the cables thus proving otherwise.

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            1. david wilson

              @AC

              >>"And whilst various embassies have these, so do field offices that are based in countries like Iraq but are still Iraqi sovereign territory and NOT US sovereign territory, just like the one Bradley Manning most likely pulled the data from."

              Might they not try and argue that if the data was taken for illicit purposes from a database that was in the USA, that that was an offence on US soil even if the person copying the data wasn't on US soil at the time, the same way they'd argue that breaking into a US based computer was a US offence even if done from overseas?

              Whether they'd be justified in doing that or not, it seems like it'd be a fairly obvious approach to take, not a million miles from things they've tried already.

              >>"There's no grey area here unless you have a vested interest in trying to create one and want to believe he's guilty even though he's not."

              Seems like there are numerous grey areas - like whether, if he actually was in contact with Manning before the information was taken, that has any bearing on whether he could claim protection as a journalist, as well as doubt about exactly in which place[s] any illegal removal of information could be argued to have taken place.

              Even someone who *thinks* Assange isn't guilty of anything should at least acknowledge that there are at least potentially areas of legal uncertainty even if they don't think there are any areas of moral uncertainty.

              To do otherwise would seem to be wanting to believe he's innocent whether he is or not, and to just be as irrational as accusing anyone else of pre-judging things the other way.

              Personally, when I see people denying even the possibility of grey areas, I tend to assume that that means there probably are some that they'd consider at least potentially unfavourable to what they want to believe.

              It's exactly the same whether someone wants to believe Assange is absolutely innocent and should be given the Nobel Prize, or someone else wants to believe he's absolutely guilty and deserves summary justice.

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                1. david wilson

                  @AC 16:37

                  >>"They can try that argument, but it wont work, because Assange didn't extract it from a US computer."

                  >>"Bradley Manning or whoever did, it was they that extracted it off US soil, Assange was merely passed it on neutral soil."

                  Maybe we'll have to wait and see what tack the US tries to take.

                  There seem to be [at least] two issues.

                  Firstly, where the crime of the taking of information can be claimed to have happened, and secondly, what part in that Assange might have played.

                  I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them accusing Assange of conspiring before the fact to the taking of the information.

                  In that case, if they could successfully claim that a crime took place on US soil, they could argue that he knew in advance there was going to be a crime on US soil, and argue that he encouraged the commission of that crime.

                  It doesn't matter a damn whether any individual (including me) might see that as stretching a point at best, or maybe entirely bogus, what actually matters in the end is the legal case they decide to put forward (if any), and whether they could use such a case to get an extradition.

                2. david wilson

                  @AC 16:37

                  >>"Personally, when I see people continuing to suggest there are grey areas where there aren't, I tend to assume that person is either an idiot, or has an agenda. I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it's the latter, but I'm not sure."

                  So you don't think that it just might actually make even the slightest *legal* difference if Assange had prior knowledge of what was going to happen, or even if he encouraged it?

                  Or that it might make the slightest legal difference where a crime was actually argued to have happened?

                  We are actually talking about law, not about what your opinion or my opinion might be of what the law should be, or how moral any one of us might judge Assange's actions to be.

                  As far as I can see, the law is often full of grey areas.

                  Though you seem pretty confident in your knowledge of US and international law, and if you're right, and in this case there's no shadow of an legally arguable case, then that will presumably become apparent if/when legal arguments start.

        2. Rolf Howarth

          Extraterritorial laws

          "US law does not apply to non-US citizens acting outside of the US. END OF. Do you need me to repeat that as that basic principle of international law always seems to get lost in translation to US English?"

          There definitely are exceptions, eg. murdering US citizens abroad or blowing up a US embassy is an offence under US law, whether or not the country you're in has an effective judicial system. Even in the UK, we have laws that apply to non-UK citizens acting outside the UK, even if no UK interests are affected. (Don't believe me? Hint: Bosnia).

          1. Steven 33
            Badgers

            Actually....

            " murdering US citizens abroad " - surely this is illegal wherever "abroad" is, and would be tried as such.

            " blowing up a US embassy " - As above ^^

            I find your conclusions based on this weak defence flawed... if I went to the USA (where I am not from), and killed my missus, and was found out, I surely would be sentenced there, no? Likewise if I went to Germany, or the UK, or god forbid, France...

            The embassy thing is a bit more complicated, but not much...

            1. david wilson

              Extraterritoriality

              I *guess* that if they were going to be arguing that he's effectively guilty of collusion or conspiracy in the illegal act of obtaining the information, claiming that he actually encouraged removal of the information (and so maybe bypassing protection for journalists), they'd also be claiming that wherever he was at the time things happened, he was conspiring in a criminal act which was going to take place on US territory.

              I'm not sure what the relevant precedents for that might be when it comes to extradition, but they might have at least the makings of some kind of case.

            2. Rolf Howarth
              FAIL

              Re: Actually....

