back to article WikiLeaks' Assange to be indicted for spying 'soon'

US prosecutors plan to file spying charges against Julian Assange soon in connection with the publishing of secret diplomatic memos on the WikiLeaks website. Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson told ABC News that charges would be brought “soon” under the US Espionage Act. The law makes it a felony to receive national defense …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Making law up to fit your goals... one of the distinguishing features of raging fascist/socialist regimes.

    But the saying which is applied to WikiLeaks is apposite...

    "We already knew all this, it's nothing new".

    Ashcroft, Yoo, Holder? Freisler is cackling in hell.

    OTOH, Assange is not even a US citizen. Oh hold on, we are ALL US citizen now! Or maybe anticitizen.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      you dont have to be a citizen of the country to break the law...

      You knew this was coming.

      The key is that Ass-n-age knew what he was doing, and did so regardless of the consequences. Its going to be interesting to see how the military tribunal is going to work out for the poor sod who bought in to Ass-n-age's BS.

      Oh and the law had been on the books long before Ass-n-age was even a gleam in his daddy's eye. (Actually long before his daddy was born for that matter.)

      Don't let the facts get in the way of your posts...

      The first amendment doesn't protect him either. What he did went well beyond the protections afforded by the law.

      1. Dagg Silver badge

        Yes you do

        Because if not I can guarantee that by merely existing you personally will have broken at least one law in some other country. Just look at some of the laws that exist under islam. Have you ever kissed a woman in public, if so you have broken a law!

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        @Ian Michael Gumby / you dont have to be a citizen of the country to break the law...

        "you dont have to be a citizen of the country to break the law..."

        Yes you do, or you at least have to be living in that country at the time. That's the point and scope of laws, they're only applicable to certain geographical areas. In case you haven't figured it out yet, "Team America - World Police" was a film lampooning the absurd attitude that some US citizens have that their Puritan laws apply outside the borders of the US.

        You *personally* are, almost without any doubt, a criminal according to a lot of laws around the world. In effect, would you agreee to being personally shipped to *every* country in the world - all of who's laws are, regardless of your personal preferences, legally as valid as where you happen to be born to live and tried according to local laws and customs?

        Thought not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not sure about the 'Socialist' bit!

      Fascist most certainly!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, that isn't one of the distinguishing features of socialism, you cretin.

      Been dining on Fox this week?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        RE: Socialist?

        Really? Someone oughta have told Stalin, Mao and Mugabe then!

        1. Corporate Mushroom

          RE: Socialist?

          Or indeed Hitler, given that he was leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Unless they added the 'National Socialist' part in 1920 just for a laugh?

          Facism and socialism are not mutally exclusive ideologies.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            you shouldn't need telling, but...

            If you actually knew any history, you would be aware that US and European corporate interests including coal owners funded the Nazis. On gaining power the Nazis were keen to make Germany safe for capitalism by arresting the actual socialists and suppressing independent trade unions. I don't think Krupp et al were exactly afraid of any 'socialism' that might come from a right-wing dictatorship.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Do you really think that ...

          ... purposefully misconstruing taxonomies is either witty or insightful?

          To play your game, murder is one of the defining characteristics of any rightwing government. Just ask Milosevic, Pinochet, Franco, Salazar, Khomeini, Suharto, Botha, etc, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        @John Dee

        Did you miss the 'fascist' bit, or did you ignore it so you could through out your boilerplate response? As for not being 'one of the distinguishing features of socialism', for the last 13 years we in the UK were governed by a supposed 'socialist' leaning party (I know that they weren't really, but Labour are supposed to be, at the very least, the party of the people) and they passed more legislation in that period that in the previous 20-odd years, much of it at the expense of our civil liberties. No I know you'll make the vacuous counter claim that NuLab weren't really 'socialist' etc., to which I'll pre-empt by saying grow up dickwad.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No I didn't miss it.

          OP: "Making a woofing noise is one of the distinguishing features of dogs/cats."

          JD: Only a cretin would say that about cats.

          You then go on to generalise from the particular, which is beneath everyone concerned, before arguing against your own thesis ("I know that they weren't really").

          Perhaps you'ld like to grow up and not add to the growing trend of treating socialism, communism, liberalism and fascism as equivalent and interchangeable.

    4. Otto von Humpenstumpf


      Freisler? Can I invoke Godwin on that one?

    5. Scorchio!!

      Re: Making law up to fit your goals...

      Receiving stolen goods that happen to be state secrets is plain stupid, especially if the receiver expects to get off scot free. It's more than receipt of stolen goods, however, and it is more than espionage; it is an act normally associated with a hostile power. If Assange wishes, as a private individual, to go to war with the US, then he can expect consequences. Moaning and whining childishly about his rights, that he is not a US citizen [...] is pointless; he has engaged in activity that the US government clearly, and within its rights, regards as hostile action.

      If Assange is lucky he'll get some holly with his porridge. Ditto his accomplices.

      Downloading classified information is not like pirating MP3s. So the mentality underlying these sorts of behaviours would appear soon to receive a large reality check.

  2. hplasm
    Big Brother

    Here we go.

    After the first opening moves of the pawns, the game enters stage two.

    Just as predicted.

  3. Turtle

    About time, too.

    Good. And if they can't imprison him, they can examine his finances and where the money comes from and where it goes, and what else he's doing that does not make the news.

    1. skicow


      Good idea -- lets find a way to punish someone, not because he has broken any laws, but because we don't like him. Sounds like a great way for a country to behave.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Umm, no..

        But if he's so keen on full disclosure I don't think there's anything wrong with disclosing his details either. Fair is far. We already know he has a poor brand of condoms, but I'd really like to know just how much money he is making with, well, supporting crime.

        There is a gulf of difference between whistleblowing and what Wikileaks does.

      2. Graham Wilson

        @skicow - Correct, empires begin to fail when they behave this way.

        Correct, empires begin to fail when they behave this way. The Roman Empire fell when long-established laws and customs were changed on a whim.

        The Jeffersonian logic upon which the US was built has deserted it.

        Let's only hope for everyone's sake the US comes to its senses soon.

      3. Scorchio!!

        Re: yes

        Did you expect the US government to say 'thank you very much Mister Assange, may we wait for you on your doormat tonight, when you return from your busy day at the office?'. Their electorate will demand action and, if only because of that, Assange's hostile activities are going to be the subject of punishment.

        I'll order some fresh popcorn I think. It is now becoming more interesting than even I had foreseen.

    2. Graham Wilson

      @Turtle - Marksman, where did you learn to specialize in targeting messengers?

      Marksman, where did you learn to specialize in targeting messengers?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Thats how they got Al Capone.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    It would be the end of western democracy...

    if they send Assange to prison in the US. Literally, I am serious. Or perhaps the official confirmation of the end of democracy.

    1. asdf


      You mean 8 years of the Bush administration pushing the UK and allies to be evil didn't confirm it for ya?

    2. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      Assange's very public metaphorical flogging is a warning to us all from our leaders

      @AC: ”It would be the end of western democracy”

      You say “the end of western democracy” yet Wikileaks have already provided us with absolute confirmation our leaders (in every country) lie endlessly to us (so our leaders can get their own way and so they show they don't really work for us), which is already shocking proof Democracy doesn't really exist. But even worse, it also shows in hindsight its always really been a lie. So really its been endless lies for centuries (But then Niccolò Machiavelli tried to tell us this 5 centuries ago. Yet for all that time people like us have still believed way too many of our leaders lies; not realising the extent of their lies. But now Wikileaks (and technology like the Internet) is finally showing us their lies. So no wonder our leaders want to utterly punish and destroy Assange very publicly).

      If that isn't bad enough, what Wikileaks is helping us see is the realisation that for centuries our leaders only reason to keep up the pretence of representing us and saying they do what we say, is that they know if they didn't keep up the pretence, the resulting unified mass public anger of millions of people against them and their lies would rapidly throw them out of power. Which is why they fear us seeing through their lies and deception. After all the people with the most, are also the people with the most to loose and so threatening what they have is the real "crime" they seek to punish Assange for (which is the real reason they hope to take him to the “land of the free” to stand trial under their US snooping act. After all don't snoop on them, as revealing the truth threatens to undermine their words and games to get more for them).

      But even worse, its not simply to punish Assange, but to very publicly metaphorically flog him in front of us all, to also send us all the same message, which is never oppose our leaders; never threaten what they have built up (for themselves). So that disturbing realisation of the message they are sending us all is a shockingly clear demonstration that we don't really live in a democracy at all. (Its so shocking because it limits the kinds of political system we really have, to the most frightening forms of political systems of state control, now we can finally see through our leaders lies).

      No wonder our leaders hate (and fear) what Wikileaks (and the Internet) is helping to confirm (because our leaders fear us knowing). Wikileaks is showing us our arrogantly self serving leaders are behaving at best like a Kleptocracy, but even worse, TheReg has been showing us increasingly shocking news for the past few years its becoming at best an increasingly Authoritarian Kleptocracy. Its this very obvious increasing aspect of the Authoritarian attitudes which is so frightening, because history shows Authoritarian Kleptocracies decay towards even worse forms of political state control. :(

      So "end of western democracy"? … What is happening is showing us we are way past that already! :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        So you didn't already know that politicians lie sometimes?

        And what's your solution - overthrow the politicians, and replace them with what, exactly?

        You reckon you could have a perfect /direct/ democracy in a country where there was a free capitalist media, always trying to get the population to vote in ways that suited them?

        If you had a controlled media, who does the controlling?

        1. MinionZero
          Big Brother

          The politicians lies & the importance of what the Internet (and Wikileaks) have done

          @AC : "So you didn't already know that politicians lie sometimes"

          I don't know how you can imply I "didn't already know"?! How on earth did you think I wrote that without already knowing?! ... I know they lie, its having the proof to convince all others our leaders lie endlessly, that has up until now been the difficult part. That is where Wikileaks comes in and part of the real reason why our leaders are so angry with Assange and Wikileaks. For a start proof of so many government lies destroys any chance for pro-authoritarian sycophants to keep covering up the government lies saying they don't lie, ironically thereby covering a lie with a lie. What Wikileaks has done now is destroy that lying game once and for all time. We now have mounting evidence against them. That is a starting point and one I hope future generations will look back in gratitude for when they hear about the starting decades of the Internet (and Wikileaks) and see it all as a turning point for fairness in this world.

          Which in part helps answer the rest of, I have to say AC, your condescending post. (I count 3 straw arguments in your post, AC poster, but I'm trying not to just be annoyed at your obvious attempts to dismiss everything I say and instead answering your points).

          "And what's your solution - overthrow the politicians, and replace them with what, exactly?"

          No, overthrow is one of your straw man arguments. Yet history shows overthrowing them doesn’t ever really work, as you just replace one bunch of two faced arrogant bastards in power with another bunch of two faced arrogant bastards in power. Therefore a new solution is required.

          The answer is we finally have the technology to monitor our politicians like never before and that is what we need to do (The Internet is already starting to do this). But we need more, much more deeply embedded into all governments to literally force Big Brother on to our minority of leaders, before they force it all onto us. They want Big Brother, so its time to give it to them!. If they want to work for us, then they do so in the open and before you believe their lies about they can't have all this data in the open, don't ever forget 3 million had access to that data. So in that 3 million every major government would easily have many spies, so they all know what every other government is doing and what they all think about each other!. THEREFORE THE ONLY PEOPLE REALLY KEPT IN THE DARK, ARE ALL OF US!, THE VERY PEOPLE OUR LEADERS SAY THEY REPRESENT!. We are the true target of their secrecy and lies, so they can get away with doing whatever they want and then lie to us about it.

