DOJ Could Build Julian Assange Case on Espionage Act Which Carries Possible Death Sentence

DOJ Could Build Julian Assange Case on Espionage Act Which Carries Possible Death Sentence

Convictions under the Espionage Act can be punished by death.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is facing extradition to the United States on charges of conspiring to break into a government computer to leak classified information. Washington has until June 12 to provide UK authorities with the necessary documents for Assange’s extradition.

Julian Assange could be charged under the Espionage Act for leaking classified material in addition to the hacking charge he already faces, a US Department of Justice document indicates.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating “possible violations of United States federal criminal law regarding the unauthorized receipt and dissemination of classified information,” said a letter addressed to former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, requesting an interview.

The WikiLeaks portal claims the US Department of Justice is attempting to build a case against Julian Assange based on the Espionage Act.

Convictions under the Espionage Act can be punished by death.

RT reports:

The letter suggests the DOJ is looking for evidence to charge the WikiLeaks founder with more than the computer crime detailed in the indictment against him unsealed in April.

The Espionage Act, a 1917 law intended to protect military secrets, has been used as a powerful implement against whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison under the Act for her role in leaking evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Edward Snowden was hit with two charges under the Act for his disclosures related to mass surveillance.

Investigations into WikiLeaks started as early as 2008, even before the publication of the Iraq and Afghan war logs, as well as the horrific ‘Collateral Murder’ footage. The DOJ began its own probe into Assange one year later, after WikiLeaks published nearly five decades’ worth of State Department diplomatic cables.

Assange is currently in British custody awaiting an extradition hearing after his April arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. British law mandates that suspects cannot be extradited to countries with the death penalty; it is unclear whether the DOJ’s probe will affect that process.

Investigations against WikiLeaks have been running since at least their 2010 publications of the Collateral Murder“ video and the war diaries from Afghanistan and Iraq. After they published the diplomatic cables in 2011, the Department of Justice began their own investigations.

Chelsea Manning was arrested in May 2010 and sentenced in 2013. The accusation now made against Assange was already addressed during Manning’s trial: a chat about attempting to crack a password. Obama commuted Manning’s remaining prison time, but the Trump administration intensified the persecution of WikiLeaks.

Other people involved with WikiLeaks were asked to support the investigations by providing information to the prosecutors. Jacob Appelbaum was asked to testify against Assange, but he refused. Manning is back in prison since early March for refusing to testify before the grand jury.

Not everyone resists. As early as 2011, several people cooperated with the FBI, including Adrian LamoSigurdur Thordarson and a not publicly named „U.S. Person No. 1“. David House refused to testify before the grand jury in 2011, but changed his mind and testified in May 2018, likely after an offer similar to Domscheit-Berg’s.

The US must produce its case for requesting the extradition of Assange from Britain by June 12. In seven weeks, they must finally admit what they are trying to charge him for: hacking or journalism.

There have been people involved with WikiLeaks who were asked to support the investigations by providing information to the prosecutors. Jacob Appelbaum was asked to testify against Assange, but he refused. Manning is back in prison since early March for refusing to testify before the grand jury.

Not everyone resists. As early as 2011, several people cooperated with the FBI, including Adrian LamoSigurdur Thordarson and a not publicly named U.S. Person No. 1“. David House refused to testify before the grand jury in 2011, but changed his mind and testified in May 2018, likely after an offer similar to Domscheit-Berg’s.

The US must produce its case for requesting the extradition of Assange from Britain by June 12. In seven weeks, they must finally admit what they are trying to charge him for: hacking or journalism.


 

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