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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reason Behind US' Intention to Target WikiLeaks Founder Assange

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    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London (File)

    Reason Behind US' Intention to Target WikiLeaks Founder Assange

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    The US Department of Justice is looking to prosecute WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for multiple cases of data dumping. Speaking during a news conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Assange’s arrest a priority of the legal agency.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Kevin Boreham, an international law expert from the Australian National University.
    “It is due to a lot of things but mainly three dumps of information on CIA’s cyber espionage techniques that have alarmed the agencies in Washington. That is being the impetus for the attorney general and the CIA director claiming to bring charges against Assange,” Boreham said.
    He further said that these statements are a bit premature because there are complicated legal issues at hand.
    Talking about the kind of charges for which Assange can be brought to trial, the law expert said that the complication lies under a conclusion reached by the Obama’s administration that suggested that the First Amendment of the Constituion, which protects the freedom of speech, would be an impediment to bring charges against Assange, who claims to be just a publisher.
    “He [Assange] says that he just publishes information which he obtains but recent reports suggested that now Americans claim to have proof that he was more engaged in actually seeking the information and giving guidance on how to obtain it, so if that’s the case, then that would open charges under the legislation jury on the espionage act,” Boreham said.
    Furthermore, the expert said that Assange is protected under the freedom of speech act but if it could be proven that he was seeking the information and “conspiring with people like Chelsea Manning to obtain information” then that would open the charges under the stated legislation.
    “There is a technical difference between a reporter calling someone up asking for information and actually engaging in conspiracy to obtain government secrets,” Boreham said.

    He further spoke about the possibility of extraditing Assange to the US and what kind of complications can occur considering that he is currently living in the Ecuadorian embassy.
    “If the US administration wants to bring charges they would need to bring forward an extradition application in the British court which of course Assange would fight all the way up to the UK’s Supreme Court which would take a great deal of time,” the expert said.
    He added that the new Ecuadorian administration has also said that it would continue to protect Assange.
    On Thursday, US media reported that the Department of Justice is ready to file charges against Assange for a 2010 leak of confidential federal documents and a recent release of CIA secret files.
    "We won’t comment on ongoing investigations, however I think it’s been pretty clear that the Department of Justice will prosecute any violations of federal law when it comes to our national security," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing on Friday.
    Earlier this month, the CIA director said that WikiLeaks acts like a hostile intelligence service. Assange commented on the claim by saying that the accusations come from the "'state non-intelligence agency" which produced al-Qaida, ISIS [Daesh], Iraq, Iran & Pinochet."
    In November 2010, the Justice Department opened a probe into potential crimes committed by Assange, which is still ongoing. Assange applied for asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 out of fear of being sent to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault and rape. Assange has denied all the charges.

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