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US Prosecutors Have a Sealed Indictment On Assange, Say Leaked Files 328

beaverdownunder writes with news from The Age that "Leaked e-mails from private U.S. intelligence agency Stratfor indicate that American prosecutors have had a sealed, secret indictment drawn up against Julian Assange as early as January, 2011." From the article: "The news that U.S. prosecutors drew up a secret indictment against Mr. Assange more than 12 months ago comes as the WikiLeaks founder awaits a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned in relation to sexual assault allegations. Mr. Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will open the way for his extradition to the U.S. on possible espionage or conspiracy charges over WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified U.S. reports."
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US Prosecutors Have a Sealed Indictment On Assange, Say Leaked Files

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  • Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:10AM (#39185127) Journal

    I think the only reason he hasn't been Awlaki'd is that he's staying in built-up first-world areas.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why would he be easier to extradite from Sweden than Great Britain?

      • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Informative)

        by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:39AM (#39185427) Journal

        This page has a lot of arguments and info on the topic, mind you the source isn't terribly neutral:

        http://justice4assange.com/US-Extradition.html [justice4assange.com]

      • It does seem counter-intuitive. But perhaps we Brits are only eager to hand over our own to the Merrykins.
      • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:01PM (#39185659)

        He wouldn't be easier to extradite from Sweden than Great Britain. The EU has specific rules and regulations regarding extradition to a third-party non-EU state, and there is absolutely nothing (legal) that Sweden can do to extradite Assange to the US without first getting the consent of the UK's justice minister.

        The only way that Assange could be extradited to the US is:
        1) Sweden and the UK BOTH agree to honor an extradition request, through their justice ministers & courts, and that extradition is held up by the EU central courts;
        2) Sweden decides to jeopardize its standing and decades of goodwill in the EU, as well as facing probable legal and economic sanctions, and hands over Assange without obeying the relevant EU laws to which it is a signatory

        In case 1, why would the US wait for him to be extradited to Sweden, instead of just requesting extradition from the UK? They have to get the UK justice minister's approval either way, why add Sweden's system to the mix?

        In case 2, this is so unlikely to happen that you might as well be worrying about a Martian invasion, as well.

        The only people who think the Sweden extradition is some sort of grand conspiracy for the US to get its hands on Assange are... well, Assange, and a like-minded bunch of credulous simpletons (see the link provided by GameboyRMH for examples of like-minded simpletons.)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by HBI ( 604924 )

          I actually agree. It may be that the Swedish women are doing him a favor here. In fact, I wouldn't doubt that this is all attention seeking behavior from Assange when he knows full well that the Swedish connection might be his only lifeline. It's unlikely that he'd be in any danger in Swedish jail, but he'd be in quite a bit of danger anywhere else. Hiding out in Stockholm for 10 years might be the one thing that could result in him having any future besides a pine box.

          The insurance file is a joke. It'

        • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @02:14PM (#39187259)

          "The EU has specific rules and regulations regarding extradition to a third-party non-EU state"

          Actually they don't. They only have rules and regulations for extradition between members. This is why current extradition treaties between the U.S. and European countries are still very, very valid.

        • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @05:12PM (#39189445)

          The only people who think the Sweden extradition is some sort of grand conspiracy for the US to get its hands on Assange are... well, Assange, and a like-minded bunch of credulous simpletons

          Nice ad homenim against anyone who disagrees with your view. Extra points for arrogance.

          Apparently your list of "simpletons" includes your buddies at Stratfor, who claim to have specific intelligence indicating that the charges in Sweden are trumped up:

          Whatâ(TM)s even more interesting is that Farnham says thereâ(TM)s nothing to the claims that Assange sexually assaulted two women in Sweden. He says that a close family friend knows one of the women involved in the case and they said that itâ(TM)s just âoeprosecutors looking to make a name for themselves.â

          Ref: http://www.webpronews.com/stratfor-email-leaks-reveal-u-s-plans-to-indict-wikileaks-founder-2012-02 [webpronews.com]

          This may be less about extraditing Assange to the US, and more about jailing him for any offense, real or imagined, and assinating his character. Which would still be a "grand conspiracy" of sorts, just not one focused on extradition: label him a rapist and jail him for trumped up charges without us breaking any of our laws. Makes a nice example (in the Mafiosa Dom sense of the word), particularly once you throw Manning's inevitable sentence into the mix.