          Well its time up. The leaks now prove beyond any doubt our leaders are such pervasive liars that they can't ever be trusted ever again in any way. So now they need to be policed far more closely from this point on and its the only way we can ever have a Democracy and if they don't like it, they only have themselves to blame. Their kind have betrayed our trust for centuries and each generation of them have thought they could just keep on getting away with it. Well no more. Now we have the technology to monitor our representatives and they don't need anywhere as many secrets as they seek to keep against us. Time to force Democracy on them.

          1. david wilson

            @The politcians' lies, etc

            >>"I know they lie, its having the proof to convince all others our leaders lie endlessly, that has up until now been the difficult part."

            Oh, I see, *you're* one of the enlightened few, but everyone *else* was too stupid to realise that politicians lie.

            What a low opinion of most of the rest of humanity you seem to have.

            Yet presumably you're relying on those people to demand things are done differently in future.

            How many of those people do you think actually care about the bulk of the released information?

            >>"Well no more. Now we have the technology to monitor our representatives"

            Well, you have the hope that the governments you don't trust an inch who have dominated the proles for centuries will learn nothing about data security and will allow the same situation to repeatedly happen in future.

            Maybe you think that despite managing to fool most people most of the time, they're *also* nowhere near as bright as you are?

            1. MinionZero

              @david wilson

              People have expertise in different areas, such as studying psychology & history, but don't let that fact get in the way of your attempts to misrepresent what I was saying.

              For example, try reading up on cluster B personality disorders which shows their manipulative lying ways. Try reading up on history which shows the ways people in power behave throughout history. Assange is being demonised like a modern day Guy Fawkes and if some in the US government got their way, they would have him executed and this news for them, is him being dragged one step nearer the gallows.

              But if you think the entire population already knows all this, then close all the schools and universities.

      2. scrubber

        Authoritarian Kleptocracies decaying

        I wonder what the half-life of an Authoritarian Kleptocracy is?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    So they can't easily extradite this group of arsebiscuits for publishing classified information *very publicly*, but they can drag McKinnon across??

    To be fair, in the UK the Official Secrets Act applies to all UK citizens, but it'd hardly be fair for us to apply it to citizens of other countries, so I can kind of see the point they're making. On the other hand, that would make the charges against Pte Manning far more serious.

    Most of the leaks don't even deserve a 'meh', but watching the trolling and astroturfing aint half fun!

    1. SkippyBing

      the Official Secrets Act applies to all UK citizens

      No, it can be applied to any UK Citizen if they're in a position to know anything covered by it, but unless you're in that position you're not subject to it. Because you don't know anything.

      If it does apply to you, you generally have to sign it, otherwise you wouldn't know what you couldn't do, and that's too Kafkaesque even for us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        It applies to all, although as you say, if you're not in a position to know the info it doesn't really affect you. There's a big difference between being subject to a law and being affected by it!

        The bit you sign is not the OSA but in fact a confirmation that you understand the restrictions/responsibilities.

        Ignorance is no defence under the OSA, or indeed any other law. We're all supposed, somehow, to know exactly what is and isn't legal. Fair? No, but thats the way we roll apparently.

        The link you posted is a very basic guide to the OSA, if you look at a more detailed explanation you'll see. I've signed it more times than I care to remember, and have read up on it each time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Assange deserves the Nobel more than Obama

          Funny how what is normally called obstruction of justice is called official secrets when it comes to the government

    2. Steven Jones

      McKinnon is different

      McKinnon hacked into computers. Whatever Assange has done, nobody has seriously suggested he has done that. The Pentagon Papers ruling determined that journalists would only have committed an offence if they had solicited such a break-in into classified systems. However, it does seem that the US authorities are attempting to change the rules and limit the definition of a journalist so it does not include those with political motives.

      1. david wilson

        @Steven Jones

        >>"However, it does seem that the US authorities are attempting to change the rules and limit the definition of a journalist so it does not include those with political motives."

        Just for the moment, ignoring the disturbing attempted extraterritoriality, and how damaging the information may be (since we haven't seen it all yet), there's a tricky point there.

        Let's just imagine for the moment we're talking about an American journalist/organisation, who have published something that many people would think was at least pushing the boundaries.

        If there is an absolute 100% protection for journalists, then you could end up with a situation where someone receiving classified information [allegedly] harmful to a country's interests can be prosecuted if they don't tell anyone, or only tell a few people, but not if they're going to tell everyone and claim they're a journalist.

        Surely, there's some kinds of classified information where that wouldn't make any sense?

        On the other hand, if there isn't absolute protection, the government can potentially pick off people it doesn't like.

        Maybe in the end it comes down to a jury decision about whether there was information with minimal journalistic value being released for malicious reasons.

        For example, if someone published a list of names of informers, where there was no obvious public interest but which put people in danger, people might think that was something that was outside the bounds of protection for journalism.

        Even if someone had actually published thousands of obviously protected articles, that may not necessarily prevent action being taken over even one or two that were considered to go too far.

        It would be an odd situation where someone could call themselves a journalist and claim privileges a normal citizen couldn't, but was not in return expected to live up to some minimum standard of professional responsibility to qualify for the protection.

        While it might not be easy to define such standards, and it seems to make sense to err on the side of journalistic freedom, there would be some kinds of information release which would be enough to make almost anyone think that a person had crossed the line.

        Since Assange claims that information is being redacted, presumably *he* has a personal line which *he* doesn't think can be crossed while still calling information release justifiable journalism.

        Ultimately, it may come down to where someone sets their own line, and maybe where they think potential jurors might set theirs.

        1. Steven Jones


          @David Wilson

          It would be interesting to see what the US response would be should one of their citizens publish something covered the Official Sercrets Act or whatever equivalents exist in various countries. I rather suspect that any extradition request on those grounds would get short shirft in the American Courts as it would most certainly be covered by the first amendment.

          The Pentagon Papers judgement did not appear to depend on the sensitivity of the data. It appeared to be based on the means by which the data was received. In other words if the journalist had hacked his way in, or directly solicited the information, then he would have been culpable. However, if such papers were just handed over, then he was within his rights to publish them.

          Of course the real issue about extra-territoriality is the ability to enforce it, which when it comes down to it depends more on political relationships and factors as anything else. Personally I doubt that Assange would ever get extradited from Sweden to the US. I'm personally very grategul that the Swedes will probably have to deal with the political fall-out rather than the UK.

          1. david wilson

            @Steven Jones

            >>"However, if such papers were just handed over, then he was within his rights to publish them."

            Is that truly an unlimited right?

            If a local communist sympathiser had been freely given atom bomb plans in the late 40s and hadn't passed them on to the USSR, but had published them for everyone to read, or if someone US Muslim today published lists of access codes/passwords for sensitive infrastructure or military hardware that they hadn't sought but which someone had mailed them, I'd suspect that there'd be at least an attempt at prosecution, particularly if the person concerned had made anything that could be taken (or portrayed) as a threat to publish more in certain circumstances.

            As it is, I guess a deal might come down to what Manning says, or has already said - if he said (truthfully or not) that he was encouraged in any way to get more information, that might be something that would be seized on as indicating complicity unless the opposite could be proved

            I'm sure there'd be a significant desire to shift blame to the Manipulative Foreigner rather than the poor misguided local, if there's a chance of getting away with it.

            >>"Personally I doubt that Assange would ever get extradited from Sweden to the US."

            >>"I'm personally very grateful that the Swedes will probably have to deal with the political fall-out rather than the UK."

            Or whichever country he ends up in after Sweden.

            I can imagine that many places might think the easier option would be to refuse him entry, unless they actually wanted an argument with the USA.

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        McKinnon's real 'crime'

        was to cause embarassment to US military muppets who were sufficiently clueless to leave wide open holes in their computer systems - things like not changing default passwords. He did them a favour: he showed that they were deficient in a relatively benign way.

        The similarity with Wikileaks is that it is another case of shoot the messenger.

        1. david wilson

          @alain williams

          >>"The similarity with Wikileaks is that it is another case of shoot the messenger."

          Not quite the same - in McKinnon's case, the systems were insecure even to random outsiders, he wasn't actually breaching any trust which had been explicitly placed in him, and it doesn't seem like he actually released much sensitive material.

          It was the breaking-in and /alleged/ deletion of files which was the main 'crime', not the handling of information.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Umm, not quite

      The OSA is a law that also applies to foreigners.

      I had to sign it many times before I was given access to protectively marked information..

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Beggars belief

    Whether or not you agree/disagree with what this organisation has done, it beggars belief that the US think that they can hope to prosecute someone for doing something entirely in a foreign country, that is perfectly legal there.

    You've got to admire the gall of these people. Or not.

    1. Graham Wilson

      @skelband - Rules change when you are an empire.

      Rules change when you are an empire.

      Assange and WikiLeaks have shown that you don't need a star on the flag to effectively be a state.

  7. Bucky 2

    Someone Please Explain...

    ...why Woodward and Bernstein were heroes, but Assange is a villain.

    I don't understand the fundamental difference. Seriously. I'm not trying to make a political point. I actually don't understand the difference.

    1. CaptainHook

      Whats the difference?


      Watergate was about a few people in position of power going 'rogue'. Once the truth came out, it was easy for the rest of government to dump them and contain the problem.

      Wikileaks has provided evidence of the systematic illegality and arsehattery by the US government as a whole. Anyone is any position of power in the US government or diplomatic services is tainted.

      1. Chris 3

        The difference?

        "Wikileaks has provided evidence of the systematic illegality and arsehattery by the US government as a whole. "

        Oh, I thought it had leaked a whole lot of not-hard-to-find-but-usefully-in-one-place-now information on strategical cable landing sites, vaccine factories etc.

        My mistake.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        RE: Whats the difference?

        Actually it was because the people involved in the Watergate affair broke the law. So far, all the Wikileaks have shown us is a few embarassing conversations about allies, nothing on law-breaking activities.

        1. Galidron

          Law Breaking

          This came from Wikileaks and I think it implies breaking of the law.

    2. Marky W


      He's a pesky furr-ner (and probaby a stinky athiest to boot), not a god-fearing 'merkin patriot!

      1. Rich 30
        Thumb Up

        @Marky W - i lol'd

        These are very good reasons to be affraid of him.

    3. Jim Preis

      Explanation for you

      First, I'm an Assange fan.

      OK, Woodward and Bernstein uncovered illegal activity executed by the RNC (sanctioned by Tricky Dick himself), specifically the Watergate Break-in. They revealed illegal activity.

      Wikileaks and by proxy Assange is publishing classified/secret information. IF he were a US citizen, he would be charged with espionage or the like. In this case he has broken a US law, BUT the point is moot as US Law doesn't apply to non-US citizens (at least not at this moment...)

      So the difference is night and day.

      I'm a male American. And hypothetically if I were a cross-dresser, I would keep my size 32 Hello Kitty thong more secure than the US Gvt. keeps its classified docs. But hey - just today the military has prohibited removable media from its super secret network... on days that don't end in "Y".

      Hugs - with reeeeeeeeaaaallllly long arms (we all have 'em in the US),

      Jim "God Help US" Preis

      1. Beelzeebob

        moot schmoot

        "US Law doesn't apply to non-US citizens"

        Tell that to Manuel Noriega.

