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Washington Post: Assange 'Unlikely To Be Prosecuted In US' 236

Posted by timothy
from the he-never-calls-he-never-writes-oy dept.
vikingpower writes "The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials." That "all but" probably wouldn't feel all that comforting if this announcement applied to me.
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Washington Post: Assange 'Unlikely To Be Prosecuted In US'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:11AM (#45526157)

    Rot in jail for years before a 'trial'? Oh hell yes we'd do that to him.

    Embarassed the powers that be... They got a hardon for him now.

    • Step in to my parlour,
      Said the Spider to the Fly...

      Maher Arar was never "prosecuted". Extraordinary rendition is extra-judicial.

      An ordinary deportation to UK - which has no republican constitution and is under Crown Justice - that would have him nicely "dealt".

      • To communicate the fact that they *really* aren't going to prosecute Assange?

        They can't **promise** because US leaders do not know what new information could be revealed. It would be irresponsible and unprofessional for US Attorneys to say otherwise.

        They can ***theoretically*** be, you know, actually telling the truth.

        What I want to know is, under what conditions would the US be able to communicate this to your satisfaction?

        What can the US Attorneys do that wont elicit a "Oh...yeah...SURE...they won't prose

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        Put your tinfoil hat away, he was freely walking the streets of the UK, until he exhausted his appeals in the Swedish case. Say what you will about Assange (I've said plenty), he's not a complete moron, the fact that he waited until he ran out of appeals spokes volumes about what he's really worried (Sweden) about. If he was worried about extradition to the United States why didn't he run the embassy sooner? Ditto for concerns about being charged in the UK.

        • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @11:14AM (#45526881)
          Freely walking the streets of the UK - WITH A TRACKING ANKLE DEVICE. Not to mention that he would be held in solitary the moment he lands in Sweden + easier to extradite him from Sweden to the US. Let me preempt those that still think it would be easier to extradite from the UK: The claim: "easier from the UK than Sweden" (FALSE) [justice4assange.com].

          Very sad that someone can be granted political asylum and *still* Sweden refuses to do a simple interview. Speaks volumes for the real intent of Sweden [wikipedia.org] (hint: nothing to do with justice, all about locking people away for embarrassing those in power and bringing some long needed transparency into the public realm.)

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Admiral Ackbar gives his opinion on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F4qzPbcFiA [youtube.com]

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:57AM (#45526643)

      If he or Edward Snowden ever land on American soil again, they'll be thrown in jail before the TSA even has a chance to harass them. If they can't get him them on espionage charges, they'll trump up some other charges (probably along the lines of rape, child molestation, puppy abuse, etc. to discredit them to boot), or just not even bother with charges at all and send them straight down to Cuba for indefinite detention.

      They've committed the greatest crime of all, embarrassing the U.S. Government. And that carries a mandatory life sentence with no trial.

      • If he or Edward Snowden ever land on American soil again, they'll be thrown in jail before the TSA even has a chance to harass them.

        These days you don't even need to land...
    • by whoever57 (658626) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @12:55PM (#45528599) Journal

      Embarassed the powers that be... They got a hardon for him now.

      Question: how can NSA employees travel outside the USA without fear of being arrested for espionage? What did Assange do that the NSA does not do? Spying on the communications of national leaders -- that's not a criminal offense in, for example, Germany?

    • by Curate (783077)
      If the USA says they won't prosecute him, I believe it. Note that the USA did not bother to prosecute Osama Bin Laden.
    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Well articulated, Good Citizen!

      And for any commenters are /. who still are clueless, here is an excellent breakdown by the Nordic News Network:

      http://www.nnn.se/nordic/assange/suspicious.pdf [www.nnn.se]

      The item they didn't mention, since they are not doing any factual supposition as I do, is that every player in Sweden involved with attempting to extradite Assange is financially involved/linked to the Swedish media mogul family (the Rupert Murdochs of Sweden), the Bonnier family.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:13AM (#45526169)

    [You know what goes here.]

  • Well I Guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:13AM (#45526177)

    Well, I guess the Washington Post can say whatever they like.

