Criminalization of Journalism? – Wikileaks’ Julian Assange Arrested
Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks. Wikileaks published information which outed the Democrats during the 2016 campaign. They also published the classified documents given to them by Bradley Manning (aka Chelsea Manning). Today, Assange was “arrested on behalf of the United States” by British authorities, just as Ecuador ousted him from their Embassy in London. He will be extradited to the United States for trial.
The charge as listed by the US Attorney’s office is “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.”
The USAO reported,
According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.
The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.
During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”
The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it’s the criminalization of journalism pic.twitter.com/GXNjWlkFZw— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 11, 2019
The question: Is Julian Assange a “journalist,” a “hacker” or just a “publisher?” Is he a hero or a scoundrel? Did he do the hacking into the classified government computers or did he encourage employees like Manning or others to do it for him? Many view him as a hero after his outing of the Democrats in during the 2016 Presidential campaign. But his involvement with the Manning release of classified government documents is what the charges are all about.
Manning was a traitor, of that there is no doubt- and her clemency by Obama was a slap in the face to all of our military. Manning released the classified information, Assange published it.
Journalists from all over the world are crying foul over this arrest. Even Edward Snowden is calling it “weak.”
The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking. The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade: it is the count Obama’s DOJ refused to charge, saying it endangered journalism. https://t.co/xdTQ8xauB0— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 11, 2019
.@Wikileaks is a publisher. Charges now brought in connection with its material, or any attempt to extradite #Assange to the United States for prosecution under the deeply flawed cudgel of the Espionage Act 1917, is an attack on all of us. CIJ Statement https://t.co/UKE2OihVow— CIJ (@cijournalism) April 11, 2019
US did not waste any time putting in extradition request for Assange. Terrible precedent if journalist/publisher ends up in US jail for Iraq war logs and state department cables.— Ewen MacAskill (@ewenmacaskill) April 11, 2019
Assange has been arrested in relation to a US extradition request for “conspiracy with Chelsea Manning” for publishing Iraq War Logs, Cablegate, Afghan War Logs, precisely the persecution for which he was granted asylum under the 1951 Refugee Convention in 2012. @unhumanrights pic.twitter.com/i0TezO3SdK— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Julian Assange has won many journalism awards over the years. Others view him as a journalist, even if the United States does not. Wikileaks offered a $20K reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator when Seth Rich was murdered. He often attempted to make the case during the 2016 election campaign that Russia was NOT his source for the leaks of DNC emails (no one was listening). Today AP reported that the Russian government issued a statement on his arrest, calling it “rude,” and saying that they hoped the US would preserve his rights.
Julian Assange is a mixed bag, an enigma for certain. He’s done some great things, and pushed the envelope on others. Will the US attempt to force him to release his sources? Wikileaks has never given up a source. Assange is a citizen of Australia, not the US. The whole case could be complicated and messy.
Featured photo: screenshot via Twitter