back to article Julian Assange will NOT be extradited to the US over WikiLeaks hacking and spy charges, rules British judge

Accused hacker and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the US to stand trial, Westminster Magistrates' Court has ruled. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser told Assange this morning that there was no legal obstacle to his being sent to the US, where he faces multiple criminal charges under America's …

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      1. Flywheel Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Suicide

        I'd rather have the US after me than the Saudis - Jamal Khashoggi wasn't so lucky. It's dangerous work being a journalist.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Suicide

          and sadly the 100% got away with it. Governments, vigilantes, hackers, rebels, after a few months, the oil and money wash over it like volcanic ash on Pompeii.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Suicide

        What would your mental state be after 10 years on the run, knowing the yanks are after you?

        Probably wishing I'd just owned up in the first place, served my time, and been a free man for 5+ years.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Suicide

          "

          ... and been a free man for 5+ years.

          "

          Not in an American court. More likely life in prison - likely to be a short life as well after a conviction that he effectively attacked America.

        2. Greybearded old scrote

          Re: Suicide

          The maximum sentence is 175 years. Yes, two entire lifetimes.

          The US gov clami' that he would 'most likely' get 4-6 years. I'm once again reminded of the wisdom of M’andee-rice Davis.

          1. Joe Gurman

            Re: Suicide

            I wouldn't count on it being a case of MRDA. Most IT security crimes in the US are underpunished, and even if he were found guilty in a US court, his self-imposed imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy could probably be used in a request for time off the sentence.

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Suicide

              "his self-imposed imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy could probably be used in a request for time off the sentence."

              Amazingly, time spent being on the run from an unrelated crime before an extradition request has been submitted would not be taken into consideration.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Suicide

        "What would your mental state be after 10 years on the run, knowing the yanks are after you?"

        Self inflicted ? And as a convicted bail jumper does Assange even qualify for a UK visa/residency under the new Australian points based system?

      4. Joe Gurman

        Re: Suicide

        His mental state is exactly what it's been all along: sociopathic.

        Cannot understand the widespread sympathy for Assange, who has clearly never given a damn about anyone but himself.

        The Judge's decision is almost certainly correct, but the law is an ass.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Suicide

          Agreed, Assange cares about nothing but himself. If he were truly a journalist as he claims no one would ever have heard of Chelsea Manning or know how he got the information in the first place.

          This won't end anytime soon either. If the next appeal fails he'll then ask for asylum in the UK, because wherever we deport him to (I don't know if the law is country of origin I.e. Sweden or "home" country I.e. Australia) will immediately be asked to extradite him as well.

          1. onemark03 Bronze badge

            Re: Suicide

            If Assange were extradited to Australia, it wouldn't surprise me if that country handed him over to the US.

            Admittedly, it's unlikely that he would be extradited to Australia but you know what I mean.

        2. tfewster Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Suicide

          Without prejudice to the man or the accusations: As it's Assanges mental state that seems to be the only remaining barrier to deportation - How about a virtual extradition and trial under COVID lockdown conditions?

          - Deport him to the US Embassy in London, on the condition they don't try to take him out of the country.

          - Allow him to face his accusers via video link, as many trials are performed nowadays.

          - For a fee, Britain can provide trained staff to monitor his health during the trial.

          - IF found guilty then, for a fee, Britain can provide suitable accommodation at HMP Belmarsh.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Suicide

      And a good way to end up being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expectations

    Doesn't this set up an expectation that if Assange were to lose the appeal and then end up being jailed that he would be expected to commit suicide?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Expectations

      Having effectively jailed himself for several years this seems unlikely.

      AFAIK there were no moves to prosecute him until the outgoing POTUS arrived in office. Perhaps there will be another change in attitude.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Expectations

        No, just people in 2010 calling for him to be assassinated. Oh, ok, there were also congressmen demanding his prosecution too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the appeal fails

    He'll basically be a prisoner here. If he goes to another jurisdiction then all bets are off and he'll probably find himself on a flight to the USA before he knows it.

    They (the USA) won't stop until he is locked up for several 100 year sentences in a Federal Supermax.

    But... perhaps things will change when the current Tweeter/Traitor in Charger in DC is in prison.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: If the appeal fails

      Federal Supermax? I'm doubting his crime would even be considered for a Federal Supermax, He'll end up with the Celebs doing time for cheating their kids into Uni...