        He wasn't a US citizen, but the USA invaded panama, captured him, took him to the USA and charged and convicted him of breaking US law.

    4. Ian Michael Gumby

      The youth of today...

      Woodward and Bernstein were journalists who investigated and reported on the corruption behind the scenes. What they did was investigate and report within the law.

      Assnage coerced a US Soldier in to provided sensitive documents which he then dumped on the world without considering the ramifications of his actions. (W&B did consider the ramifications)

      W&B acted within the law. Assnage did not.

      W&B did not leak classified documents. Assnage did.

      Do you want to go on?

      BTW, you want to talk about the US government. Look around you. Look at all governments.

      Time to grow up and get a real look at the world around you. There are bad people doing bad things.

      1. deadlockvictim

        Law & Jurisdiction please

        Which law (or set of laws) in which jurisdiction did Mr. Assange break? My understanding is that he would have broken the law in the States had he done the publication from the US. But he did not. is presence in the relevant jurisdiction important when a crime is committed? If I embarrassed the Chinese government from within America, should the Chinese government be allowed to lock me up?

        If anyone is a criminal, it is the person/people who supplied Mr. Assange with the sensitive documents. They must have signed Official Secrets Acts orders and, by giving the documents over, they broke the law, no matter where in the world they were.

        However, Mr. Assange is the figure of hate at the moment and he is teh one who must be brought down, by whatever spurious means can be found. He doesn't have any WMD does he? That worked the last time on a traumatized America.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        @The Youth of Today

        Repeatedly, and deliberately using a 'funny' variation on a persons name in order to denigrate them doesn't make your argument stronger, it just makes you look like a tit. Just thought I should clear that one up for you.

        Whether or not you agree with Assange's actions, calling him 'ass-n-age', or variations thereon is just childish and stupid. Don't try to drag a serious discussion into the playground; it doesn't belong there.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Say what?

        What laws exactly? You mean the laws that stop at the US border? Several thousands of miles from Julian Assange?

        Don't get me wrong, I see your point, but technically Assange hasn't broken any laws in his jurisdiction. In the same way as when you have a beer tonight you're not breaking the law in your jurisdiction, but you sure as hell are somewhere.

        Maybe we should start prosecuting all those dope smoking law breakers in Holland; they're breaking the law after all, right?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @some please explain

      To give some examples:

      - the leaked documents do not show widespread particular Evil/criminal behaviour to the extent the Pentagon papers or the Whitehouse tapes showed. As such, the "cost / benefit" balance is not the same and the leak has less merit

      - whatever little reproachable behaviour is shown could have been dealt with like journalists have dealt with for centuries: you publish a story. No need to put on-line the actual cables, since this again impacts the "cost / benefit" ratio

      - WikiLeaks has repeatedly shown to be "anti-american", which means it's motives are more in question than those of let's say a Woodward

      So don't get me wrong. I too am fascinated by the information coming out of these cables, and want wrongdoing brought to light. But some level of privacy is needed in all affairs, diplomacy included. If that privacy is abused, by all means expose it. I'm not convinced at this point that there is "just cause", or that this is doing all of us a favour.

  8. SkippyBing

    Who says Americans can't do Irony

    So in fighting those who wish to establish a totalitarian theocracy that stamps out any form of dissent, the US has become a totalitarian theocracy that stamps out any form of dissent...

    Isn't there a quote about fighting monsters and being careful not to become one...

    P.S. I don't necessarily agree with Wikileaks policy of releasing everything they've got, but the US are being dicks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      that'd be Nietzsche

      "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

    2. Miek

      I believe in Buddhism there is a phrase that says ..

      "What you oppose, you become"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Now we know why he was remanded.

    Looks like Cameron is just as much America's poodle as Blaire was.

    Are they going to charge the editors of the Guardian, the Director General of the BBC and everyone else who published these documents with espionage?

    If not then this is nothing but a show trial and a total abuse of power in order to crush any future whistle-blowing on the US.

    Is it me or is America looking more like China every day?

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Now we know why he was remanded

      Do you mean you didn't immediately think this the second your heard the Judge had remanded him?!

      Looks like USA are shedding rights faster than a the worlds most inept gang of right handed Arab pick-pockets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I suspected.

        Now I know.

        "Looks like USA are shedding rights faster than a the worlds most inept gang of right handed Arab pick-pockets."

        Unlike those Arabs, the US is doing it deliberately and without concern for what the people they work for think about it.

    2. JohnG

      re Now we know why he was remanded

      I think you will find Assange was arrested on behalf of the Swedish government, not the US government. He has been remanded because there are genuine fears for his safety. If some loony decided to shoot him or otherwise injure him, there would be a load of finger pointing that this was part of some dastardly government plot to assassinate him.

    3. david wilson

      @"Norfolk 'n' Goode

      >>"If not then this is nothing but a show trial and a total abuse of power in order to crush any future whistle-blowing on the US."

      The best way to safeguard whistle-blowing would have been not have incompetent or badly-advised people doing it, giving away all kinds of irrelevant crap, and possibly unnecessary sensitive information alongside the really important stuff which does show up real wrongdoing.

      Appearing to be someone who just grabbed whatever they could get their hands on without even checking if it was meaningful isn't a great appearance for someone hoping for protection for breaching secrecy rules.

      Wikileaks could actually have done Manning and whistleblowing in general a huge favour if they'd just deleted all the shite and kept the important stuff, but maybe his future wasn't really their concern.

      In today's WikiGossip - Archbishop of Canterbury reportedly worried about Pope trying to attract misogynist Anglicans.

      Well, bugger me, we all really needed to know *that* to safeguard Western Democracy, didn't we?

    4. bill 36

      Its been that way for a long time

      But the "regime" have always been experts in selling the wholesome American family thing for generations now. All apple pie and popcorn and Sunday best on for a trip to the church once a week.

      The image is as phoney as the crooks in the White House

      I just hope that this farce gets played out all the way so that people can finally lay to rest this mythical image of the good 'ol US of A and see it for what it really is.

  10. Carlo Graziani

    A Slender Reed

    It's risky to hang a blockbuster news story like this one on statements made by Assange's attorney, who is unlikely to have firsthand knowledge of the thinking at the Justice department, and who has a vested interest in winding up the martyr factor for her client.

    Given how colossally stupid a U.S. effort to prosecute Assange for espionage would be (under the same legal theory, the head of Chinese foreign intelligence could also be indicted for espionage against the U.S., and extradition demands lodged with the Chinese government), I seriously doubt that the premise of this story is correct. You've been had.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Slender Reed

      You really should do some research before you jump to conclusions.

      "The US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced yesterday that the justice department and Pentagon are conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation" into the latest Assange-facilitated leak under Washington's Espionage Act."

      1. Carlo Graziani

        A Slender Reed

        So you would be using ESP to transition from "Active ongoing criminal investigation" to "to be indicted soon"? Or are you privy to leaked Justice Department docs? Or do you just not understand the distinction between a criminal investigation and an indictment?

        The story is "Assange to be indicted soon". Don't take my word for it, go back and read it. The evidence for this is a statement by his UK attorney. That's it. Now, ask yourself, would you bet a large sum of money that this is in fact true, based on that evidence? I wouldn't.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No ESP but you're seeing things.

          I just contradicted your assertions that this was all made up by his lawyer as some sort of publicity stunt by pointing out that they were taking this very seriously. Also I can't see the Attorney General of the USA making statements like that unless they were looking at charging Assange and that's where your first post falls down, hence the link and quote.

          So if you're quite finished making stuff up about what I said can we just wait and see what happens.

          1. david wilson

            @Norfolk 'n' Goode

            >>"Also I can't see the Attorney General of the USA making statements like that unless they were looking at charging Assange"

            Though possibly they are rushing into maximum reaction in order to appear to be doing something, one other interpretation is that they're preparing the ground for later, by giving a warning now.

            If it is *possible* that journalism isn't a perfect defence, if they make it clear now that they're contemplating prosecution, if more stuff gets released in future which [at least arguably] does compromise security and [at least arguably] doesn't seem to have much journalistic merit, then it may be harder for someone in the future to plead ignorance, or claim that they thought they were fully protected.

            Even if they weren't planning on immediate action, it may still make sense for them to make a lot of noise, either in the hope that less gets released, or to give them a better case in future.

            It may be easier either to get a conviction or a heavier punishment, whether in this case or a future one, if someone can claim to have given all possible warnings.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @No ESP but you're seeing things

            >>"Also I can't see the Attorney General of the USA making statements like that unless they were looking at charging Assange"

            Not even as a way of applying pressure, or as a way of not being seen to be doing absolutely nothing?

            1. Charles 9

              Can't be pressure.

              As Assange is anti-American, any posturing on the US's part would likely be replied with some polite version of the one-fingered salute. As for being seen as not doing anything, considering their public face at the moment, one could say it might be wiser to simply shut up and only LOOK like an idiot.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              But they don't look like they're applying pressure.

              They look ignorant, bitter and spiteful.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward


                "But they don't look like they're applying pressure.

                "They look ignorant, bitter and spiteful.

                Consider that, hard though it may be to believe, maybe it's not you who's their sole intended audience.

                The more noise they make now, the more they may make people entrusted with secrets think twice about handing them over, or make other people wary of receiving them if they can't prove they didn't do any encouraging.

  11. K. Adams

    Flashback to the '70s Redux

    Disclaimer: This post is not intended to either defend or persecute WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and/or Bradley Manning.

    In a post on an earlier article:

    -- -- Comments to "Pro-Wikileaks Hacktivistas in DDoS Dustup with Patriot Contras"

    -- --

    -- -- "Flashback to the '70s"

    I indicated that there are two very important words that need to be taken into consideration regarding any attempt to prosecute Julian Assange and/or WikiLeaks for their action(s) in publishing the diplomatic cables (allegedly) provided by Bradley Manning:

    -- -- Pentagon Papers

    -- --

    For those too young to have lived through what is arguably the most famous of Cablegate's foreshadowing scandals, here's a quick recap:

    In 1969, during a time of political upheaval fairly similar to what we're seeing today, a guy named Daniel Ellsberg copied a 4,100 page document (small by WikiLeaks' standards, but I digress) called

    -- -- "United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense"

    while working at the RAND Corporation, a non-profit think-tank with high-level FedGov connections.

    After sitting on the study for a while, Ellsberg contacted Neil Sheehan, a reporter at the New York Times, and handed over the kit in February 1971. The NYT tossed the issue around internally for a bit, debating the legalities of publishing the info, then started printing excerpts on June 13, 1971.

    President Nixon was rather unconcerned, since the incidents described in the study occurred during the terms of his predecessors. However, his Administration's upper rank-and-file weren't so laissez-faire. After National Security Advisor Kissinger convinced Nixon to change his stance, Attorney General Mitchell used the Espionage Act of 1917 to obtain an injunction against the publication of further excerpts by the New York Times. The NYT appealed, and the case quickly climbed the judicial ladder and landed itself in front of the US Supreme Court:

    -- -- New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713)

    -- --

    The Supreme Court ruled in the New York Times' favour, saying that material provided in the Public Interest to a news organisation cannot be censored by Prior Restraint.

    It was a landmark case, strengthening the foundations of the United States' Freedom of the Press. Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times were hailed as heroes by some, and vilified by others, much the same as with Manning and Assange, today.

    A quick comparison of the legal ramifications of Cablegate (Now) and the Pentagon Papers Affair (Then) provides the upshot to all this: In the United States, at least, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and the news organisations working with them are legally in the clear. By legal precedent of the United States' highest Court, the barriers against pre-publication censorship are very high indeed, and the Government needs the Mother of All Ladders to climb over them.