          The sealed indictment (if real) adds another sinister bent to the whole thing. Regardless, that a very nasty game is afoot here is not in doubt, what is, is exactly what the nature of the game is.

          What role a secret indictment would play is interesting to speculate about (and that's all anyone can really do). Can Assange be rendered more easily from Sweden (or points en route), or is he more vulnerable to extradition as a convicted felon and ex-con after he's served jailtime on trumped up charges and his reputation is in tatters? Or is it just an Ace the government keeps up its sleave, on the off chance Assange someday has a layover on US soil, say, on his way to a speaking engagement in Rio?

    • if the US executes it's own citizens, it's a moral conundrum that challenges the primacy of our constitutional system.

      if the US executes an Australian citizen, it's an international incident that may cause war-crimes charges to be brought against President Obama.

  • I still don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:11AM (#39185135)
    He did not steal the files! He is not an american citizen! And when he did obtain the files, he was not on American soil! And he is not bound by any law prohibiting the distribution of these files, and certainly not under any NDA. So the question is what kind of justice mokery they came up with ?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:19AM (#39185233)

      Might makes right.

    • by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:20AM (#39185247)
      Dont let facts, or the law [salon.com], get in the way of a good revenge hanging.

      it is impossible to invent theories to indict them [Assange/Wikileaks] without simultaneously criminalizing much of investigative journalism

      The emperor reacts violently when without clothes.

      • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:35AM (#39185401) Journal

        Criminalizing investigative journalism is exactly what they intend to do.

      • Espionage is and always has been, IIRC, a crime.

        • by tqk ( 413719 )

          Espionage is and always has been, IIRC, a crime.

          What espionage, exactly? You mean (allegedly) receiving (alleged) stolen goods from (the alleged) Bradley Manning, just like The Guardian and The New York Times did? The NYT and its publisher/editors don't even need to be extradited.

          How much is the USA, the UK, and Sweden spending on this witch hunt?

          What happened to the last spy cell the US caught? Shipped back to Russia to become hosts of their own TV show?

          Why's the US got such a stiffie for Assange? Because he helped prove that Hillary really is the i

      • The emperor reacts violently when without clothes.

        now there's an image...

        So be it...Jedi. *yanks off robe*

    • by S.O.B. ( 136083 )

      So the question is what kind of justice mokery they came up with ?

      That would be American justice mockery.

    • Did you not get the memo? American laws apply everywhere in the world.
      • If I hack and break into MI5 or Downing Street, does that mean that my extradition to the UK mean that "British laws apply everywhere in the world" too? Or does it mean that we have an extradition agreement with the UK?

      • by Cyberllama ( 113628 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:55PM (#39186293)

        IANAL, but he didn't even break any laws period. He could have been in the United States and it would have been perfectly legal for him to release that information. It's not illegal to release classified information; it's illegal to share it if you were given access to it legitimately. If someone accidentally leaves it on the bus, you can do whatever you like with it. The government can't force citizens to keep secrets for it, it can only punish those who don't keep secrets after swearing that they would.

    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:32AM (#39185377) Journal

      So the question is what kind of justice mokery they came up with ?

      I suppose that the Wikileaks cable leaks were so pervasive that some of the files contained classified information -- maybe even information not only classified by the United States government but also many other governments of the world.

      Has it occurred to you that perhaps the US prosecutors have researched the laws that he was supposed to be abiding by when he obtained the files? They're probably not as serious as the US laws but nowhere does it say whether these are charges under US law, Australian laws, US-Ally law or some other foreign law. Here's some reading on said laws from the nation of his citizenship [nationalsecurity.gov.au]. Perhaps the purpose of this indictment is to try to get him tried under those laws in an Australian court with information provided by US prosecutors?

      • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:40AM (#39185439)
        As far as I remember, Australia did look into this matter and they found out that he can't be prosecuted. Now if what you say is true, then this shit is getting out of hand. I mean how far they are willing to go with this? At one point they will transform him into a living 'martyr' and then they would have accomplished nothing by bringing him down. You do not eliminate your enemies by taking them down this way, you eliminate them by making them irrelevant.
      • by GSloop ( 165220 )

        Then it would need to be the appropriate law enforcement from THAT country that would have an indictment.