              "murdering US citizens abroad - surely this is illegal wherever "abroad" is, and would be tried as such"

              Tried by who exactly? And you say "surely"... what if it's not illegal in that country, or if the particular country where the murder occurred refuses to act? Think Libya, Iran, Afghanistan under the Taliban, or whatever. Or what if the murder occurs in international waters, eg. Palestinian terrorists hijacking a yacht with American tourists and murdering the captain? (That was years ago, I can't remember the details, and might even have been in Italian waters but the Italians let them go as part of a hostage deal, then the Americans caught the hijackers while they were sailing back across the Mediterranean and tried them in the USA... something like that.)

              And what's with the down vote? I didn't say I agreed with extraterritoriality, just pointed out that there ARE laws that apply to other country's citizens committing acts in other countries. In the UK for example we have laws about war crimes and crimes against humanity that would apply wherever in the world the offence took place. Are you saying I'm not correct, or simply that you don't like the conclusion?

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              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @Rolf

                >>"Are you saying I'm not correct, or simply that you don't like the conclusion?"

                I'd vote for option 2

                1. Rolf Howarth
                  FAIL

                  So I'm wrong?

                  Google "universal jurisdiction" or "Pinochet trial", or look somewhere like Amnesty International's web site (they're a big proponent of prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity, wherever in the world they occur, and whoever commits them).

                  http://www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice/issues/universal-jurisdiction

                  Or look up 18 U.S.C. 32(b), which makes the following an offence:

                  - violence aboard a foreign civil aircraft (likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft) while in flight;

                  - destruction of or incapacitating or endangering damage to foreign civil aircraft;

                  - placing a bomb aboard a foreign civil aircraft; or

                  - attempting or conspiring to do so

                  as long as one of the following applies:

                  - a United States national was on board;

                  - the offender was a United States national; or

                  - the offender is afterwards found in the United States

                  You seem to be making it out like jurisdiction has to be exclusive. It doesn't! There are plenty of international crimes where lots of countries could potentially prosecute you, so who actually gets to do so just boils down to who gets hold of you first.

                  Remember, I'm not saying extraterritorial jurisdiction is a good thing, just pointing out that certain extraterritorial laws do already exist around the world. If you don't like them, don't complain to me about them. I didn't make them.

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                    1. Rolf Howarth
                      WTF?

                      I give up

                      You're being wilfully obstruse. I never once mentioned extradition. The original claim that I was refuting is "there are no situations where a country can legally prosecute someone who isn't a citizen of that country for a crime committed outside that country". Universal jurisdiction and the Pinochet trial is a clear counterexample to that. He wasn't a UK citizen, the crime didn't occur in the UK, but he was still prosecuted here. Most human rights and civil liberties campaigners think that's a Good Thing.

                      "Yeah, which is why the US handled the Lockerby trial right?" I guess you didn't read the bit where I said multiple jurisdictions could apply, and different interested parties need to fight over who gets to prosecute an offender?? If the Americans had managed to get hold of him, you can be absolutely certain they would have tried him on US soil, yes.

                      The trial took place in The Netherlands because of complex diplomatic wranglings to persuade Libya to extradite the suspects, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have taken place elsewhere (eg. Germany, where the bomb was placed on the plane) if they'd been arrested in another country. The various interested parties agreed that among the different jurisdictions all of which had a claim on trying the suspects, on balance it made sense to hold it in Scotland because that's where the forensic evidence was. It's Lockerbie by the way, not Lockerby.

                      In none of what I was talking about did I refer to Assange. Of course universal jurisdiction doesn't apply to him. Where did I say it did? On the other hand, equally clear is that if Assange ever found himself on US soil, he most certainly would be arrested and prosecuted there for breaking US law. That's not the same as saying he would (or should) be extradited to the USA from the UK or Sweden though. For that what he did would have to be an offence under UK or Swedish law as well as under US law, which it almost certainly isn't.

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                2. Ian Michael Gumby
                  WTF?

                  @Rolf and @AC...

                  Sigh.

                  The thumbs down vote is because they don't agree with what you're saying because they don't want to hear any opinion but ones that agree with them. Sorry but there is a psychological tendency to vote based on emotion and not the facts.

                  With respect to international law... killing someone in a foreign country falls under the jurisdiction of that country. However there are exceptions to that. Bombing an embassy is an attack on American soil therefore America has the right to go after the perpetrators.

                  With respect to Assnage. He coerced an American to break law(s) and take possession of classified documents. Espionage charges are definitely a possibility. (At time of writing this, I haven't heard what the GJ has to say.) So the US can extradite him to face charges because he committed a crime against the US, which took place on 'US Soil'. Assnage is facing real charges and its no joke. He wanted to play BMOC (Big man on campus) and he fscked around with the wrong people.

                  He's no saint and he left his source hanging in the wind. That's friendship for you.

          2. MinionZero
            Big Brother

            @Rolf Howarth "Extraterritorial laws"

            @"There definitely are exceptions, eg. murdering US citizens abroad" etc.... "is an offence under US law"

            No, murdering *anyone* abroad is a murder in that country, so a matter for the legal system in that country.