    Please accept my personal guarantee that if Julian Assange were to arrive in New York on Christmas Day, he would be immediately arrested and charged with all sorts of obscure charges. He would then rot in a cell for several years(~6) before seeing the inside of a court room.

    I guarantee it.

    - Not George Zimmerman

    • Zimmerman?

      Try Snowden.

      Why are they saying Assange won't be prosecuted:

      Because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.

      If Snowden hadn't been duped by Glenn Greenwald he could have released this info in a way that would let him **be a free man**....because of the US laws for protecting journalists are the strongest in the world.

      Freedom of Speech works if you do you homework on how the law is worded.

      Snowden coul

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Because word of law has significant impact on supralegal organizations and their actions...

        • I don't understand what supralegal organization to which you refer:

          is it Wikileaks? the military/industrial complex? "Obama"?

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            The organizations that handled the whole "extraordinary rendition" for example. As well as various alphabet-soup agencies that can present complex legal arguments in front of kangaroo courts to explain in great detail why they don't have to care about particular laws.

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Yup, the same Washington Post which ran columns for many years by Joseph Alsop, without ever mentioning his cousin was Kermit Roosevelt, a high-level CIA dood. And the same Washington Post which ran columns for many years by Cleveland Amory, without mentioning that his brother was a deputy director at the CIA. Yes, and the same Washington Post owned by Katherine Meyer Graham the daughter of a former Federal Reserve chairman, and the wife of a former guy who worked for Allen Dulles in the OSS during WWII.
  • can't trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:14AM (#45526187)

    Obama/DoJ also promised they wouldn't go after Cannabis dispensaries and growers in medical states but that was a lie.

    • Re:can't trust them (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:40AM (#45526425)

      Of all the current administration's lies, that is the one you pick? How about the promises to protect whistle-blowers?

      You now have to go the the Wayback Machine [archive.org] to even find it.

      "Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process."

    • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:43AM (#45526471) Homepage Journal
      Obama said in the initial campaing that will protect whisteblowers. See how that ended.
      • by houghi (78078)

        [Politician] said in the initial campaing that [insert anything here]. See how that ended.

        There, fixed that for you.
        What will happen is that the other part now will win and we will be saying the identical same thing in a few years, after we realize that the promises were a lie.
        Then we will vote for the opposition (or not) and the same will happen.

    • I remember when Obama said that while running for office. The DOJ on the other hand made no such claim. I'm not defending the DOJ, they still in my opinion gleefully trampled on states rights and individual rights, and over an idiotic law. Just pointing out that I don't think they ever said they wouldn't.

      You might also point out that Obama then lied again to try to cover for his first lie. [firedoglake.com] Except he was in office during the more recent lie. With about the same effort of coming up with that lie, he c
  • What about the UK? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:15AM (#45526199) Homepage

    He is still wanted in the UK for skipping bail. Even if the US were not lying he still can't just walk out of the embassy.

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:27AM (#45526303)

      It depends on what's actually going on. If the whole extradition was orchestrated by the US and the rape charges really are a conspiracy then just because the US wouldn't prosecute him there doesn't mean they're going to drop that avenue.

      If it isn't a conspiracy by the US then one of two things can happen:

      If Sweden drops the charges then he'll probably get a menial punishment for skipping bail, not likely to be excessive (you can kill someone whilst speeding way over the limit and avoid jail in the UK for crying out loud).

      If Sweden doesn't drop the charges then Assange will probably stay in the embassy until Ecuador gets fed up of him, until Sweden starts being reasonable and allows questioning to occur within the embassy (something they can do, despite the lies otherwise, because they've done exactly that in the past), until he gives up and let's Sweden's obscure (in)justice system have it's way with him, or until he dies.

      So this whole unlikely to be prosecuted thing may just be weasel words for "We're going to pretend we're nice people that believe in justice because we don't believe he's going anywhere for years anyway and say he's safe from prosecution, but we'll use the qualifier 'unlikely' just in case he does somehow get free so that we can change our mind without having lied". I suppose technically it may be a rather weak attempt by the US government to try and add weight to their pretense that there's no conspiracy against him (assuming there even is) so that Sweden and the UK can pretend he's just paranoid for no reason and that he should come out of the embassy and let them have their way with him.