        It would be REALLY odd (nay, not within the law) for the US Department of Justice to be holding a sealed indictment for crimes under Australian law or any other country's laws. Ironic huh? That the US Justice Department would be involved in an extra-judicial, not-within-the-law process?!? Not really I guess, but "For Great Justice" - erm, lets lynch the SOB. Trust us, the president says he's an eeeeevil

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      What makes you think the rule of law applies in America?

    • by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

      You demonstrated Assange's complete innocence in four sentences! Somehow, I think that it is a little more complicated than that.

      I'll wait to see the indictment.

      • by anagama ( 611277 )

        Good luck waiting. The Obama administration, like that of Bush before, sees no need to present indictments or use public fair trials prior to detention, and Obama has extended that policy to execution.

    • yea, but Bradley wasn't just an American citizen, he was a an American service member who took an oath, and Assange was complicit in his treason. I Doubt a "Journalist" Would work with an American service member actively committing treason
    • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:05PM (#39185705) Journal

      He did not steal the files! He is not an american citizen! And when he did obtain the files, he was not on American soil! And he is not bound by any law prohibiting the distribution of these files, and certainly not under any NDA. So the question is what kind of justice mokery they came up with ?

      Ask the MegaUpload people how not being american worked for them.

    • He did not steal the files! He is not an american citizen! And when he did obtain the files, he was not on American soil! And he is not bound by any law prohibiting the distribution of these files, and certainly not under any NDA.

      Given the evidence of interaction between Assange and Manning that the government has said it has, presumably the basis of any charges would be Manning's offenses, Assange's interaction with Manning, and 18 USC Sec. 2:

      (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aid

    • by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:23PM (#39185935)

      And he is not bound by any law prohibiting the distribution of these files

      I don't think that issue is as clear as you do. There's little stopping Congress from passing a law granting themselves some sort of worldwide jurisdiction (assuming the law would be otherwise valid). The better question is whether any of the rest of the world would care. If they refuse to extradite, the point is moot.

      In this particular case, I see little reason not to extradite. His actions would be illegal pretty much everywhere, which is one major factor to the extradition process. Prosecutors could simply assure they will not seek the death penalty (assuming it's even possible; it depends what he would be charged under) to defuse another. Though it's debatable on a philosophical level, the vast majority of these nations also recognize our legal system as fair and capable of a fair trial, defusing another. If the US really does have a sealed indictment, it's already declared that he has, in fact, engaged in behavior that can be reasonably construed as breaking US law insofar as being deserving of bringing him to trial. I see no reason for other nations to second guess that declaration as a matter of policy, which means they would be making exceptions for Assange and quite frankly opening themselves up to problems in the future in terms of equal protection within their jurisdictions.

      How did they get the indictment? I don't know. We haven't seen it, obviously, assuming it even exists. We don't know what it's for, so it's hard to even speculate. I've seen some interesting theories with regard to the Espionage Act. Quoting a law professor's interpretation of the act, it "prohibits the willful communication, delivery, or transmission to 'any person not entitled to receive it' of 'any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.'" That certainly seems to apply, at least superficially enough to bring to trial. Assange's propensity for running his mouth and making comments about how he hopes to bring governments down makes it awfully hard to backtrack on his intent as well. You can probably manage jurisdiction pretty easily since the information was originally hosted on, and thus disseminated from, Amazon servers -- Amazon being an American company and the servers likely, at least in part, on American soil. And that's just one way. (The whole article is interesting if you want to read it [msn.com]. You can see each parties' biases shine through, but they all bring up a lot of good points that would be raised at trial.)

      I'm not making any judgments about the case itself, by the way. I'm simply saying that whether or not he should be brought to trial or should be extradited is not nearly so simple an issue. In fact he probably should be; I think the burdens on that end have been met. The better questions are whether he should be prosecuted and if he is, if he should be convicted.