    In a reply to my earlier post, one commenter said that (basically) Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange are nothing alike, and that Assange is "all talk and no walk," indicating that Ellsberg had a lot more backbone. The problem with this assessment, in my opinion, is that the commenter is (in my words) "comparing apples and oranges."

    If you take a look at the parts being played by the various Cablegate cast of characters, Bradley Manning is Daniel Ellsberg, and Julian Assange/WikiLeaks is the New York Times. Assange can't be equated with Ellsberg, because Assange didn't steal anything. He was **given** the documents by another party, in much the same way that the New York Times received the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg. Assange is a reporter, and WikiLeaks is his media outlet. If anybody "walked the walk" in this affair, it's Bradley Manning, should it be proven that he is the person responsible for collecting and leaking the documents to Assange.

    Whether Manning and Assange/WikiLeaks are heroes or villains is not the point of my ramblings. Rather, my point is that by legal precedent, there's nothing to prosecute. In the United States, Prior Restraint against publication in the Public Interest is unconstitutional.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      More recent case? Details are hazy

      Wasn't there something a few years back where the as part of "The War on Terror" the Feds leaned so heavily on the New York Time to release their source that they did and the guy went to prison. Not exactly the same, admittedly, and Manning is in prison 'cos he shot his mouth off, but indicative that there is more than one way to kill a cat than fitting it with a diamond-studded collar.

      As for Assange - he's turning into a one-hit wonder - so it's diminishing returns to go after him and give him "the oxygen of publicity". The Amazon, Visa and Mastercard shenanigans and the inability to close down the whistleblower infrastructure will have lastingly tarnished US foreign interests in ways that are probably not yet clear.

      Maybe they should hire Apple's PR wizards who seem more effective at managing the dissemination of information and bringing down anyone who stands in their way? Otherwise: publish and be damned.

    2. Mike Moyle


      " point is that by legal precedent, there's nothing to prosecute. In the United States, Prior Restraint against publication in the Public Interest is unconstitutional.'

      Stuff *HAS* been published,

      No prior restraint.

      1. K. Adams

        @Mike Moyle: No Prior Restraint?

        > "Stuff *HAS* been published,

        > No prior restraint."

        Not all of it; WikiLeaks has repeatedly indicated that it would be periodically releasing the diplomatic cable documents in batches. Assange/WikiLeaks is behaving in the same manner now that the New York Times behaved back then, with data being released in chunks on a periodic basis.

        With regard to the original New York Times v. United States trial, once the Nixon Administration lost on Prior Restraint, its case against the NYT relating to material already published was undermined to the point of collapse: If an activity you're planning to undertake in the future cannot be construed as illegal, then the same activity undertaken in the past must by definition be legal as well, because the Constitutionality of an action does not depend on when it occurs, so long as the events occur after the Constitution (or appropriate covering amendment) itself was written.

        1. david wilson

          @K. Adams

          >>"If an activity you're planning to undertake in the future cannot be construed as illegal, then the same activity undertaken in the past must by definition be legal as well, because the Constitutionality of an action does not depend on when it occurs,"

          (I'm asking here because I'm interested, not because I'm trying to start an argument)

          Is it the case that it's been officially concluded that publishing is always legal by definition, or merely that it can't be stopped in advance?

          Surely it's constitutional to do all kinds of things to people after they've broken a law, but not in order to prevent them, at least in part because prevention requires pre-judging the legality of an action that hasn't happened.

          Even if it's not the actual legal position, it'd be a at least a defensible position to take that in the interests of openness, someone is free to publish without restraint, but then to be judged on what they have published, not least because in the latter situation, everyone is free to see exactly what has been published and to assess the merits of the case for themselves, which isn't the case when there's prior restraint.

    3. Busby
      Black Helicopters

      K. Adams

      Nice write up, informative yet easy to read. I think you may be missing a trick here though. I do not think anyone in e US government believes a conviction for anything is likely. However the idea of Assange racking up crippling legal fees has to appeal to those in power. Many other possible outcomes other than conviction that are a positive result for oppressive govs.

      As I have said on here before the inaurnce file could turn out to be a game changer depending on how nfar things go against him.

    4. Steven Knox

      One more gray area

      "A quick comparison of the legal ramifications of Cablegate (Now) and the Pentagon Papers Affair (Then) provides the upshot to all this: In the United States, at least, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and the news organisations working with them are legally in the clear. By legal precedent of the United States' highest Court, the barriers against pre-publication censorship are very high indeed, and the Government needs the Mother of All Ladders to climb over them."

      Except that it is not established that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks qualify as a news organization. It also cannot be easily said that the material provided has in fact been provided in the Public Interest.

      Finally, it's important to note that precedent is not law. Judges are expected and encouraged to review and cite precedent in the interest of keeping the administration of law swift and consistent; however, they are free to disagree with the precedent or find that an individual case does not fit a given precedent for specific reasons.

      So for all these reasons, there is a possibility of prosecution. I say possibility, because we still have no reliable source that an indictment is imminent. Assange's lawyer may be a reliable individual, but in this case his motivations are clearly biased, and press surrounding even the possibility of indictment serves his interests far more than those of the US government. The US government is biased in exactly the other direction, so they're keeping the likelihood of an actual indictment close to their chests. In short, we actually learn exactly nothing from this news that could not have been reasoned out from news of 6 weeks ago.

    5. Ian Michael Gumby
      Black Helicopters

      Good post but not 100% accurate..

      There's a large difference. Assnage isn't a reporter and wiki leaks isn't part of the Press.

      Its enough of a loophole to drive a truck through.

      Add to this the fact that most of what was published indiscriminately and without censor. That could not be said of the NYT.

      What Assnage did was not in the public's best interest. Not in the slightest.

      1. Goat Jam

        Why is Wikileaks not part of the press?

        Because Assange doesn't rub shoulders at cocktail parties with the ruling elite in the same way that Rupert and Co do?

        Because he doesn't have an unwritten agreement to scratch the backs of the powers that be?

        Because he doesn't print stuff on dead trees?

        Do we intend on moving into the 21st Century any time soon?

    6. Gwaptiva
      Thumb Up

      One Big Difference

      Great and informative write-up. Would like to point out one major difference between Cablegate and the Pentagon Papers is that the publication of the latter was accompanied by journalistic analysis (which is what got Mr Sheehan his Pulitzer), something completely lacking from WikiLeaks.

      But I grant that indeed you compared Assange to the NYT and not to Mr Sheehan.

      Disclosure: Mr Sheehan has been a hero of mine since I met him after attending a lecture at my uni 20 years or so ago.

      1. david wilson


        >>"But I grant that indeed you compared Assange to the NYT and not to Mr Sheehan."

        Did the NYT have a long interaction with Ellsberg before he copied the information, the way Manning seems to be claiming that Assange did with him?

  12. Chronigan

    Not a watershed unless convicted.

    "If brought, charges against Assange would reflect a watershed event in the US, which has never successfully prosecuted a news organization for publishing classified information."

    Until an actual verdict, nothing has changed from when the Times and Post reported on the Pentagon Papers.

    Even then the First Amendment Protection will be tested against the usefulness to the public, and potential harm to the goverment and/or the public or persons referenced in the released information. The only serious way to get a conviction is to probe how the information was obtained, and to charge assange/wikkileaks for any applicable violations.

    In cases like this, the motives of the person releasing the information can be more important than the actually info that was released. From what I can tell Wikileaks was more interested in hurting and embarrassing the goverment rather than informing the public, which is very different from the Pentagon Papers.

    1. Mephistro


      "From what I can tell Wikileaks was more interested in hurting and embarrassing the goverment rather than informing the public"

      Could you please give us more details? is "From what I can tell" synonymous to "I have a gut feeing" or " I don't like this Ass Hanged guy" ? Because most pain for the US government came from their own ineptitude. Ineptitude in keeping such sensible documents safe in the first place, in negotiating the release of the documents with Assange while they could, in NOT causing a mass reaction+Streissand effect and obtaining public attention from parsecs away by placing bogus accusations on Assange and trying to entrap him in Sweden.

      "Damage limitation" seems to be a novelty for those experienced politicians in Washington. -_^

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Are there two kinds of espionage?

    There appears to be. We have the kind where you steal credit card numbers and fingerprint data, like Hilary Clinton seems to think is acceptable, and the kind where you publish letters that expose such crimes.

    Actually now that I think about it, if they're going to charge him with anything they should be honest and charge him for contraespionage.

    Beer because it's Friday night except I'm just drinking Lucozade :(

    1. Mephistro

      New Phrase of the Year contestant: FeO :)

      "if they're going to charge him with anything they should be honest and charge him for contraespionage."

      And yes, you owe me a new keyboard. I was having a yoghurt. There is no way to clean that stuff !.

  14. Andy Christ
    Black Helicopters

    No "Surprise" Here

    The current composition of the US Supreme court is the most conservative it has been in decades. Were a case against Assange to get that far, it is quite possible that the Espionage act would in this instance be upheld.

    His arrest on Swedish charges was an obvious setup to get him extradited not to Sweden but to the USA. Once he is charged under the Espionage Act, Sweden will drop the dubious "surprise sex" charges against him, mark my words.

    1. corestore

      No, you don't understand...

      A conservative Supreme Court is *more* likely to stick to the guns of the first amendment; few things are more sacrosanct in the USA than the freedom of the press. A more liberal SC, they would be the ones to see the Constitution as a 'living, changing document' and more likely to reinterpret it to suit the mood of the day...

      1. Steven Knox


        You would be correct, corestore, if the terms "Conservative" and "Liberal" have retained their original meaning in US politics. Unfortunately, Conservatives in US politics today are more often Neo-Conservatives, less interested in any reading of the Constitution at all than they are in simply finding the best way to make decisions that favor large businesses and the military-industrial complex.

  15. D. M


    Apart from he has done nothing wrong, He is not US citizen and doesn't operate in US. What charge can they make up against him? Whatever the stuff they (US gov) smoke, must be very strong.

    1. Velv
      Big Brother

      You cannot say "he's done nothing wrong"

      There was a time when committing a crime, any crime, required a physical presence at the location.

      So laws were pretty clear cut about what and where they applied - the location was known, and therefore lay with a defined jurisdiction.

      Modern technology blurs the boundaries. A crime can be perpetrated in one jurisdiction and committed in another.

      Theoretical - a webcam mounted to a rifle in Times Square. User not in USA picks the target and kills someone. It is murder. Nobody can deny that it is murder. But where was the murder perpetrated and where was the murder committed.

      Extrapolate - no matter where in the world you are, the laws of every jurisdiction can be made to apply if you undertake "illegal" activities that could be determined to exist in another jurisdiction.

      The Law has not yet caught up - be very very very afraid.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Please Indict Me, Too. Then Proceed To Next Illegal War.

    From a USG cable (check with Google for accuracy, use the "<phrase>" operator:

    "26. (S) The BM-25

    Russia said that during its presentations in Moscow and its

    comments thus far during the current talks, the U.S. has

    discussed the BM-25 as an existing system. Russia questioned

    the basis for this assumption and asked for any facts the

    U.S. had to provide its existence such as launches, photos,

    etc. For Russia, the BM-25 is a mysterious missile. North

    Korea has not conducted any tests of this missile, but the

    U.S. has said that North Korea transferred 19 of these

    missiles to Iran. It is hard for Russia to follow the logic

    trail on this. Since Russia has not seen any evidence of

    this missile being developed or tested, it is hard for Russia

    to imagine that Iran would buy an untested system. Russia

    does not understand how a deal would be made for an untested

    missile. References to the missile's existence are more in

    the domain of political literature than technical fact. In

    short, for Russia, there is a question about the existence of

    this system.

