Prosecution or Protection?
This post is about the Grand Jury’s indictment against Julian Assange and the Federal Agents Affidavit for probable cause. It’s a retired police detective’s viewpoint. It corrects the bogus fake news reports and presents legal questions.
First and foremost.CBS and others that claim Assange is being charged with 18 separate charges/counts are incorrect. According to the indictment he is charged with only one (two part) count. Assange Indictment – download
However the indictment cites case information that contains over 20 supporting individual reasons for an indictment but there is only one actual criminal count.
The Government asserts that the international Wikileaks organization is synonymous with Julian Assange personally. However, the government did not show in the indictment documents that Assange personally received the documents. In probability he did receive them but in a court of law “probability” is weak.
The Government’s affidavit contains much information that was used in the prosecution of Bradley Manning who was a government employee and had signed a “non disclosure” agreement. Manning was sentenced and after serving 7 years, President Obama commuted his sentence and set him free. Manning’s situation is not the same as Julian Assange’s situation.Assange-Affidavit for arrest
“Assange indictment Count One: “Knowingly accessing a computer without authorization and exceeding authorized access to obtain information that has been determined “secret” by the US Government pursuant to an Executive order.” and “Intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain information in furtherance of a criminal act..
There are no other counts in this particular indictment and there are only two laws that the government is claiming were violated.
Title 18 USC sec.641, 793 (c) and 793 (e)(c) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter; or(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or
Section 371, 1030(a)(1), 1030(a)(2) 1030(c)(2)(B)(ii).) Conspiracy to Defraud the Government.
It all seems a bit confusing. The government is alleging that Assange and Manning conspired to and did illegally gain control of US Government Records by gaining access to or “hacking” government computers but the evidence of this seems to fall entirely on Bradly Manning not Julian Assange. Count one has little to do with the distribution of unauthorized Government Records. However the cited USC Title 18 laws do cover these infractions as well as the conspiracy and do not include any computer hacking laws.
There is no allegation of espionage or spying by Assange.
The backbone of the governments case is precarious. The Government alleges that Assange encouraged and conspired with Bradly Manning (a military intelligence analyst ) to hack into the Federal Government computers. The Government also alleges that there was some sort of unwritten agreement between Manning and Assange to do this. They claim that Assange conspired with Manning to hack into a government computer and then did hack into a government computer. However in the Governments own affidavit for the arrest of Assange, the government states that they don’t actually know if Manning or Assange hacked into the government’s computer system and claim that “circumstantial evidence” indicates that they did hack the computers. The Government further states that it cannot be proven than anyone hacked into the computer system.
The Government states that the information or files received by Wikileaks were designated as classified or secret and allegedly were passed to Wikileaks via “Jabber” (Jabber.org a free open source messenger service) and a Wikileaks cloud drop box.
An obvious weakness in the case is that the Government alleges that Manning did not give the information directly to Assange but rather to “Agents of Wikileaks” who are not named in the indictment. The government explains that the damaging information to the US government was published by the New York Times and that the Taliban notified the Times that they had read the information.
The Government also states that the files that contained information about Guantanamo Bay Cuba also caused damage to the US Government. But the Government acknowledges that they have no proof that their computers were actually hacked. And they acknowledge that Manning had a clearance to view classified documents and did not state whether or not the documents passed to Wikileaks were legally available to Manning..
But the violation of law allegations against Assange do not pertain to hacking or tampering with Government property (computers). These laws deal with the gaining and possession of and distribution of material that could damage the US Government.
It’s apparent that the Government had only one case against Assange and that was the distribution of government records but in the initial probable cause affidavit to the court they made it appear as if the issue was hacking computers when in fact they did not know if their computers were hacked or not.
This is where it gets sticky and involves the First Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees freedom of the press and opens the door to other issues as well. Issues that do not favor the US Government.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise hereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people, peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.“
Some of the issues exposed by Wikileaks are Guantanamo Bay, the Clinton emails, the illegal FISA Court warrants, etc; etc; etc;
Consider this. In 2010 when the Government alleges Assange broke the law, none of the above unfavorable government issues such as spying on Trump’s campaign and fraud against a FISA Court had all come to light. The government’s probable cause affidavit for the arrest of Julian Assange was not until 2017 after the election of Donald Trump as president and after some of the above issues began to surface.