By Kate Knibbs for The Ringer – The U.S. is planning to seek criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a CNN report citing anonymous U.S. officials on Thursday. If this occurs, it will represent a radical change in how the government treats dissident speech, one that will endanger the media and empower the Trump administration to silence critics. Trump’s not the first president to loathe the press. Richard Nixon had a good run as media-despiser-in-chief, although he often came up on the losing end of challenges to the Fourth Estate, most notably in 1971, when the Supreme Court ruled on the legality of publishing the Pentagon Papers. The court allowed The New York Times and The Washington Post to publish classified documents about the Vietnam War, which had been leaked by a government whistle-blower, without the threat of prosecution. The Obama administration was notoriously aggressive in investigating leakers, and more successful than Nixon at punishing them. It pursued government whistle-blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and obtained a ruling to require journalists to testify about confidential sources during criminal cases.
By Jon Queally for Common Dreams – Though U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said that arresting Assange was a “priority,” nobody in the government has yet gone public with the filing of official charges or the issuance of an arrest warrant. A lawyer representing Assange said neither he nor his client has been notified of any charges. “We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange,” attorney Barry Pollack told CNN. “They’ve been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange’s status is in any pending investigations. There’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.” Assange has long believed the U.S. maintains a sealed indictment against him, the key reason he has remained under asylum protection at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo stirred condemnation from free speech and journalistic watchdogs by threatening Assange and describing WikiLeaks as a “hostile non-state intelligence agency.”
By Jeremy Scahill for The Intercept – WIKILEAKS FOUNDER JULIAN ASSANGE is hitting back at Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo following a speech last week in which Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of being a “hostile nonstate intelligence agency” operating outside of the protections of the First Amendment. “We can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for,” Pompeo declared, adding an ominous assertion: “It ends now.” Speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living since June 2012, Assange said Pompeo appeared to be issuing a threat. “So how does he propose to conduct this ending? He didn’t say. But the CIA is only in the business of collecting information, kidnapping people, and assassinating people. So, it’s quite a menacing statement that he does need to clarify,” said Assange.
By Jonathan Watts for The Guardian – Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election. In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified. “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” he said during an interview in Quito. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.” That possibility is still some way off. In the most recent poll, Lasso is seven points behind the ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno, but the former banker has been gaining ground ahead of the first round of voting on 19 February and is widely tipped to force a runoff.
By Staff for Agency France Press. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will agree to be extradited to the United States if President Barack Obama grants clemency to the former US soldier Chelsea Manning, jailed for leaking documents, the company said on Thursday. “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (US Department of Justice) case,” WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter. Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.
By Staff of Fox News – Damning emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman did not come from Russian hackers and the claim is being made to “delegitimize” Donald Trump, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview. Hannity sat down with Assange in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, where the Australian native has been holed up for five years battling extradition to Sweden on unrelated charges. Part I of the interview is set to air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” In excerpts released prior to airing, Assange is adamant that the hacked emails his organization released of Clinton official John Podesta did not come from Russia, as the Obama administration has claimed.
By Anneta Konstantinides for Daily Mail – A former Icelandic minister has claimed that the FBI attempted to frame Julian Assange during a mission to Iceland. Ögmundur Jonasson, who currently serves as a member of the Icelandic Parliament, said US authorities told him in June 2011 that hackers were trying to destroy software systems in the country. The authorities said there was an ‘imminent attack’ on Iceland’s government databases and that the FBI would send agents to investigate. Jonasson said he was immediately skeptical of the FBI’s intentions. ‘I was suspicious,’ he told Katoikos. ‘Well aware that a helping hand might easily become a manipulating hand!’
By Peter Walker for The Independent – Julian Assange says he is “entirely innocent” of rape in his testimony to Swedish prosecutors, which he has published online. In a 19-page statement he gave in a landmark interview to Swedish investigators, the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief also said he had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. The 45-year-old computer programmer has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for four years to avoid arrest. “I want people to know the truth about how abusive this process has been,” said the Australian journalist.
By Kerrie Armstrong for SBS – Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s mother Christine has told SBS News she feels “angry” but she’s still fighting six years after her son was arrested in relation to sexual assault allegations. Assange handed himself in to police in London on December 2010 and was released on bail. However, in June 2012 he broke his bail and sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London over fears he would be extradited to the US to face possible espionage charges. Since then police have kept the embassy surrounded, preventing him from leaving to Ecuador.
By Esther Addley and David Crouch for the Guardian. A senior Swedish prosecutor has begun interviewing Julian Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in London, six years after a woman in Stockholm accused the WikiLeaks of rape. Ingrid Isgren, Sweden’s deputy chief prosecutor, arrived at 9.30am on Monday at the central London embassy where Assange has been confined since June 2012. Three days have been set aside for the interview, which is being conducted by an Ecuadorian prosecutor, following a list of questions submitted earlier this year by the Swedish prosecution authority. Isgren is allowed to ask Assange to clarify his answers, but not to put additional questions, and will receive a written transcript of the exchanges. Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, said he had been barred from the interview. “Ecuador refuses to let me in and insists that the questioning will continue without my presence, against my client’s wishes to have me there,” he told Reuters. Samuelson said he still hoped to be admitted if the interview continued, “but a good chunk of questioning has already taken place, as far as I understand”. In a statement released on Monday night, WikiLeaks said there had been “numerous irregularities” in the Swedish investigation.
By Whitney Webb for True Activist – Things haven’t been going quite as planned for WikiLeaks’ Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange. Though WikiLeaks has continued its daily releases of John Podesta’s emails, Assange lost his connection to the outside world when Ecuador caved to US pressure and cut off his access. Assange has been arbitrarily detained for over four years in Ecuador’s London Embassy after the country offered him asylum in 2012.
By Staff of Aljazeera – WikiLeaks says that founder Julian Assange’s internet access has been cut by an unidentified state actor. The whistle-blowing organisation said on Twitter on Monday that they have activated their “contingency plans” after its co-founder’s internet service was intentionally cut off. The internet is one of the few available means through which Assange can maintain contact with the outside world.
By Bill Van Auken for WSWS – The New York Times Thursday published an article entitled “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets.” The 5,000-word piece, covering three columns of the top half of its front page, boasts three bylines. Presented as a major investigative news article, it is a piece of pro-government propaganda, whose style and outright character assassination against the WikiLeaks founder seems to have been cribbed from the vilest McCarthyite smear jobs of the 1950s.
By Naomi LaChance for The Intercept – IN A TEN-MINUTE interview aired Wednesday morning, NPR’s David Greene asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange five times to reveal the sources of the leaked information he has published on the internet. A major tenet of American journalism is that reporters protect their sources. Wikileaks is certainly not a traditional news organization, but Greene’s persistent attempts to get Assange to violate confidentiality was alarming, especially considering that there has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question.
By Henry Barnes for the Guardian. Poitras presents her insider’s account of the WikiLeaks saga in Risk, a documentary that premiered this week at the Cannes film festival. Shot before, during and after the Snowden revelations, it is a partial reveal of the reveal. It brings the viewer into the room with the team of journalists, activists and hackers who helped – based on the leaks by Chelsea Manning and with the assistance of the Guardian – to expose exactly how scrutinised we are by the state. “He has a pretty extraordinary ability to withstand stress,” says Poitras. “Not that many people could withstand the pressure that he’s living under. He has to be able to hold it together, and he manages to.”