      1. Irony Deficient

        Re: Federal Supermax?

        I'm doubting his crime would even be considered for a Federal Supermax

        Robert Hanssen is still in a federal Supermax, serving 15 consecutive life sentences for 15 violations of the Espionage Act: 14 counts of espionage * and one count of conspiracy to commit espionage †. All but one of the allegations for which Assange’s extradition is sought are also violations of the Espionage Act ‡. If extradited and found guilty on all counts (including the non-espionage alleged conspiracy to commit computer intrusions), the maximum total consecutive sentence would be 175 years.

        * — 18 U.S.C. § 794(a)

        † — 18 U.S.C. § 794(c)

        ‡ — viz in the second superseding indictment, one count of 18 U.S.C. § 793(g); two counts of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(b) and 2; four counts of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(c) and 2; three counts of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(d) and 2; three counts of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e) and 2; three counts of 18 U.S.C. § 793(e).

  3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    If the appeal fails I strongly suspect that something Eichmann-y will happen to him

    1. onemark03 Bronze badge

      If the appeal fails I strongly suspect that something Eichmann-y will happen to him

      Agreed: quite possible.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get to live-it-up in South America* for a couple of decades?

      *Probably not Ecuador.

  4. Electronics'R'Us
    Headmaster

    This confused me

    Judge Baraitser also dismissed Assange's legal arguments that publishing stolen US government documents on WikiLeaks was not a crime in the UK, ruling that had he been charged in the UK, he would have been guilty of offences under the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989.

    Having been subject to the official secrets act for many of my years (I have signed the form that I understand my responsibilities etc. etc. more times than I care to recall), I could understand a successful prosecution for publishing UK secrets in the UK, but not US secrets (unless they are shared NATO secrets, but I don't recall any of that being the case).

    I would appreciate if someone might enlighten me here.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: This confused me

      I could understand a successful prosecution for publishing UK secrets in the UK, but not US secrets (unless they are shared NATO secrets, but I don't recall any of that being the case).

      I think that may be the case, ie stuff that was published would be covered by the UK OSA. Alternatively, I think part of the extradition test is to consider if the alleged crime is one that would also be considered a crime, if committed in the UK.

      But the saga rumbles on. Given all the Clinton stuff Assange published, not convinced the Democrats would be keen on dropping charges. Then again, there may be some potential horse trading given Assange has hinted in the past that he's got more damaging stuff about the Dems.

      It'll be interesting to see what happens next with the bail hearing, which will no doubt play on the IT angle and risk that the agent becomes a self-terminating process. Kinda tricky given he's absconded once before, and I think it must be tempting to grant bail & not look too hard if his supporters whisk him out of the country. Oops, sorry America..

      1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: This confused me

        Attempting to blackmail the US govt is NOT a bright idea, makes it more likely they find a hole to bury you in than less....

        I can see him being declared "persona non grata" in the UK and deported back to Australia, who will likely happily stick on a plane to the USA (thats if he's not put on the flight that goes via the USA)

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: This confused me

          There is only one way of blackmail possible with any government: "Leave me alone or it gets published" and convincing that government it is on a dead man switch.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This confused me

      The full judgement walks through this in some detail - page 33 onwards. What's less well known is that there's a whole "other" side to the OSA dealing with people what are not servants of her majesty attempting to gain documents through nefarious means, and that side applies to "national security documents which might be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy" whether or not they are explicitly marked and indeed whether or not they are specifically British.

      However it's also important to stress the purpose of looking at British law isn't to establish criminality - neither Assange nor Manning are British and none of the offences happened in the UK - but to meet a test of "dual criminality". This essentially transposes the actors and offences to British law and tests whether we also have the same crime on the books, to stop the US unilaterally criminalising offences for extradition purposes. Therefore the whole point of the comparison is to pretend, for the moment, that the actions were happening in the UK and with UK secrets, to allow us to compare the consequences of US and UK law to make sure the request is fair.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This confused me

      The leaks included some UK originating data due to joint operations from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe most of the British data was about civilian casualties and torture allegations if I remember correctly.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This confused me

      Having been subject to the official secrets act for many of my years (I have signed the form that I understand my responsibilities etc. etc.

      Doesn't matter if you signed the form or not, you're still subject to the provisions of the Act.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This confused me

        >Doesn't matter if you signed the form or not, you're still subject to the provisions of the Act.