            Embassies however are less clear. Whilst they do have some legal privileges and protection, they are still under the territorial laws of the host country.

            Put simply even from a moral perspective, the US doesn't have the right to impose its laws on the rest of the world. (If it did, we all would need to have the power to vote in each president (of the world), because otherwise they would rule us without representation. That’s a dictatorship. Even worse, it would be their global dictatorship!

            So no matter what the US government wants the world to do, they are not our keepers. The US represents only 4.5% of the world's population, so their leaders need to learn they don't run the world!

        3. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Alpha Tony

          US laws apply to anyone who breaks them. Regardless of their citizenship. By your reasoning, I could go to Britain break their laws and get away with it because I'm an American.

          Faulty logic aside, the grand jury will determine if the US has presented enough evidence of Assnage breaking the law.

          I would suggest you learn more about international law before condemning the US Govt.

      2. SpyWhoShaggedYou
        WTF?

        You mean the Espionage Act of 1917?

        The law that put E.E. Cummings in prison for expressing nothing more than insufficient hatred toward Germans? The law that imprisoned pacifists for handing out anti-draft pamphlets? That law?

        The law that was passed during a spasm of war-time, nationalist hysteria to quiet fears that the Kaiser had infiltrated the "Home Front" but in application infringed free speech? The law that caused newspapers to declare the "End of Liberty?" The law which is considered by historians and constitutional scholars to be an artifact of American history that only hung around because of the Red Scare? That law?

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Shagging Spy...

          The law is on the books and therefore appropriate. How it is used is going to be based on the circumstances of the time.

          If you haven't figured it out. We're at war with a group of people who will kill you because you don't walk, talk, think or act like them.

          So I'd say that Assnage is on thin ice and has pretty much alienated most governments. Just the way he wants it ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Assange to be voted time man of the year?

    A bit of a pity, that. Not because he hasn't managed to put himself right in everybody's faces for quite the while. More because it deprives us of seeing "Lady Gaga" voted man... of the year.

    Hm? Why yes, it IS cold out. How thoughtful of you, thank you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Funny you should say that.

      'Assange to be voted time man of the year?... ....More because it deprives us of seeing "Lady Gaga" voted man... of the year.'

      I heard a rumour, (or was it a leak?), that the CD with the cables/warlogs etc. previously had "Lady Gaga" tunes on it, so you never know. What I can say with certainty, however, is that I have never seen either of them in the same room together.

  5. David Moore
    WTF?

    The Espionage Act?!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage_Act_of_1917#Enforcement

    Oh dear.

    What's happened to America? More and more it's looking like Nazi Germany in the 30's.

  6. Rolf Howarth
    Grenade

    Conspiracy?

    One could easily imagine that the sexual assault charges, conveniently coming when they do, are straight out of a Hollywood conspiracy film. On the other, given what one knows about Assange's character (an arrogant, self-righteous prig who thinks he's above the law and God's gift to mankind), who knows how he might treat a woman who dares to turn him down?

    1. Goat Jam
      Headmaster

      What the?

      "who knows how he might treat a woman who dares to turn him down?"

      Which woman turned him down? Are you referring to the "rape" charges.

      I think you might be well advised to read this link (and yes, it is a Daily Fail article, but even they can manage to do real journalism ocassionally)

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1336291/Wikileaks-Julian-Assanges-2-night-stands-spark-worldwide-hunt.html

      There is no "turning him down" involved.

      Sure, Assange was stupid and quite selfish in his actions but this case is more about the jealousy of one of the women involved.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        FAIL

        @Goat Jam

        Ok, would you care to explain the difference between:

        "That Assange. He's a good bloke, fighter for truth and all. Must be a put up job, girl's obviously lying, we should brush it under the carpet. Tell you what, give her a grilling and point out she'll be made to look a tart in court. She'll drop the charges."

        And:

        "That Harrington-Smythe chap. He's a good bloke, Eton and Oxford and a rugger blue too . Must be a put up job.......etc."

        As it escapes me. Is Wikileaks the new "old school tie"?

        1. david wilson

          @TeeCee

          >>"Ok, would you care to explain the difference between:..."

          The difference is that for the subset of Wikileaks supporters who go for the black/white worldview rather than even tying to see other points of view, Assange is currently in their 'likes' group, whereas the old Etonian probably isn't.

          The tricky thing is that though I'm sure there are many Wikileaks supporters who really don't know what happened in Sweden, who aren't entirely prejudging the case, they're less likely to keep mentioning that than the people who absolutely *know* what happened, whether they've decided it's a CIA plot or a lover scorned or a crusading feminist.

          The *potential convenience* of the charges isn't going to be lost on anyone, even people at the other extreme who want to conclude for their own reasons that he's definitely guilty.

          However, it does seem that some people assume that anyone not repeatedly shouting that it's a setup must somehow be less intelligent and have either missed the possibility that things aren't kosher, or be part of the Conspiracy.

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