    ¶27. (S) The U.S. repeated its earlier comment that Iran and

    North Korea have different standards of missile development

    than many other countries, including the U.S. and Russia.

    North Korea exported No Dong missiles after only one flight

    test, so it is not unimaginable that it would build and seek

    to export a system that has not been tested. This is

    especially true for North Korea because of its need for hard

    currency. In the U.S. view, the more interesting question is

    why would Iran buy a missile that has not been tested. One

    possible answer is that Iran has recognized that the BM-25's

    propulsion technology exceeds the capabilities of that used

    in the Shahab-3, and that acquiring such technology was very

    attractive. Iran wanted engines capable of using

    more-energetic fuels, and buying a batch of BM-25 missiles

    gives Iran a set it can work on for reverse engineering.

    This estimate would be consistent with the second stage of

    the Safir SLV using steering engines from the BM-25 missile. "

  17. adnim

    Well they

    best indict everyone that has read those documents then.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    If Assange was a US citizen or had done his business there, then they can have him for spying. Since he isn't and didn't, they can't. They can try, but the idea that any other country (even UK) would cooperate with them by extraditing him is ludicrous.

    All countries spy on all others if it suits them : if a country gives him up to the US then they are effectively declaring that their own spooks are subject to US law. What government in its right mind would say yes to that demand?

    Just about the only way to have had him would have been to persuade his country of origin/residence to declare the files as classified in their eyes and then doing him correctly under their laws. Too late for that now, but maybe next time?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He'll be in the Iron Bar Hotel until further notice

    With rape charges and no bail, Assange will likely be enjoying the Iron Bar Hotel until further notice.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    damn, i forgot a title .... again...

    The thing is, if you end up in court in the USA you are in serious trouble, the system appears to be more about revenge than rehabilitation. Someone has to pay and if the cap fits....

    Assange has not broken any US law on US soil so although he has pissed them off that’s still not a criminal act. Has Assange even set foot on US soil? How can you be charged with an offense of spying if you have never been to that country? Next thing I will be getting ghosted to the USA for jay-walking across the promenade at Blackpool..

    The worry comes when a "US friendly" government are prepared to ghost people to the USA on trumped up charges so they can reap revenge on them.

    On a side note, over Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, He had an appeal in process and was in very serious danger of winning his appeal as the evidence against him was really not that solid. Part of his 'early release and repatriation to Libya was that he dropped the appeal. The aeroplane he was charged with bombing was a British plane, blown up over Britain after taking off from a British airport. WTF has it got to do with America to have an enquiry into Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's release from a British prison? From the documents wikkileaks have published regarding this, it appears that although it was denied at the time, political pressure WAS placed on the British government to toss him out of the slammer. Surely as it is now in the public domain that this pressure did exist the US gov should be shouting from the highest rooftops about this? no,,,, they will keep Cameron in the back pocket for now to do thy bidding...

    For years a cold war was fought against the spread of communism from the east where we all should have been watching for the fascist army from the west!!

    1. corestore

      A British plane?

      Pan Am? British? American, packed full of Americans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        correction,,, for some reason i had it in my head it was a British aiways was PanAm 103.

        still, it hapend on british soil/airspace... its still the responsibility of the british authorities to deal with.

    2. M.A

      proove this wrong!!

      From what i understand Assange has NOT brocken any law all he has done is to publixh documents passed to him by someone else. Sa,e as any editor can and would do The U.S are oversteping the line by about 10 million miles.

      penguin cause Linux means freedom

    3. Mr Humphries
      Black Helicopters

      IANAL but ...

      Wikileaks has won about 100 court cases so far, some in the US. Some high-profile lawyers worked pro bono, but I imagine that there would be massive donations should a US prosecution ever eventuate.

      That "friendly government" you refer to could be the Australian one, although I doubt he'd go back there. The pathetic US lickspittle Prime Minister appointed herself judge, jury and executioner. I doubt, though, that the Australian judiciary would bend over in the same way. She must have been to too many re-education camp sessions at the Australian American Leadership Dialogue (and the Australia-Israel Leadership Dialogue). Any predictions as to what cushy multinational corporate jobs she'll get when her political career goes down the gurgler?

      The more obvious possibility is the Swedish government. Hopefully, British justice will nip this plot in the bud.

      Communism and fascism are just -isms (that give me schisms - God Lynn and Jay were good!) coming under the umbrella of totalitarianism. As Assange has remarked, there is no longer any natural alliance between Western liberals and the Military-Industrial-Media Complex. The link between the history and geography no longer holds.

  21. Stoneshop

    A hah

    "“We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature,”

    Because a plain, above-board, legal investigation would turn up nothing?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      rampant psyops

      Don't be silly, stoneshop. all he's saying is, it's a criminal act to investigate this matter in a natural place, such as Yellowstone National Park.

      The thing he DIDN'T say was WHO is being investigated - of course, they do have an ongoing investigation against Manning....

  22. Simon Redding

    WTF? Restricted access to his lawyer?

    Yeah, that's perfectly normal in the UK judicial system - a bloke accused of a minor sexual assault gets put in solitary and his lawyer has difficulty seeing him...

    Bending the UK judicial system to suit the USA is NOT acceptable.

  23. Carlo Graziani

    No, Seriously. No Indictment. Please Pay Attention

    Folks, you are not furnishing a very impressive display of news-story exegetic skill. Stories like this one appear for a reason. Please, pay attention:

    (1) The US Justice Department has announced an "ongoing" criminal investigation of Assange. Not an indictment, an "investigation".

    (2) A criminal investigation is not an indictiment.

    (3) If an indictment were brought the chances of an excruciatingly humiliating failure at trial are very high, under established US law. The DOJ knows this;

    (4) The evidence that the US DOJ is in fact in the process of bringing an indictment "soon" does not come from any official statement or any leaked information from a DOJ insider. It comes from Assange's attorney WHO IS IN NO POSITION TO KNOW WHETHER THIS IS IN FACT TRUE.

    (5) Assange's attorney *does* have an interest in keeping her client's martyr index as high as humanly possible. She can do this by giving gullible, lazy journalists a great-sounding news story that lights up their readerships' outrage. Cue spittle-flecked outbursts, letters to editor, contributions to legal funds, etc.

    Seriously, go read the story again. Really read it. There's no there there.

    I can't blame the attorney, since she's acting in her client's best interests. I can blame the journalists, however, who ought to make a more serious effort to get big stories right. And when reading the news, you folks should be applying your reason, before engaging your spittle glands.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nice try, Carlo

      Carlo Graziani said "Seriously, go read the story again. Really read it. There's no there there."


      "The House Judiciary Committee will hold a Dec. 16 hearing on the potential application of U.S. espionage laws in relation to WikiLeaks"


      "The meeting, officially entitled the "Hearing on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks," will address how espionage laws can be updated and effectively implemented in the digital era"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's not how the law works

      "If an indictment were brought the chances of an excruciatingly humiliating failure at trial are very high, under established US law."

      Established law is not an objective observer of trials which steps in when needed. It is something that a lawyer can cite to a judge. The judge can choose to ignore it, just as many judges ignore the written law in favour of case law no matter how clearly the latter contradicts the former.

      In short, if you can whip up enough of a hysteria against someone then you can have them lynched and buried long before anyone has the political will or power to stop you.

      The law is a human institution, to quote O, Brother Where Art Thou?, and as such it is quite capable of being run by human emotions rather than black and white text.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let the USoA go right ahead.

    I wouldn't be surprise they drag him unto USoA soil *somehow*, then charge him with whatever they please (expect there to be "mail fraud" in there too), and then declare that the first amendment doesn't apply to him because he's not a USoA natural born citizen. You know, give him the gitmo treatment. That gives a right clear message to everybody, which the various wrathful officials will insist spells out "don't thread on us" but to various people inside of the USoA and out will merely spell out a loud and clear challenge. Can you say "Streisand effect"? Now think the same thing, writ large.

    So far the USoA has excelled in amplifying the damage and polarisation over this both. As an excercise in damage control it's a textbook example of what not to do. Which either means the entire USoA government apparatus is collectively made up of a house of cards full of flaming idiots, or they're doing it on purpose. I'm not prepared to guess which, though if history has anything to say about it, the safe bet is "both".

  25. skwdenyer

    We're already well beyond worrying about legality or otherwise...

    For those who claim that it is not feasible that Assange could be charged by the US for committing crimes outside of the US, you are being rather naiive.

    For reference, look up the so-called NatWest Three. These men were indicted in the USA of offences which, if they occurred at all, did so on UK soil, and which were not actually illegal under UK law at the time.

    Sadly, the UK has entered into an extradition agreement with the USA which does not allow UK courts to consider the legality or otherwise of the charges, but merely must rubber-stamp any correctly-executed extradition request. That lack of legality is not germane!

    So all that is needed is an indictment and Assange will be toast. Hopefully, however, the UK's students will swing into action and attack the courts concerned!

  26. Deadly_NZ

    yer what?

    "Justice Department officials have declined to comment on their plans, but Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this week that his agency is doing everything it can to take Assange down."

    Hmm so I take it that when the prosecution fails the assassins will be out in force....

    Cant the Yanks just accept that they have been Caught out here and ...

    The horse has bolted

    But it is amusing to listen to all the old wrinkly american politicians getting all het up over this.. It must be the one thing thats finally woken some of the up from the stupor they are in

  27. JaitcH

    Maybe it's time for the 'Info Bomb File' to be opened?

    What many seem to be overlooking, whilst worrying about all the 'outing' of names of informers or American operatives, are the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people MURDERED by U.S. forces or their allies.

    Maybe these people don't count because they are citizens of a country in conflict / not my relative / different colour / don't speak English.

    What about the plain simple, unadorned murder of Reuters reporters by U.S. airborne troops?

    What about Canadian and British troops killed by 'friendly fire' by U.S. forces?

    Time to open the file, Assange and Wikileaks, the 'collateral damage' will be minimal compared to what the U.S. has done in the pursuit of oil under the guise of 'human rights' and 'democracy'!

  28. E 2

    @Carlo Graziani

    There is in Brit common law the requirement for prosecution to inform defense of the content of the case being made. This persisted in the USA legal code. I don't know that Italy or Germany have or ever had that idea however. Well that explains some history I suppose.

    Assange's lawyer should be informed, as a matter of proper legal protocol, by the prosecution, of how the prosecution intends to proceed.

    Of course, what Assange & co. have been up to is so intensely political that a show trial is not impossible...

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Black Helicopters


      Only when Assnage is actually charged and arraigned does the prosecution have to disclose their case and their evidence.

      Until then ... Assnage is going to be shitting in his pants.

      Only a fool didn't see this coming.

  29. E 2


    Clearly what we need is more gov't secrecy. It astounds me that we even let question period be reported. Seriously - can you not see the risk inherent in the public holding public servants accountable? And how are the secret police supposed to control us if their, uh, deliberations are not secret? We built democracy on the, ahem, right of secrecy of the politicians and bureaucrats did we not? The English revolution in the 1600's, the American revolution & constitution, the French Rights of Man - these were all intended to protect the rulers from interference from the serfs, pardon me, citizenry.