        This is mostly true. The act as most people encounter it applies to three groups of people. The first are the crown servants - government employees and contractor staff who are directly working for the government. The second group are "government contractors", who are engaged indirectly (e.g. BAE staff building a tank). If you fall outside those first two groups the bulk of the OSA does not apply to you. The third category is why you're made to sign the paper - and it is any person who is notified in writing that they are subject to the terms of the act. Your signature is your acknowledgement that you have been notified so that even if you're not a crown servant or a contractor you are still subject to the act in the same way.

        The bits of the OSA in question for this Assange judgement are the "other" bits of the OSA that very much do apply to everyone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This confused me

          Your signature is your acknowledgement that you have been notified so that even if you're not a crown servant or a contractor you are still subject to the act in the same way.

          It's a law, it applies whether or not you sign a bit of paper saying you were notified. Being notified is largely a courtesy.

          "Do you have to sign the Official Secrets Act to be bound by it?

          It is not necessary for a person to have signed the Official Secrets Act in order to be bound by it. The 1989 Act states that a person can be “notified” that he or she is bound by it; and Government employees will usually be informed via their contract of employment if they must observe the Act."

          https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7422/

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Is this designed to confuse and terrorise?

        Doesn't matter if you signed the form or not, you're still subject to the provisions of the Act. ...... Anonymous Coward

        Oh, really? Now there's a novelty.

        1. tfewster Silver badge

          Re: Is this designed to confuse and terrorise?

          "Ignorance of the law is no excuse"

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Is this designed to confuse and terrorise?

            "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" ........ tfewster

            Quite so, .... however, how about ignorance of a fact or a fiction being a secret, tfewster? Is there a law designed to allow one to be prosecuted or persecuted for sharing one of those which practically hardly anyone knows and which might be, or might later be classified COSMIC Top Secret?

            Any sort of cogent guidance on that very particular and peculiar matter would be much appreciated, such is the extreme nature of certain emerging virtual fields of investigation and experimentation nowadays that might entertain and warrant such a premium primary security classification.

            I can't help thinking such classifications will only be recognised and needed to be heeded by those expert in the field[s] of concern/especial certain interest for no one else will realise that there be colossal dangers readily available.

      3. Electronics'R'Us
        Holmes

        Re: This confused me

        Indeed so; the key here is that people who are expected to need access to classified information see it all spelled out in gruesome detail and that was my point.

        I never saw a clause in the (admittedly short) forms where secret information from another state was necessarily a UK secret. There are occasions when that is true and I have seen such specific occasions but in general the OSA protects UK secrets.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: This confused me

          I never saw a clause in the (admittedly short) forms where secret information from another state was necessarily a UK secret. There are occasions when that is true and I have seen such specific occasions but in general the OSA protects UK secrets.

          I think it can be pretty common, ie some secrets are shared on the basis that we'll keep a foreigner's secrets secret as well. Which can be odd sometimes, eg training manuals might be openly published in the US, but still classified in the UK. Or situations where not everything is shared, so you might have a thing, but how that thing works is kept in a room only for say, US personnel because those secrets are US-NOFORN.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: This confused me

          "I never saw a clause in the (admittedly short) forms where secret information from another state was necessarily a UK secret."

          That doesn't matter. The question that the judge needs to answer in this case is rather simple. Basically, if all this happened in or to the UK, would it be a crime. In full detail, if a guy broke into Ministry of Defense systems or published UK classified documents, would the UK consider it a crime? In that hypothetical case, the OSA would indicate that it was a crime. Since the action would have been criminal had the UK been the victim, the crime is worthy of extradition on the basis of dual criminality. It's not the only test that needs to pass before extradition succeeds, but it virtually always has to pass in order to do so. Just because it did pass doesn't mean that the real person could be charged under the OSA; only the hypothetical person who acted against a UK victim needs to be culpable for the test to pass.

          The reason a hypothetical criminality test is used is that one country could pass a law making something illegal which another country hasn't done. Extradition in that scenario is usually refused. For example, consider the U.S.'s slavery legislation in the 1800s. The laws of the U.S. stated that it was legal to enslave people and it was illegal for a person who was enslaved to run away. Canada's laws said that it was not legal to enslave people. A person who managed to escape to Canada could therefore live in freedom because an extradition request would be denied; the act of leaving a position of slavery was not considered criminal in Canada, so they wouldn't be sent. Meanwhile, someone who escaped to Canada after murdering people would be extradited, because murder was considered a crime in both countries. Even if Canada couldn't charge the murderer because the victim was American, Canada would still consider the murder to have been a crime and sent the perpetrator to the location where the trial was allowed.

