Thread: US preparing to seek the arrest of Julian Assange

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    Default US preparing to seek the arrest of Julian Assange

    US preparing to seek the arrest of Julian Assange

    By Kevin Reed

    21 April 2017

    According to a CNN report Thursday, the US Department of Justice has prepared the charges it needs to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012.

    US officials told CNN reporters that investigators have “proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.”

    This represents a distinct shift in the focus of US efforts to persecute the WikiLeaks founder, from targeting the website’s publication of documents and materials provided by Chelsea Manning and other whistleblowers, i.e., acting as a recipient of leaks, to claiming that WikiLeaks was a participant in the leaking of material by Snowden.

    Although stopping short of naming Assange, when asked about the matter at a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “We’ve already begun stepping up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”

    CNN spoke with Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack about the report. Pollack said, “We've had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange.”

    Pollack added, “They've been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange's status is in any pending investigations. There's no reason why Wikileaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”

    The CNN report comes one week after CIA Director Mike Pompeo gave a highly publicized speech before the Center for Strategic and International Studies where he attacked both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Pompeo said during the question and answer period that Assange was not a US citizen and “has no First Amendment freedoms.”

    Assange responded with a statement last Friday calling Pompeo’s remarks “dangerous” and an attempt to “stifle speech.” The WikiLeaks statement also compared Pompeo’s effort to demonize Assange to the campaign against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Both the Pompeo speech and the leaked report of impending charges against Assange are clear indications that the Trump administration is moving swiftly to a direct attack on First Amendment rights. Of a piece with its reckless war policies, the administration is attempting to silence any further exposures of the criminal activities of the military-intelligence apparatus of the state.

    The timing of the Justice Department charges is connected with the recent confirmation of president-elect Lenín Moreno as the winner of Ecuador’s presidential election over Guillermo Lasso after a recount. The US was planning to exploit a defeat of Moreno, who has defended Assange up to this point and opposed his extradition from the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    The Justice Department is counting on the enthusiastic support of both the US Congress and the subservient corporate media to back its assault on democratic rights. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Rep. Peter King, R-New York said, “I'm glad that the Justice Department has found a way to go after Assange. He's gotten a free ride for too long.”

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    Default Julian Assange defiant as Sweden drops rape investigation

    5/19/2017 Julian Assange defiant as Sweden drops rape investigation - BBC News 1/9


    Julian Assange defiant as Sweden drops rape investigation
    10 minutes ago Europe

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said he will not forgive and forget attempts to
    arrest him over rape allegations which led him to seek asylum in Ecuador's London

    Hailing an "important victory", he said he was prepared for dialogue with the US and UK

    Mr Assange, 45, is wanted in the US over the leaking of military and diplomatic documents.
    Sweden said on Friday it had decided to drop its rape investigation.

    Meanwhile Ecuador urged the UK to allow him safe passage out of the country.


    Julian Assange spoke on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy: "Seven years of detention without

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    5/19/2017 Julian Assange defiant as Sweden drops rape investigation - BBC News 2/9

    The Wikileaks founder has chosen to remain in the embassy as he fears extradition to Sweden
    would lead to extradition to the US.

    "Today is an important victory for me and the UN human rights system, but by no means erases
    seven years of detention without charge... while my children grew up. That is not something I can
    forgive or forget," he told journalists from a balcony at the embassy.

    "My legal staff have contacted the UK authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about
    what will be the best way forward," he added, saying he was also "happy to engage" with the US.

    Police in London have said they would still be obliged to arrest Mr Assange if he left the
    Ecuadorean embassy, despite the Swedish prosecutors' decision.

    The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said Mr Assange still faced the lesser charge of failing to
    surrender to a court, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine.

    But the UK has not commented on whether it has received an extradition request from the US,
    where Mr Assange could, potentially, face trial.

    The plaintiff in the rape case was "shocked" by the decision, her lawyer said, and maintained her
    accusations against Mr Assange, Agence France-Presse reported.

    Campaigner, or attention-seeker?

    Five years in a bolthole

    Sweden's decision coincided with the release by Wikileaks of another tranche of documents
    about the US Central Intelligence Agency's technical capabilities.

    BBC security correspondent Gordon Correra says previous leaks, of what look like highly
    sensitive secret documents, have been damaging to the agency.

    What does Ecuador say?

    5/19/2017 Julian Assange defiant as Sweden drops rape investigation - BBC News 3/9

    Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said that the UK should now grant Mr Assange safe passage,
    as the European arrest warrant against him "no longer holds".

    "Ecuador welcomes the decision to drop the charges," Mr Long added, quoted by AFP, while
    criticising the time it took Sweden to send an investigator to London to interview Mr Assange.

    "Ecuador regrets that it took Swedish prosecutor more than four years to carry out this interview.
    This was a wholly unnecessary delay."

    Earlier a source at the ministry told the Press Association that Ecuador had "fully co-operated
    with the Swedish justice system".

    The source added that Ecuador would now intensify its diplomatic efforts with the UK so that
    Julian Assange could "enjoy his asylum in Ecuador".

    Why has the case been dropped?

    At a press briefing on Friday, Sweden's top prosecutor Marianne Ny said that by remaining in
    the embassy in London Mr Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant
    (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden.

    She said that under Swedish law a criminal investigation needed to be conducted "as quickly as

    Sweden did not expect Ecuador's co-operation in formally notifying Mr Assange of the
    allegations against him, a necessary step in proceeding with the case, she added.

    But she said: "If he were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitation on this case expires
    in August 2020, the preliminary investigation could be resumed."

    She said it was "regrettable we have not been able to carry out the investigation", and added:
    "We are not making any pronouncement about guilt."

    How did Mr Assange end up where he is?

    The rape allegation followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. Mr Assange always
    denied the allegations against him, saying sex was consensual.

    He also said the case was politically motivated, as it followed massive Wikileaks dumps of
    secret US military reports that year.

    Later that year he was arrested in London after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant
    against him.

    He spent the following months under house arrest in a small rural town in England.

    Then, in June 2012, after exhausting legal avenues to prevent his extradition, Mr Assange
    sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, where he remains to this day.

    What will happen to Mr Assange now?

    After the news was announced on Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that the "focus now moves to the
    UK", but Mr Assange's fate still seems unclear.

    5/19/2017 Julian Assange defiant as Sweden drops rape investigation - BBC News 4/9

    The MPS issued a statement saying that its actions had been based on a response to a
    "European Arrest Warrant for an extremely serious offence".

    It went on: "Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued
    their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence.
    The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence."

    The MPS said it would "not comment further on the operational plan".

    Last month, Mr Samuelson filed a new motion calling for his client's arrest warrant to be lifted.
    He cited a comment by new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the arrest of Mr Assange
    would be "a priority".

    Mr Samuelson told Agence France-Presse: "This implies that we can now demonstrate that the
    US has a will to take action... this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled."

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