  30. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Nuts ahoy!

    A wave to the US Government (often pronounced: "Tal--eee--ban")

    Yes, YOU!

  31. Anonymous Coward

    I can well believe it

    “We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature”

    Is there ANY part of USA foreign policy that isn't criminal in nature?

    1. Tempest

      @ I can well believe it

      U. S. foreign policy (funding) includes condoms and some anti-AIDS campaigns.

  32. web_bod

    Hand him over or else...

    Anybody else think the timing of the "terrorist" attack in Stockholm is a little bit too convenient ?

    1. Goat Jam


      These people will stop at nothing

    2. david wilson


      >>"Anybody else think the timing of the "terrorist" attack in Stockholm is a little bit too convenient ?"

      Precisely what is it supposed to have achieved?

      What part does the incompetence involved in it play - is that all part of the Sinister Plan?

      It seems a strange thing to sacrifice either an agent or a dupe for minimal actual gain.

  33. Sarah Davis

    "hold people accountable"

    surely the whole reason why the U.S. gov is soiling it's pants is because it doesn't want those responsible for the crimes that have been exposed to be held accountable, that's why they're going after Assange instead. The Good Ol' U.S gov, if their laws don't fit they just make up new ones.

    (mines the one with the video tape of U.S. troops murdering a bunch of Iraqi kids, and the U.S gov plans for 911 in the pocket)

  34. Miek

    Someone mentioned the End of Democracy ?

  35. Miek
    Thumb Down

    Just Watch

    Just watch the UK fold like a paper tissue when we receive an extradition request from the US.

  36. mark l 2 Silver badge

    political crime?

    AFAIK spying is a political crime so not covered under the UK-US extrodition treaty so unless Assange were to visit the US then they cant extrodite him to the US anyway to face prosecution.

    Of course the US will probably charge him with some sort of terrorist crime so they can get around this and get him extrodited. No wonder US foreign policy is in such a state. What next they want to extrodite all the coffee shop owners from the Netherlands for selling weed to US citizens when they visit Amserdam because that would be illegal under US law

  37. Richard 120

    Team America World Police

    Fuck Yeah!

    Do they watch these films and think "yeah! That's how it should be" completely missing the humour?

  38. dfgraham

    International Law 101

    In order to extridite him in any kind of legal way, A) the US needs a treaty with the UK or Sweden, and this is key the be B) they can prove that the crime he is accused of is also a crime in the UK/Sweden. So is it a crime to release diplomatic cables from the US in the UK/Sweden espeacially when they where sent to you, and you didn't hack anything? And C) lastly there must be reciprocity. The US would have to hand over US citizens to Sweden under the same cirmustances. So under international law the US is hosed. However I don't think anyone really experts the US to follow international law.

  39. proto-robbie
    Big Brother

    Room lol

    Now Julian, we really do appreciate the efforts you are making to promote world peace. Here, in the Ministry of Truth we have a little room for the most articulate of our citizens. We can help out with that little Swedish situation, incidentally. We find that the truth about things is so often lost in rumour and translation - don't you think so?

    Have you heard that old saw "The pen is mightier than the sword"? We don't find it so; shall we see what you think? Do come with me...

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Washington Post article

    I wasn't going to bother posting, but then I thought - this BS is why JA is doing this stuff...

    > Founder Julian Assange recently posted a Tweet from one of his supporters declaring: "The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops."

    Neglecting to mention that it was the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow, who said that

    > Assange pioneered a new form of cyber sabotage.


    > Assange has threatened America with the cyber equivalent of thermonuclear war.


    > In recent days, WikiLeaks has had trouble staying online - in part because governments have been pressuring companies

    Note the plural on "government" there, this makes it sound all big and international, actually the French government did try and have a word with a single hosting provider, before a judge told them to forget it - and this is the only other example the writer provides, to support his international-sounding plural.

    > kicked WikiLeaks off of its servers after an aide to Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, complained.

    Actual gloating that the government can violate the First Amendment, shame on you

    > "You are either with us, or you are with WikiLeaks."

    Hey wait, I've heard that before... when you were trying to convince us that Saddam had WMD....

    > a Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the United States does in fact have the offensive capabilities in cyberspace to take down WikiLeaks

    Oh look an interesting bit, Pentagon admits cyber weapons capability...

    > If "one guy with a laptop" can shut down WikiLeaks even temporarily, imagine what the 1,100 cyber-warriors at U.S. Cyber Command could do.

    ...with approx 1100 staff

    > the perfect cover for the United States to deliver the coup de grace to WikiLeaks secretly, with no fingerprints

    This is encouraging an illegal act, and is thus a crime to print

    > Imagine the impact on WikiLeaks's ability to distribute additional classified information if its systems were suddenly and mysteriously infected by a worm that would fry the computer of anyone who downloaded the documents.

    Again the writer is encouraging illegal acts

    > Marc A. Thiessen, a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute,

    I see, the AEI. All, remember well, AEI suck, hard, they are a professional US lobby firm and have some very bad form.

    1. PT

      @Washington Post article

      "Joe Lieberman ..... government ..... First Amendment"

      While he demonstrably does sit on some committees, there's legitimate doubt over whether Joe Lieberman is actually a member of the AMERICAN government. More likely his concern is for the potential embarrassment of some foreign government or other.

  41. Diskcrash

    Seems odd that

    America condemns a country for wanting to execute a person in an Islamic country for blasphemy and then wants to execute a person disrespecting their laws.

    Or, that America condemns China for imprisoning a political dissident that has won the Nobel peace prize but now wants to imprison what is in effect a foreign political dissident.

    America needs to realize that if they want to be the beacon of democracy and peace that they can't use authoritarian and dictatorial rules and practices to achieve it. The good guys are the good guys because they do what is right even if it is hard. The bad guys are the ones that claim to have to do bad things in order to make things right.

    It is also interesting that there is more uproar from the US about the documents than there was about the journalists being murdered by the American gunship video that was also released by Wikileaks. I guess it is more of a problem to embarrass a politician by revealing trivial messages, gossip and general banalities than to show people and children being mowed down by the American military.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    It comes to mind....

    That if Attorney General Eric Holder REALLY was honest - then how come he hasn't dangled George W. Bush on the end of a rope, along with Tony Blair and John Howard, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Oh I forgot - millions of dead don't count for anything, but being able to lie your way through everything does.

    Eric Holder = Fraud Master.

  43. Tim Toh

    What about KGB?

    It seems quite funny to me, to charge and request extradition of foreign citizens who got second-hand information? What about KGB handlers, Stassi and all foreign organisations specifically created to spy on US? Then Russia would request the extradition in-masse of all CIA personal, whether in US or overseas. Then North Korea would request the extradition of Hillary Clinton as the end recipient of all secret information, and so on.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If they get there hands on him and subject him to something like controlled drowning (Waterboarding) I guess the USA would be able to say they have their confession. Of course the illegal attacks on Iraq and the attacks on other innocent civilians (collateral damage) is OK because it is in the name of the great USA freedom and democracy.

    I liked the earlier comment

    Making law up to fit your goals... one of the distinguishing features of raging fascist/socialist regimes.

    Sadly it is true and well publicised policies/events during the last administration by Bush eroded USA standing in the world. You have to earn respect and if the USA want to totally lose what little is left. carry on this ridiculous course. Laws and punishment have to be seen to be fair. Anyhow, the worst thing that will happen is that the files will be decrypted anyhow to all and sundry. This will be no different to what is happening now except ALL the files will be released in one go.

    The real solution is to brush up on their own security (3 Million readers of confidential docs is way too many!) and take another read of the American constitution and the fairness to all that was intended. If you balance on the edge of a knife or policy precipice, sometimes you have to be prepared to fall off and swallow a bitter bill. The USA f***d up, Get over it.

    Assange has shown up the world power broker for what it really is. Either make amends or continue to dig deeper because all they are digging, a deeper hole by this current course of reaction.

    What is the difference between China's reaction to opponents and the USA's reaction to things they do not want other people to read about them?

    Very little it seems.

    1. david wilson

      @AC 18:22

      >>"I liked the earlier comment"

      >>"Making law up to fit your goals... one of the distinguishing features of raging fascist/socialist regimes."

      In this case, aren't they talking about trying to use existing laws?

      If not, it's pretty hard to bring in new legislation and make it retroactive.

      If they're trying to argue that existing law does cover it, then they're not making law up.

      And in any case, doesn't almost *any* kind of government bring in (ie 'make up' ) laws to fit particular circumstances or objectives?

      You can certainly say the particular objectives a government has are ones you think are wrong, but surely about the only system where a government *couldn't* bring in new laws to fit its goals would be one where it wasn't allowed to have any goals, where there was a direct democracy, and every single law was voted on by everyone.

      Any 'representative democracy' has a government with goals of its own, where laws continually get 'made up' and altered to fit those goals, and where people periodically vote for the representatives who they think (or guess) will have the best (or least bad) goals.

  45. Giles Jones Gold badge


    It's not spying to be given data and then release it to everyone.

    Spying is often deception, you are in an organisation but secretly passing information to someone else. It's all done secretly, not like Wikileaks who let the world know.

    If anyone is the spy it is the person who leaked it in the first place. Journalists get leaked information at times and they aren't ever charged with spying.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Full of shit

    I live in America. It's generally a really nice place to live, and Americans are generally a very nice people. Sadly, their leaders appear to to be increasingly full of shit. It would seem, at least to the casual viewer, that 9/11 actually worked with respect to disrupting rational thought on the part of US gov. The organization no longer appears to be able to see the big picture, or even adhere to the principles it claims to function by. No wonder nobody really listens to the US these days. If they don't practice what they preach, why should anyone else.

    It's a genuine shame.

  47. Turtle

    For what we *must* be grateful.

    All I can say is, that we should all be grateful that these learned legal minds are taking some time from their thriving and lucrative legal practices to explain the law to us.

  48. Rogerborg

    Congress shall make no law abriding the freedom of speech, or of the press

    ...unless it's, like, totally necessary to protect freedom and democracy and shit.

    There's still a fascist majority in the Supremes, but it won't even get there - he'll be denied the right to appeal by some upwardly mobile creatures in a lower court.

    Well, enjoy your martyrdom, St Assange. You've certainly worked hard to get it.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Time for the nuclear option ?

    This smells so bad i'd be inclined to use the nuclear option and depending on the next hearing result , give the password to the file and just let the USA deal with their mess.

    Enough is enough. I beleive the WL boys were truly very patient and responsible already.

    But looking at the boys back in the US, i believe they haven't learned their lesson yet.

    The information available on a variety of subjects and matters is vast. They can either clean up their act or just keep being bashed.The USA is no innocent victim.They are the agressors , the spies, they are the ones who leaked the documents.the people that cheat , lie and assassinate. Time to face the bully and bring it down ? We will see. But certainly they don't seem to learn anything about public relations.

    David DID bring Goliath down.

  50. Sam Liddicott

    support the dissident

    You can support the Chinese dissident Lui Xiaobo just by thinking about him, but if you want to support the American dissident Brandley Manning in his fight for peace, justice and the American way of life (OK, I'm english in england but I can support the idea of peace and justice becoming the ruling traits in any bully nation) you need to support the legal battle that is taking place. It's not "Che Guevara needs some fighters" - this is the... USA - you do need to pay the lawyers.

    So that's your choice - pay some cash to support the legal fight of the American dissident, or be as yellow and afraid as the fearful oppressed chinese in communist china.