      If it goes to trial, there are a ton of huge issues. First Amendment protections; the definition of journalists; the requirement of intent; application of not only the law but First Amendment protection itself to foreign nationals (on foreign soil); the very definitions of espionage themselves. I think he has a lot of damn good defenses -- probably more than enough to generate reasonable doubt. I simply believe they should be adjudicated in the United States if you United States makes those allegations. The other burdens to extradition are met in my mind.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:34PM (#39186067)
        Should Terry Jones be extradited to Afghanistan for burning the Quran?
        Any arab would say that burning a Quran should be illegal pretty much everywhere.
      • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:53PM (#39186271)
        You still don't make sense. He Doesn't live or was living in the US when he obtained these files! US law doesn't apply to him! ex: It is legal here for me to be nude when I buy groceries, can you tell me how as US court can prosecute me for that if I buy from an American owned chain in Italy ? Not any kind of legislation can make this man guilty. His intents, the objectivity and fairness of the American justice system are irrelevant, there is no case to start with.
        • You don't get to get out of the law just because you are somewhere else. For example suppose I get your bank account password and steal all your money, but I do it from a different country. Not a crime where I am, even though the act probably is it wasn't done in their jurisdiction so not a crime there. Doesn't matter, your country can still extradite me to face justice (provided our nations have extradition treaties, which most do). I can't hide behind a border. Same deal if I ordered someone in your count

    • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:38PM (#39186107)
      Say there is a Russian spy who recruited an American soldier to steal military secrets, took them from him through a secure internet channel and 'distributed' them to foreign intelligence services. Your post applies to him as well:

      He did not steal the files! He is not an american citizen! And when he did obtain the files, he was not on American soil! And he is not bound by any law prohibiting the distribution of these files, and certainly not under any NDA.

      Do you get it now?
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:13AM (#39185157)
    He's also on Double Secret Probation.
  • Great, Stratfor claims to have a "secret indictment."

    Well, where's the indictment? Leak that document.

    • RTFA. Whom do you expect to "leak that document", Stratfor?
    • by Hartree ( 191324 )

      "Stratfor claims to have a "secret indictment.""

      I doubt Stratfor has a secret indictment.

      From the wording it looks like Burton is using "we" to refer to the US government/country. Burton had heard that there was a secret indictment from some source.

      I don't know if it's true, but would anyone really be surprised if it was?

      So far, these amazingly revealing internal Stratfor emails have been a damp squib. If these are the selected "smoking guns" we're in for a replay of Geraldo Rivera and Capone's Vault.


  • And in other news that everyone already figured out... OJ Simpson *did* actually kill his ex wife. President Bush lied about WMD in Iraq to make his case for his invasion. Republicans are trying to sabotage the economy to make sure Obama doesn't get re-elected. And Waldo wasn't in the picture at all.
  • No evidence. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_demiurge ( 26115 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:17AM (#39185209) Homepage

    Based on the rest of the Strafor emails, there's quite a high possibility that this is just made up.

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:25AM (#39185287)
    Has done the world quite a service by exposing these secrets of what is misbehavior by governments. He hasn't really done anything that could put the lives of anyone in jeopardy. On the other hand, he has put some career politicians and bureaucrats in jeopardy of losing their freedom and they deserve it too. This man should be given a pulitzer or nobel prize for his work. He and his team's work have exposed the lies told by governments and it is high time the public really knows what misdeed their officials are up to. If Obama really didn't want to deliver transparency to the government, Assange will hold him to that campaign promise.
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:31AM (#39185361) Homepage Journal

    Admit nothing, deny everything and make up counter accusations.
    Now we know where the US Government gets its ideas to make crap up.

    How about the tax payers telling government where it is going to spend tax payers taxes? The system is already there for tax collectors and processors to direct each tax payers tax revenue to where each tax payers instructs. This will solve a great deal of problems with an out of control rouge government.

    As a tax payer I do not approve of my taxes being spent by the government funding lies and deceptions that hurt innocent people.
    Who are the tax payers who do? Can I get a list?

    According to the Declaration of Independence it is the tax payers right and DUTY to put of government not serving the interest of the people and to form a new governance that will. And that is in the works - i.e. http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/ [nycga.net]

    For those who do not know, you can support Wikileaks, using your credit card or paypal by simply buying sponsor items (see wikileaks site for donations) such as a T-Shirt for $100 where the profits go to funding Wikileaks. And this is called Free Enterprise.....

    • by crawling_chaos ( 23007 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:46AM (#39185493) Homepage

      an out of control rouge government.

      Good thing that people who rant about out of control government are always so reasoned and intellectual about it. They'd never post poorly proofread rants with dubious historical analogies or anything.

      Replacing one set of loons with another, even loonier set is not an improvement.

