Today, WikiLeaks' lawyers have written to Google and the US Department of Justice concerning a serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks' staff. Investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson have received notice that Google had handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged 'conspiracy' and 'espionage' warrants carrying up to 45 years in prison.
Importantly, the warrants reveal for the first time a clear list of the alleged offences the US government is trying to apply in its attempts to build a prosecution against Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks staff. The offences add up to a total of 45 years of imprisonment.
The US government is claiming universal jurisdiction to apply the Espionage Act, general Conspiracy statute and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to journalists and publishers – a horrifying precedent for press freedoms around the world. Once an offence is alleged in relation to a journalist or their source, the whole media organisation, by the nature of its work flow, can be targeted as alleged 'conspiracy'. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief said: 'WikiLeaks has out endured everything the Obama administration has thrown at us and we will out endure these latest "offences" too.'
The alleged offences are:
- Espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) - imprisonment up to 10 years
- Conspiracy to commit espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(g) - imprisonment up to 10 years
- The theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government: 18 U.S.C. § 641 - imprisonment up to 10 years
- Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: 18 U.S.C. § 1030 - imprisonment up to 10 years
- (general) Conspiracy: 18 U.S.C. § 371 - imprisonment up to 5 years
The US Department of Justice confirmed to US federal court on 19 May 2014 that it was "very clear that the main, multi-subject, criminal investigation of WikiLeaks 'remains open and pending'," but that to release additional information would "harm" the "ongoing Department of Justice (“DoJ”) and FBI criminal investigation and pending future prosecution". In 2012 the US government stated in military court that the target of the DoJ investigation included the "founders, owners and managers of WikiLeaks". The investigation began as early as February 2010 and has involved search warrants and court orders for the records of WikiLeaks' associates.
Assange said: 'I call on president Obama to do the right thing and call off his dogs--for his own sake. President Obama is set to go down in history as the president who brought more bogus "espionage" cases against the press than all previous presidents combined.'
Google takes the position that, in turning over e-mails, they complied with the law.
No, they didn't.
The law would have to be rewritten for Julian Assange to be charged with espionage. He is not a US citizen.
If Google's attorneys were truly that stupid on the basics, they should have countered and asked for a court ruling.
If you think the courts are swamped now, you let Barack or any other sitting president start charging foreigners for activities that take place on foreign soil with espionage and you watch the court system in the US buckle and break from the strain of all the new cases.
There are many problems with what is described in the WikiLeak press release but that Google buckled on espionage is probably the most shocking because it can't be applied to non-US citizens.
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were persecuted under this law but, please note, these alleged spies for the Soviet Union were Americans and there was no effort to prosecute those in the USSR who allegedly received information.
When the US government wants something, especially under Barack these days, they will bully and lie and hope no one calls them on it.
Eric Holder needs to explain the actions involved here because they reflect just as poorly on him as they do on Barack.
They were trying to intimidate Google (which buckled immediately).
Who knows who else they've used this on?
But the appropriate response when the government claims this is espionage in a warrant is not to confer with your attorneys (who apparently are legal idiots) but to fight the warrant in court.
Google's always been a great friend to Barack.
It's a real shame it's been a lousy friend to the US Constitution.
In Iraq, All Iraq News reports that Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri has declared the Parliament will vote on the budget Thursday. That's a bit of an improvement on the wording. Five times previously, he has publicly promised that the budget would be passed and it never was. Now he's just announcing a vote. Let's see if that happens.
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