    I coughed up some money to help the great American dissident.

    There ought to be a yearly Bradley Manning peace prize for those who fight against oppressive regimes.

  51. bill 36

    hang the b'stard

    Put him in front of a Muslim jury and lets find out if he's guilty or not.

    Like i said in a previous post, the Americans have been caught with their trousers down in the park and in the past week, they have switched on every defence mechanism they can think of to try and shut the gates.

    Too late, the leaks confirm what many have long suspected but couldn't prove.

    Where's the "pissing into the wind" icon?

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Life as we know it....

    Oh hark at you all!

    Squabbling over what is legal and what is not. The finest minds on the planet, or at least the most logical ones, all trying to second guess a system that is not in any way pro-you. The vast majority of you are thinking inside the box. No blue sky thinking going on around here.

    Even if you believe in Capitalism, to the nth degree, you are being conned here:

    You pay your taxes, your money, and your public servants go about their business. They are paid by you. They sever you. Yet you are not allowed to know about their cables, their discussions, their meetings, their musings, or their actions.

    You paid for it all. You pay your taxes. You support these folks. And when their actions are revealed, they kick up hell.

    Time to tell your public servants that secrecy has no place in a humane society.

    Or just carry on having a brain fart over the legality of any kind of prosecution.

    This is a symptom of your complacency.

    Carry on. As you were. Nothing to see here...

  53. Heathroi

    Helpfully I would like

    To point out the last government official that was caught stealing documents, a Mr Samuel "Sandy' Berger, who in 1997, in the words of Nancy Pelosi, was the 'pointman' for the Chinese Government as well being Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

    The weight of his various duties probably caused him to forget to inform the President, (who also may have had trouble remembering things) that plans for US nuclear warheads had made way into the hands of the Chinese for over a year.

    Then in 2003, was found to have removed 4 copies of a classified report from the National Archives. (from Wikipedia, as i cant be bothered typing it all out)........ 'After a long investigation, Justice Department prosecutors determined that Berger only removed classified copies of data stored on hard drives stored in the National Archives, and that no original material was destroyed. Berger eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material on April 1, 2005. Berger was fined $50,000 [18], sentenced to serve two years of probation and 100 hours of community service, and stripped of his security clearance for 3 years. The Justice Department initially said Berger stole only copies of classified documents and not originals. But the House Government Reform Committee later revealed that an unsupervised Berger had been given access to classified files of original, uncopied, uninventoried documents on terrorism. Several Archives officials acknowledged that Berger could have stolen any number of items and they “would never know what, if any, original documents were missing.”

    On December 20, 2006, Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that Berger took a break to go outside without an escort. "In total, during this visit, he removed four documents ... Mr. Berger said he placed the documents under a trailer in an accessible construction area outside Archives 1 (the main Archives building)." Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

    On May 17, 2007, Berger relinquished his license to practice law as a result of the Justice Department investigation. Saying, "I have decided to voluntarily relinquish my license." He added that, "While I derived great satisfaction from years of practicing law, I have not done so for 15 years and do not envision returning to the profession. I am very sorry for what I did, and I deeply apologize." By giving up his license, Berger avoided cross-examinination by the Bar Counsel regarding details of his thefts."

  54. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    Stand together or fall.

    As goes Assange so goes us all. All these governments an corporations are acting together as one entity now for total power over all of us. This must end before it goes any further.

  55. david wilson

    I'm really surprised

    That no supporters seem to have spotted the pun potential, and started making "Don't monkey with Assange" badges.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Denial is not a legal defense

    Some folks seem to be having quite a struggle with reality including Assange. Perhaps his paid liars should advise him that denial won't prevent prosecution? It would appear that many folks including Assange are in for a very disappointing outcome to his behavior.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Universal laws

    So if I get busted for speeding on the streets of London I should expect a fine from the Department of Motor Vehicles as well as our chums in Swansea? I mean speeding is a crime in the US too right?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "prosecute news agencies for publishing classified documents"

    Joe Lieberman is the biggest pro-Israel shill in congress. Probably the reason the US is reacting to the leaks like this this time around is because there's something bad on US-Israel in those documents.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wait wait wait...

    So if you come into contact with classified information, and you discover that the government is lying and misleading, and then you decide to make it public, you can be charged as a "spy"?

    I do not agree with how Wikileaks operates, but there are bigger things at stake here!

    1. david wilson


      >>"So if you come into contact with classified information, and you discover that the government is lying and misleading, and then you decide to make it public, you can be charged as a "spy"?"

      You'd probably be on far safer ground if you selectively leaked only things which showed *criminal* behaviour by the government or its agencies.

      That at least might lead to action for past crimes and reductions in future ones.

      However, it's pretty much understood that when it comes to things like diplomacy, what's said in public is necessarily not going to be the full picture, so everyone can confidently assume that they won't be being told the whole truth, and that some of the time they'll be being given misleading information (like a leader suspected of involvement in killings being applauded as a Force for Good if they seem to be the best option to avoid a civil war).

      Actually *proving* that deception just for the sake of it would add very little to the sum of human knowledge even if it may be entertaining, and having it proven isn't at all likely to make future diplomacy an open affair.

      Leaking more information than necessary is likely to undermine a public-interest defence - it's highly unlikely a trial would be conducted from a starting point that all information should be freely available.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Actually, yes.

      If you come in contact with protectively marked information (the formal UK term for "classified" information) the stuff you hold is under the Official Secrets Act.

      I don't quite know what position you're in if you find it on the train (the traditional route for UK information disclosure, cough), but if you had to sign the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to gain access you are committing a crime by releasing such information to anyone without due authorisation. They are not *your* secrets to give away - the same principle as if you've been told something personal by someone else.

      If you get caught, you will be convicted, and it is only at this point that your motive starts to matter.

      If you can show that you exhausted every other method to report a misdeed, and that you took care to limit the disclosure to the problem at hand you can apply for whistleblower status and thus have the sentence reduced or even commuted.

      This is the precise problem with Wikileaks - not only is their release process not able to demonstrate that care (the volume is too high to ensure the complexities of collateral damage are dealt with) but they made matters worse by by stating they will just release all information (unfiltered) in one go if any of that club is harmed. That's plain blackmail, and is not going to make a difference. If anything, it hardens determination of those who don't like Wikileaks.

      Assange has thus put himself in a position where he is not just failing to provide the public "service" to whistleblowers that Wikileaks apparently set out to do, he has placed himself in a position where he can be charged with collaborating with crime in a way that can be made to stick.

      If they manage that, Assange is going to be in a world of trouble - he is annoying people that have never quite learned the art of diplomacy to a usable degree..

  60. Bob 18
    Paris Hilton

    Military Security --- The Next Oxymoron

    I think our government would do better to spend its efforts improving the security of its classified networks. From what I've read, American military security is pitiful compared to what I've experienced in the corporate realm. And if Wikileaks could get so much classified information --- what do our ACTUAL enemies have in their hands?

  61. BillG

    Don't Shoot the Messanger

    Let me tell you what I know.

    1. Assange isn't being treated as a journalist (someone who publishes with the intent of serving the public interest). This week Assange is about to be classified by the US government as a SPY - that is, he INTENTIONALLY SOUGHT classified information with the DELIBERATE INTENTION of inflicting harm on the United States. Geez, his own statements have backed that up! It's like he deliberately made himself guilty. If he had kept his freakin' mouth shut things wouldn't be so bad for him!

    2. Also, Operation Payback has kinda forced the government's hand. If the USA doesn't prosecute Assange as a spy it could be inferred that Payback succeeded. If the purpose of Payback is to support Assange, then the best and only way to counter Payback is to prosecute Assange.

    If you don't like #2 that's too bad - but prosecuting Assange as a spy is really the US government's ONLY option. PAYBACK FORCED ASSANGE'S ARREST.

    Already the US press is reporting that some compromised PCs participating in Payback are being denied internet access by their ISPs. Also, a high school kid in Oregon was arrested and his computer equipment seized for actively participating in Payback by using LOIC.

    What really frightens me about all of this is the short-sightedness of Operation Payback. It has the dangerous potential to achieve the exact opposite of what it wants. It was mentioned on some of the US Sunday morning news shows that Operation Payback might be used by politicians as an excuse to legislate stronger controls and government monitoring of an individual's internet access, not just in the USA but in other countries. This would be a catastrophic backfire of Payback..

    You have to consider that, with Christmas coming up, economies can't afford website outages. The enforcement is going to get more vigorous. Obama's best best to protect the economy is to direct his Justice Department, and the FBI and CIA, to go after Payback participants both in and out of the USA. This has the potential to get way out of hand.

    1. david wilson


      >>"This week Assange is about to be classified by the US government as a SPY - that is, he INTENTIONALLY SOUGHT classified information with the DELIBERATE INTENTION of inflicting harm on the United States. Geez, his own statements have backed that up! It's like he deliberately made himself guilty. If he had kept his freakin' mouth shut things wouldn't be so bad for him!"

      I wonder what the situation with Bradley Manning was (assuming he was the source)?

      Did he copy all the information before ever getting in touch with Wikileaks?

      If not, and if he was encouraged to get more, would that actually affect the legal situation?

      >>"Already the US press is reporting that some compromised PCs participating in Payback are being denied internet access by their ISPs."

      Wonder why it took so long for that to happen - surely it makes sense for that to be standard practice, not least since it gives PC owners a chance to get their machines cleaned and protected, and maybe saves them from identity theft, etc.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    May, 2010: Obama signs bill to promote press freedom abroad:

    Do as we say, not as we do.

    No US dog food for the US govt. Oh no. Freedom is for the other guys, all our dirty little secrets are really soooper doooper important and anyone who publishes them is a terrorist.

    It's questionable whether the US could do any more damage to its image if they adopted black uniforms with skulls on and roman style, raised arm salutes.

    1. BillG

      What's the Difference, Cpt?

      @cap'n, what's the difference between being press, and being a spy? INTENTION! What does that tell you?

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikileaks - The Movie

    All this sounds like a plot of a movie... Anyone in Hollywood made a movie deal with Assange yet?

  64. Anonymous Coward


    These leaks have done no damage to US security, they have simply embarrassed it.

    But let's face it. The US reputation for being the 'good guys' disappeared not long after they started two wars based on made up evidence and instituted a global network of torture gulags.

    Simply invent your own definition of torture, and your own interpretations of what constitutes combatants, and hey presto, you can wire people's nuts up or drown them 'til the cows come home and still claim the high moral ground.

    So it is hardly surprising that when someone dares to challenge the US's right to conduct its dirty dealings in secret by exercising the right of free speech that the US claims to champion, he is fitted up for the most dubious 'sex crime' ever, held in solitary confinement in London with limited access even to lawyers, while the US no doubt runs roughshod over any due process to ensure he ends his days in a US torture gulag somewhere.

    But rest assured, all this hypocrisy really is keeping us safe from the 'terrists'.

    And we're supposed to believe things are going to be worse in 20 years when the Chinese are in charge and telling us what to do?

    Things look pretty similar to China already if you ask me.

  65. raivn


    "We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature"

    I completely agree.



    There's something in those cables that USG desperately don't want people to see.

    Sadly, expecting the UK Government might protect the right to free speech was probably the second unfortunate mistake Assange has made, after his reckless encounters in Sweden.

    I hope the Courts here prevent his extradition to Sweden or USA, but I'm not confident.

  67. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Title goes here...