      Either way none of it changes Assange's situation in the slightest so I don't know what the point in the statement is. If the US really wants to change the status quo they need to make a more explicit statement along the lines of "Our inquiry has found that we have absolutely no grounds to prosecute Julian Assange, as he has broken no US law, and therefore we will not be seeking his extradition or prosecution under any circumstances related to the files leaked and published by his organisation to date". It wouldn't mean they wouldn't of course, but at least they'd have to face the consequences politically. The fact they wont issue such an explicit statement and are just putting out meaningless sound bites implies to me that they're just trying to muddy the waters on the issue and trying to win some good will without actually doing anything to deserve it.

      • Skipping bail is criminal contempt of court in the UK

        http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/63 [legislation.gov.uk]

        Penalties are severe:

        http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/contempt_of_court/ [cps.gov.uk]

        An immediate custodial sentence is the only appropriate sentence to impose upon a person who interferes with the administration of justice, unless the circumstances are wholly exceptional

        He would have been (was?) allowed to argue his case that he shouldn't be extradited to Sweden due to the subsequent risk of extradition t

        • by Xest (935314)

          The site you linked is merely the CPS' information on the issue, that's the Crown Prosecution Service - i.e. the people who advocate primarily for the police, so they're going to overhype the seriousness of laws because they want to deter people from breaking them as it makes their job easier.

          But regardless, even the link you posted alone says the maximum penalty for skipping bail is 6 months in jail. That'd likely be applied as a suspended sentence (i.e. no actual jail time) or even just written off altoge

    • ...because under the rules and regulations of the European Union, that was not a valid warrent for his arrest to begin with.

      http://www.nnn.se/nordic/assange/suspicious.pdf [www.nnn.se]
  • Hahahaha! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:18AM (#45526223) Journal
    Hey, guys, isn't "prosecution" some sort of procedural step that we used to have to go through before getting to the indefinite detention and torture phase?
    • It's the "trial" nonsense that we skip now.
    • by DarthVain (724186)

      Better than "definite" detention and torture? "Infinite"? :) mind is weird some days.

      • Given that 'definite' (while unhelpful for sufficiently large values) represents a legal limit on the duration of detention (subject to modification only under established due process, or at least a mockery of it that preserves its forms) while 'indefinite' is usually a polite way of saying "Until we feel like it, or you die, whichever comes first", yes, yes it is.
        • by DarthVain (724186)

          I was thinking of the "sufficiently large values"...

          "You can't hold me for an indefinite time!"
          "Fine, we are holding you for 100 years, or until we let you off earlier..."

  • Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:18AM (#45526229)
    So that means he would never appear before a judge. In fact, he might just disappear altogether.
    • Bingo. "Unlikely to be prosecuted" likely translates to "disappeared and tortured" if they ever get their hands on him.
    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Naaaahhhh, overshoot, that never happens. Only when Boeing's subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan is involved. Oh, looky there, they want to extradite Assange to Gothenburg, where Jeppesen Systems AB, another of those Boeing Jeppesen "extreme rendition airlines" subsidiaries, just happens to be!
  • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:20AM (#45526247)
    I have all but concluded that I will probably not eat that piece of chocolate cake in the fridge.

    That sweet chocolatty cake.

    That dark moist delicious cake.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:21AM (#45526257)

    Just like all those people in GITMO. They haven't been charged with any crimes either.

  • Ask the people in Gitmo how their prosecution is proceeding. And while you are at it ask all the people grabbed by Special Rendition about their prosecution status.

    The US has demonstrated that there is a huge difference between holding someone and prosecuting them. So while the Justice Department may correctly say that prosecution is unlikely to occur, that in no means ensures that someone won't suffer any consequences.

  • I'm sure visiting the US is the only thing He's been able to think about since being holed up in that embassy. Bet he can't wait to experience that fresh Walmart smell and glue his brain to the red ticker on Fox News again. AND, since the US has such a world renown affection for whistleblowers, I'm sure he'd be perfectly safe. He should really take this deal.

