Wednesday 8 December 2010

The Indy: Assange could face espionage trial in US

Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources, the Independent claims today.

It notes that Assange's arrest in London yesterday was described by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates as “good news”, and may pave the way for extradition to America and a possible lengthy jail sentence.

The Independent says: "The US Justice Department is considering charging Mr Assange with espionage offences over his website’s unprecedented release of classified US diplomatic files. Several right-wing American politicians are pressing for his prosecution and even execution, with Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate, saying he should be pursued the same as al-Qa’ida and Taliban leaders."

The Swedish government is seeking Assange’s extradition for alleged sexual offences against two women. The Independent adds: "Sources stressed that no extradition request would be submitted until and unless the US government laid charges against Mr Assange, and that attempts to take him to America would only take place after legal proceedings are concluded in Sweden."

  • Baruch Weiss has written an article in the Washington Post 'Why prosecuting WikiLeaks' Julian Assange will not be easy'. He notes: "But even if the Justice Department finds him, arrests him and extradites him, its work will be far from over. The U.S. government has never successfully prosecuted a media entity for a leak. It is typically much easier to bring such cases against the government officials who do the leaking, because they sign nondisclosure agreements surrendering many of the legal protections they otherwise would enjoy."(Hat Tip: Kevin Anderson)
  • According to the New York Times: "The Justice Department, in considering whether and how it might indict Julian Assange, is looking beyond the Espionage Act of 1917 to other possible offenses, including conspiracy or trafficking in stolen property, according to officials familiar with the investigation."

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