    Bets the US will schedule Assange's espionage trial to begin on May 3rd?

    The UN has proclaimed this date to be "World Press Freedom Day", and the 2011 celebration is to be held in Washington DC.

    In other news, if gubmints don't want their dirty laundry aired in public, they shouldn't put them on a USB stick & leave it on the bus!

  68. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    «First Amendment implications» ?

    Who cares ? The first ten amendments to the US Constitution - with the possible exception of a distorted interpretation of the Second Amendment - were tossed out long ago. Empires in decline which are engaged in continual wars of aggression abroad can hardly afford civil liberties at home....


  69. Sirius Lee

    Fighting fire with fire

    “We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature,”

    You'd think the law officers would keep it legal. It would be interesting to know in what way their investigation is criminal.

  70. MyHeadIsSpinning
    Big Brother


    What next, goose-stepping tea-baggers?

    The USA should wipe the egg off it's face, and move on.

  71. Sarah Davis

    Don't shoot the whistle blower !!

    It's staggering that some people (who appear to all be American) are so stupid as to point the finger at Assange saying he has committed a crime whilst completely ignoring the huge crimes that they claim he is responsible for exposing in Wikileaks. PRIORITIES people!!

    Mines the one that has a lynching rope with's name on it in the pocket

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Nope - wrong principle.

      Data theft is a crime, especially of classified information. You may be sort of "excused" for that crime if you can prove that your motive was to highlight another crime, but you start with being a criminal.

      Oh, and you have to be very specific about the why even before the disclosure, you can't just hand over a filing cabinet and state that you suspect something wrong to be in there - that would be like shooting every 10th person in Oxford Street and claiming you have reduced crime.

      Statistically you will be correct, but it still won't serve much as an excuse for the collateral damage..

  72. Anonymous Coward

    Equal in the eyes of the law

    Debatable sexual aggression in a foriegn country = Solitary Detention

    Debatable murder in a foriegn country = Release on bail.

    Simple eh?

  73. The main man

    I don't think he should be indicted

    It will only make him a matyr which is what he and his supporters want. From what i understand, it will be very difficult for the American authorities to make any charges stick because technically, he did not steal these materials himself. It was handed to him and Wikileaks by Manning (whom they have abandoned to rot in jail)

  74. IceMage

    He had it coming

    You take a shit on a bear's face, and you're going to get mauled. He had it coming.

    1. pp

      Ye ...

      who cares about rights; petty vengeance is the quality I look for in democratic governments; I guess you're with me.

      Like how if you swear at a policeman you should expect him to turn up at your house the next day with a baseball bat.

      I quite like not living in an openly fascist police state void of rights; lets keep it that way ay.

  75. Graham Wilson

    @DS 1 - DS 1's unfavourable views about Assange are poles apart from the majority of replies.





    DS 1's unfavourable views about Assange are poles apart from the majority who've replied to this El Reg post. However, his opinions about Assange are very cogently argued* and they encompass many of the core arguments espoused by Assange's main critics. Whether you're for or against Assange, his reply deserves to be read.

    I do not intend to comment on the points raised in his reply, rather I want to draw the reader's attention to how diametrically opposed they are to those who favour Assange. In microcosm, these El Reg replies have the same degree of extreme polarisation that we are now seeing across Western democracies in many important issues, the US being the most prominent country although the UK and Australia etc. are not far behind. Thirty or forty years ago, such divergent worldviews only existed between countries and differing political systems--capitalism and communism for instance--now such wide divergences of view are commonplace within democracies. In fact, we have to go back to the 1930s before we see anything comparable.

    Whether it's health care, education, taxes, abortion, creation science, climate change, immigration, pharmaceutical patents, ACTA, WIPO--intellectual property and copyright, or whether we go to war or not, or whether governments should share secrets with other governments yet exclude their own citizenry, a common consensus is unlikely to exist nowadays. Instead, polarisation over many issues has hit such heights that democracy is becoming unworkable: elections are no longer arbiters as losers simply refuse to accept policies decided upon by the majority and they deliberately set about to publicly undermine and subvert them by every means possible (the US Tea Party's antics for example).

    I won't speculate why this extreme divergence of opinion has taken place, but with the lack of consensus across so many fronts, facts indicate that the US is now essentially ungovernable and other countries are moving this way. For example, the vehement opposition to Obama on just about everything has made him a lame duck president: sure, he was popularly elected but a common widespread consensus on policy did not follow, in fact, opponents have actively undermined his agenda.

    Democracy, more than any other political system, requires people of good will to cooperate for it to work. Once, minor abuses to the democratic process such as an official's abuse of power or trust, would have little bearing on the general will of the citizenry, but with the ongoing and widespread erosion of consensus on so many fronts there's ample evidence that democracy is beginning to crack at the seams. (Inevitable compromises leave too many citizens unsatisfied--as the saying goes, try to please all and you'll please none).

    Combine that lack of a widespread consensus with the increasing complexities (and often questionably undemocratic workings) of modern governments such as increasing government secrecy, carefully managed spin and propaganda from politicians and government officials, politicians found rorting the kitty, governments in secret deals with corporations, the starting of questionable wars etc., thus it's not surprising that citizens in Western democracies have developed an almost universal disrespect for and distrust of their political leaders.

    Into this existing mess came 911, and tragically, the terrorists won much more out of it than Western leaders would ever admit although probably not in ways they expected. The terrorists might not have achieved their stated aims but by enlarging existing cracks in democracy, we citizens have lost much. We've lost freedoms that were already tenuous, we're subject to extra surveillance and monitoring, air travel is almost unbearable and so on. In response, our democracies have not behaved well. Those in power, usually under the cover of secrecy, have had no compunction in deviating from the Jeffersonian democratic model. Take Abu Ghraib as just one instance. All up, things are considerably worse now in Western democracies than they were before 911.

    Thus, it's hardly surprising that all this is fertile ground for the formation of organizations such as WikiLeaks. Moreover, had it not been for 911 then WikiLeaks would never have gained access to these US diplomatic documents.

    In reality, WikiLeaks is not the cause of the trouble; rather it's a combination by-product of this democratic malaise and a new Internet way of doing politics. Blaming WikiLeaks totally when it's at the end of events is simply hypocrisy and or false logic. However, it is by no means neutral, it's a political player as any other, which is what anyone would expect. The fact that it fortuitously came across a goldmine of information through the incompetence of others then published it is exactly what any number of newsagencies would have and have done (witness the NYT et al).

    Criticism from governments of WikiLeaks and Assange is exactly what we would expect. Moreover, it will be relentless but seemingly reasonable propaganda that will 'manufacture consent' in the eyes of the citizenry to legitimise the government's future actions as well as to neutralise the damage of its monumental incompetence. As they regroup, expect to see governments use every trick imaginable from the classic propaganda textbook,, and then some. It will be very dirty and unethical.

    Probably at no other time in history has the democratic service--this 'undemocratic' part of democracy--been exposed so comprehensively. It, along with the often-secret process of negotiating international treaties, is out of bounds to ordinary citizens. Moreover, the process ratifying treaties through parliaments is a sham, as parliamentary members are rarely a part of the negotiating process, thus in practice they've little option but to vote to ratify. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, once signed, treaties are forever locked out of the political process, changing them is essentially impossible.

    Although the contents of some of WikiLeaks documents will be of interest, what's absolutely relevant is proof positive of how the diplomatic systems actually work. Although common knowledge before the leak, insight was gained only through insinuation and innuendo, thus always plausibly deniable by the diplomatic protagonists, now its operational methodology is undeniable. Thus, it's possible the diplomatic process could be forced to account for itself in the political domain which is open and public. Essentially, the leaks have changed the paradigm, in future diplomats may have to explain their actions in public, secrecy may no longer be the order of the day.

    What's at stake here is nothing less than the power and authority of the elites who actually run the world. The fact these leaks have become known to popular culture means that the game play-out will be as dirty as it gets. People who have power usually fight to keep it.

    It's just possible that what we are witnessing here with WikiLeaks, the protests and retaliation through the denial of service attacks, and the threat of the Pirate Bay co-founder to start a P2P-based DNS to take on (bypass) ICANN might just be the beginnings of a new political process. If that ever eventuates, then Assange will end up as either a martyr or political hero.

    Maybe we've been cursed to live in interesting times.


    * As are DS 1's other posts (this writer always presents well-reasoned arguments in El Reg).

  76. Red_Eeps

    Two ways to skin the swine ?

    Question. If you have fifteen or so credit cards, and you display them on a sidewalk in a large metropolitan area and beside each credit card you put the corresponding pin number in bold letters, who is ultimately responsible for the use of that information ?

    Nothing is secret in the hands of humans, we've know this forever.

    I smell a rat. And that rat has a big "G" written all over it.

    Okay, okay. So the horse escapes from the barn in the middle of the night, just when you think you are going to settle in for a little 'action' ? And you want to shoot the horse, why ? Cut the guy some slack and get to the real source and stop wasting everyone's time and $$$.

    I'd hate to be the one to tell you the real culprit here is not Mr. Assange. Wake up and smell the print while the ink is still wet, please.

    Guess everyone who has been or is currently connected with the military, every branch, is guilty at one time or another. How many people have 'phoned home' before, during or after a tour ? And knowingly or in some cases un-knowingly provided sensitive information ?

    How about a more secure barn door ? Oh yes, don't say a word to the horse 'else it may be in court next year too.

  77. Graham Wilson

    @Graham Wilson - 11th Para - stupid typo!

    11th Para - stupid typo.

    "Probably at no other time in history has the DEMOCRATIC service--this 'undemocratic' part of democracy--been exposed so comprehensively."

    Should read:

    "Probably at no other time in history has the DIPLOMATIC service--this 'undemocratic' part of democracy--been exposed so comprehensively."

  78. T J

    He's Australian

    So how about the bit where he's not an American citizen. I imagine thats a bit of a legal roadhump there.

  79. nashguy

    Who was responsible for controlling access to these documents?

    Regardless of what you think of Mr. Assange, how did someone get access to all these documents so readily? Why isn't someone's head (or multiple someone's heads) on the proverbial platter from within the administration for not preventing this?

    Were there no controls on these files? Seems like what happens when someone hacks into a retail operation and steals credit card numbers. Yes, those who use those numbers have committed crimes. But those who didn't secure them adequately have some culpability, too!

    My 2 cents.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem here...

    ... is that he is not a US citizen.

    While the US court system "tries" to give the same rights to non-citizens as they do to citizens there is usually a difference in the amount of "rights" that are given.

    The will most likely go for espionage on Assange for purposes of extradition, then once he is in the US he will be charged under terrorism laws and end up in a prison somewhere out of sight and eventually out of mind, without trial.

    As for the PVT who leaked the information, while I am for letting the public know what happens in government, this is and can be much better done through legal means.

    He would have probably been better off if he was a civilian who leaked the information then an active service member.

    This PVT has basically ruined his life, as he could easily be charged under espionage, and under the Uniform Military Code of Justice Article 106a Section C subsections 2 and 3, he could very easily get a death penalty.

    1. david wilson


      >>"He would have probably been better off if he was a civilian who leaked the information then an active service member."

      He'd have been far better off if all he'd leaked was clear evidence of illegal acts where most people would have agreed there was a clear public interest.

      Even if he still ended up getting convicted, it'd be much harder to make an example of someone who could portray themselves as purely trying to stop serious wrongdoing.

  81. two00lbwaster

    If he's a spy...

    for whom does he spy?

    Simple enough question.

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