    • From a legal standpoint, no, the DOJ can't prosecute someone for publishing information. That was covered in the Pentagon Papers cases 40 years ago. But you have to remember the reason he's holed up in an embassy. The government can find an assortment of other bullshit reasons to prosecute you. Any minor discrepancies on your customs forms when you entered the country? Tax problems? Ever pirated an MP3 or movie? If they want to get you, they can and will find a reason. For all the crimes that Al Cap

  • "Welcome to my parlor," said the spider to the fly...

  • The American government arresting him for Wikileaks would only solidify him as a martyr. Better to just let him get picked up in a third country and extradited by the Swedes on rape charges to try and discredit him.
    • There are no rape charges, he is wanted for questioning, which already occurred whilst he was still in Sweden at the time the incidents occurred, then given permission to leave.
      The questioning could occur at the Ecuador embassy anytime, Sweden chooses not to do so.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      It would also send a good message on "what we do with you fuckers who dare to tell our dirty secrets to the public".

  • Said the spider to the fly.
  • Oh that's bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:35AM (#45526375) Journal

    But he's guilty of the Worst Crime Possible in the United States: embarrassing politicians. They'll never just let him get away with it.

    The threat of prosecution is at least a small comfort, because it sort of implies they might actually play by some rule book. But if prosecution is off the table, that leaves drone interdiction, indefinite detention, or torture as the only options.

    If I were Mr. Assange, the words "no prosecution" would send a cold shiver down my spine.

  • We have a free pony for him, too!
  • In a land of a million laws, we're all criminals. The most any of us can hope for is that prosecution is "unlikely".

  • Is he still holed up in that 800 sq ft. Ecuadoran embassy...?
    What does he do besides Yoga, Play WoW, Drink Wine and read Snowdens leaked docs?
  • ...but why the FUCK would he go to America?
  • So come on for a visit, Julian. We promise we probably, maybe won't arrest you the second your plane lands.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Indeed. It would take airplane minutes to get to the terminal after landing. That is a lot of seconds!

  • Likely to punish in several other indirect ways? Very much so.

  • .... an unfortunate accident. He shot himself five times while cleaning his guns.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:58AM (#45526653)

    I've said this several times on Slashdot (and have the moderation scars to prove it).

    Assange will not be prosecuted by the US.

    However I would be very surprised if he were ever to be granted a Visa if he applied. Which I really doubt he would ever do.

    It also completely destroys the conspiracy theories that the Swedish extradition would be a short stopover on the way to the US. Aside from the EU laws that this would break, the US really has nothing to gain and a lot to lose from this sort of action.

    • by game kid (805301)

      As bunches have already said here, the real issue is not whether the US prosecutes Assange, but whether the US (or any of its territories or non-annexed lackeys) punishes Assange with (or far more likely without) a Speedy And Public Trial.

      Also, given that the US clearly has no respect for privacy or whistleblower protection, that statement by DoJ sounds less like a reassurance and much more like a less-than-implicit threat to other journalists. "What happened to Assange could happen to any of you TrueCrypt

      • What do you expect the US to do? Kiss and make up? Issue him a Congressional Gold Medal?

        Assange certainly has not behaved towards the US is a friendly manner. You are expecting the US to be nice towards him anyway?

        Why shouldn't it go after Assange within the framework of the various sanctions and actions legally available to a soveriegn power? The guy is a jerk anyway and everyone knows it.

        I fully expect the US to put Assange on its persona non gratia list and tell him to kiss off at every opportunity. And

  • With this supra-legal coven, 'all but' can easily mean a drone, a Chavez Special, or Gitmo.
  • The cheque is in the mail
    Of course I'm on the pill
    We won't prosecute Assange

  • 1. As far as I know, the DoJ hasn't brought legal proceedings against any of the people detained at Guantanamo.

    2. The President has publicly claimed (and regularly exercises) the right to order anyone, anywhere, to be killed any time he chooses. Just because he deems it fit.

    So I wouldn't put too much store in anything the DoJ says. Because, you know, they don't have the final say.

  • This just in... foreigners not bound to the United States' laws.

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