Wikileaks: U.S. to charge Assange with espionage

AssangeFrom the capitalist media:

America is set to bring spying charges against jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, claims his lawyer.

US prosecutors are said to be finalising their case against the 39-year-old Australian behind the publication of more than 250,000 secret diplomatic messages.

Mr Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said she understands US charges are ‘imminent’.

He is likely to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to receive national defence information if it is known to have been obtained illegally and could be used ‘to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.’

US Justice Department officials refused to make any comment last night.

But Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed earlier this week that he had ordered a criminal probe and claimed the leaks had put America at risk.

‘We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature. I authorised just last week a number of things to be done so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable, as they should be,’ he said.

Mr Assange is still behind bars in London awaiting an extradition hearing on charges that he raped two women in Sweden.

Depending on the outcome of the hearing, the US would then have to launch another extradition bid either in Sweden or the UK.

Mr Assange was arrested in London and is currently awaiting an extradition hearing on charges that he raped two women in SwedenMr Assange was arrested in London and is currently awaiting an extradition hearing on charges that he raped two women in Sweden

Although America has extradition treaties with both countries, the process is often lengthy and is likely to take months.

The US has never used the law to charge a recipient who has published classified information.

But a senior legal aide said the government might argue that WikiLeaks is functioning as a kind of storehouse, gathering and maintaining the classified material rather than acting as a traditional media outlet.

Legal experts in Washington claimed an alternative would be to charge Mr Assange with theft of government property. The law makes it a crime for anyone who receives property known to have been stolen with intent to ‘convert to his own use or gain.’

It was used in 1984 to prosecute a US naval intelligence analyst who was jailed for leaking photos of a Soviet aircraft carrier to Britain’s Jane’s Defence Weekly magazine.

Ms Robinson said the WikiLeaks boss is being held in solitary confinement with restricted access to his lawyers.

‘This means he is under significant surveillance but also means he has more restrictive conditions than other prisoners. Considering the circumstances, he was incredibly positive and upbeat,’ she said yesterday.

The latest development emerged as another website claimed it was launching on Monday as a rival to WikiLeaks.

Former WikiLeaks employee Daniel Domschelt-Berg said the new German-based site, called OpenLeaks, would also help anonymous sources publish sensitive material online.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337554/WikiLeaks-founder-Julian-Assange-charged-spying-US.html#ixzz17jbpjIzx

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