      • an out of control rouge government.

        Good thing that people who rant about out of control government are always so reasoned and intellectual about it. They'd never post poorly proofread rants with dubious historical analogies or anything.

        Maybe by using the term 'rouge government' he was implying that the government has been taken over by Communists?

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:20PM (#39185895) Homepage

      Who are the tax payers who do? Can I get a list?

      Well, the sad thing is that when US citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed with a missile without the slightest pretense of judicial due process, most polls suggested that about 65% of Americans approved, including substantial majorities of self-identified Democrats and self-identified Republicans. So by all appearances, US citizens don't actually care about whether the government follows its own rules.

      This is obviously a scary fact, but something many totalitarian rulers discovered a long time ago is that the masses are generally fine with government oppression so long as they keep them distracted (with TV, iPhones, etc), target minorities that are small enough that they can't fight back (e.g. Japanese-Americans or German Jews), or create a subset of the population that thinks of themselves as privileged (members of the political party, following an established religion, dominant racial group, etc) and will fight to defend that privilege. Hence this comment from the 1930's: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."

      • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:37PM (#39186091) Homepage

        "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

        -- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

        http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.asp [snopes.com]

        I know, godwin. Whatever.

  • My understanding of such matters is that indictments are kept secret so that the subject doesn't go into hiding or otherwise take steps to avoid arrest. Do you really think Assange isn't aware of the US' desire to get him? Through the court system, extraordinary rendition, or just a sniper.

    The fact that he is being indicted should be somewhat of a comfort in that the intent is to give him his day in court rather than in someone's crosshairs.

  • When I glanced at that headline I actually parsed it as

    "US persecutors have a sealed indictment .."

    Well maybe that's more truthful ;-)

  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:43AM (#39185471)

    When the American government pulls moves like this, it proves it is the greatest threat to liberty in the world. The bland malevolence of the sociopathic gangsters running the United States right now puts the acute and minor threat of 3rd world terrorists shooting guns to shame. The latter kills scores, the former kills millions. And the former's threat is all the more intractable because of all the sheeple who shut up and do as they're told in the commission of the crimes.

  • by anonieuweling ( 536832 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:48AM (#39185533)
    Duh, as if that was a surprise.
    Now what do they really think will happen if they would sentence Manning and Assange?
    Would their (USA) secrets be more safe due to this?
    Nope. Plenty of people that can and will leak.
    So it all depends on their (USA) security policy.
    Not the theatre stuff we see from DHS, TSA in all types of places but the security policy in IT and on diplomatic levels.
    So the USA lost to wikileaks and is pursueing something that will gain them nothing. Not even their honour.
  • I would be more worried about being extradited by the British. Gary McKinnon & Richard O'Dwyer face possible jail time in US prisons and they are British subjects.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:25PM (#39185957) Journal
    While I believe that Manning should be tried and executed, Assange is a different matter all together. He is not American and can not be tried for this. Fencing in stolen goods perhaps, but not for other matters.
    • by AGMW ( 594303 )

      While I believe that Manning should be tried and executed ...

      I am deeply saddened by that, but each to their own. I'd say he should be tried, and during that trial all the leaked documents should be examined and if it was in the public good that they be leaked (eg cover up of the gunning down of civilians) then they should count in the "plus" column. Ultimately, I think his bravery quite possibly warrants a medal. To stand up and be counted, to be the David to the US Goliath, to fight for Truth, Justice & The American Way!

      If my government had been hiding evide

  • by ffflala ( 793437 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @02:53PM (#39187791)
    From TFA:

    "Stratfor intelligence analysts on January 26 last year, the company's vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, responded to a media report concerning US investigations targeting WikiLeaks. He wrote: "We have a sealed indictment on Assange."

    So Burton, a Stratfor VP, as "a sealed indictment"? Money & influence aside, on one at Stratfor has the power to directly indict anyone. If Burton is telling the truth, it means that someone committed a crime... by leaking a sealed indictment.

    So here we have a prosecution team going after Assange for leaking classified information. In the course of doing so, someone on their team has leaked sealed information. Was it some ideological troublemaker, hell-bent on making secret government information public? Sounds like Assange!

    Whoever it was, should really go after that person was. You know, for leaking sealed information. Which they seem to believe is a crime.

To be is to program.