    5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: This confused me

      Judge Baraitser also dismissed Assange's legal arguments that publishing stolen US government documents on WikiLeaks was not a crime in the UK, ruling that had he been charged in the UK, he would have been guilty of offences under the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989. Had his conduct not been a crime in the UK, that would have been a powerful blow against extradition.

      Can anyone be charged with sharing secrets one might not know are shared secrets if one has not signed the Official Secrets Act 1911-1989? One presumes Julian Assange has never ever signed such an agreement.

      Or even charged with sharing stolen secrets one might know are stolen shared secrets if one has not signed any Official Secrets Act?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This confused me

        Yes.

        1. TimMaher Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: This confused me

          Very definitely.

          I remember, back in the distant past, obscured by the ever thickening mists of time, I was required to “sign a Section 10” to acknowledge my understanding of the OSA. My boss told me that it was completely irrelevant but it was in the rule book. If I didn’t sign then they would probably look at me sideways.

          So I signed.

          It was soon after that that I came up with the concept of being punished by a “departmental frown”, hence the icon.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: This confused me

        The OSA is a law. You have to obey it if you're in the UK. Sometimes, you may be asked to sign a document acknowledging that you know this, but if you've never signed it, it doesn't change. For the same reason, you don't have to sign a document saying "I acknowledge that there's a law saying I can't kill people when I want to". If you do kill people, it's illegal whether you've acknowledged it's illegal or not. It's how laws work.

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: This confused me

        "Or even charged with sharing stolen secrets one might know are stolen shared secrets if one has not signed any Official Secrets Act?"

        Short version: yes.

        Long version: being required to sign the OSA is just to make things easier to prosecute. Assuming actus rea (the act of a crime), for offences that are not strict liability, you have to also prove mens rea (that the crime was knowingly being committed). An easy way to establish mens rea is to have someone sign a piece of paper saying 'I know this is a crime if I do it', but another way would be if it were bloody obvious that the documents are secret.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: This confused me @DavCrav

          And whenever one shares a secret one doesn't know is a secret and/or, because of the information it releases and which may have been previously unknown, is suddenly classified a Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information?

          Ye Olde Worlde Rumsfeldism .......

          Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

          Is one then routinely rewarded and paid extremely handsomely to keep schtum and/or warned there be consequences if it be shared further with others in the dark without arrogant presumptuous instruction from those newly brought into the light and rendered an overwhelming advantage by such information/intelligence?

          With all that is going on around everything in such a field being programmed today for virtually real presentations in every tomorrow and for 0days, such clarification for some would be surely be more than just helpful and advisable.

    6. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: This confused me

      The judge's remarks are pointing out that publishing UK state secrets is indeed a crime in the UK and so its equivalent in the US is recognised by UK courts as a "valid" crime. As opposed to an extridition request for doing something that would be perfectly legal had the equivalent act been carried out in the UK.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This confused me

      >>>I would appreciate if someone might enlighten me here.

      The judge isn't talking about the specific info he leaked. Just saying that under similar circumstances it would be a crime in the UK under the Official Secrets Act.

    8. NonTechnical

      Re: This confused me

      From what I remember the dump included a number of UK classified documents shared with the US agencies. The Official Secrets act applies to everyone. Signing is just to remind you about it, but has no impact on whether it applies to you.

  5. botski@comcast.net

    Why is Trump doing this? He often said he loved Assange and Wikileaks. And Trump hates the DEEP STATE (CIA, Justice Dept, etc.) Plus, Jared Kushner and Roger Stone communicated with Assange a lot of times - BFFS, all of them. But then, why does Trump do anything except lie and cause sickness, death, and debt? And try to override an election. And many other bad things. I wish Trump could be extradited to anywhere but here. (And Bush too, while we're at it.)

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Maybe Trump will pardon him? Regardless of what you think of Trump, how would many of his haters feel if he were to pardon Assange?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Regardless of what you think of Trump, how would many of his haters feel if he were to pardon Assange?

        That he was every bit as stupid as we think he is?

        1. Joe Gurman

          Erm....

          Trump or Assange?

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