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Julian Assange Still Faces Legal Jeopardy In Three Countries (chicagotribune.com) 234

Though Sweden dropped an investigation into rape allegations against Julian Assange, "I can conclude, based on the evidence, that probable cause for this crime still exists," chief prosecutor Marianne Ny told reporters in Stockholm. An anonymous reader quotes Newsweek: Ny stressed in her statement Friday that the investigation could be reopened before the statute of limitations on the case expires in 2020. If Assange "went into British custody, then the Swedes may well revisit their decision ⦠as extradition is suddenly easier", tweeted legal expert David Allen Green. Assange failed to answer a bail hearing when he took refuge in the embassy, resulting in an active warrant for his arrest by London's Metropolitan Police, punishable by up to a year in prison. Foremost of Assange's concerns is possible extradition to the U.S., where he he could be detained on espionage charges... Ecuador has offered Assange asylum should he be able to leave Britain.
Meanwhile, The Chicago Tribune reports that "a federal inquiry is widely assumed to be underway by prosecutors in Virginia." According to a former senior Justice Department official, who requested anonymity to discuss the Assange case, American authorities are now presented with a "cat and mouse game." "The decision on whether to indict him rests largely on whether they can get their hands on him," the former official said. Indicting the head of an organization such as WikiLeaks presents a huge number of First Amendment issues, but the Trump White House has indicated such issues may be less of a hurdle than during previous administrations. Prosecutors could seek a sealed indictment -- or may have one already -- to be unveiled if and when Assange strays within reach of American law enforcement, the former official said.
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Julian Assange Still Faces Legal Jeopardy In Three Countries

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  • um... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    " Indicting the head of an organization such as WikiLeaks presents a huge number of First Amendment issues, but the Trump White House has indicated such issues may be less of a hurdle than during previous administrations. "

    Unless the constitution has changed since he took office, the only way the hurdles should be any less is if he plans on ignoring said constitution.

    I can see that happening for some reason.

    • Re:um... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @02:32AM (#54461507)

      Unless the constitution has changed since he took office, the only way the hurdles should be any less is if he plans on ignoring said constitution.

      Obama would have violated the Constitution (he was trying to w/Assange and has a number of times while in office regarding other topics) in a heartbeat to prosecute Assange. It wouldn't matter who was POTUS or if they were (R) or (D). The US has become an authoritarian oligarchy. Oligarchies like the US and other authoritarian regimes will not tolerate having their misdeeds exposed and will go to extreme lengths to retaliate against any who dare, as we've seen both here with Assange and with Snowden.

      The US is no longer a nation of laws but of men with power. Government violates constitutional rights and responsibilities on a mass scale with almost no regard and little consequence. High crimes of the elites go unpunished while those who expose the wrongdoing are persecuted, prosecuted, and imprisoned or killed unless they seek asylum in a non-friendly foreign nation.

      This is no longer the United States. While we were all busy being apathetic and living life through the TV the US was replaced under our wide-as-a-La-Z-Boy asses with an elitist oligarchy.

      The only question now is, will we do anything about it besides whine using 140-character hashtag virtue-signaling?

      Strat

      • Re:um... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @05:12AM (#54461769)

        The US is no longer a nation of laws but of men with power.

        Hm. Tell that to the judge who smacked down Trump's muslim ban.

        There's no doubt Trump would love to implement something similar to Putin's kleptocracy, but he's stupid. So there's that.

        • Re:um... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by phayes ( 202222 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @06:37AM (#54461977) Homepage

          It took Putin a while to beat down dissent. The sad part about Russia is that even though it was corrupt, they had a functional democracy and a free press for a few years. All murdered/imprisoned, now.

          • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
            It's particularly sad that they largely seem to be quite so proud about all of that. I guess it's easier than facing up to the reality; you live in a monarchy now.
            • by phayes ( 202222 )

              s/monarchy/fascist dictatorship/. North Korea is arguably a monarchy but I haven't heard a peep about the fruit of Putin's loins being primed to inherit his titles.

              • I guess you have never heard of elective monarchy.

                • by phayes ( 202222 )

                  Elective Monarchies are a transitory state, besides Fascist Dictatorship by the former/current members of the USSR's Intelligence communities is clearly a better fit. Current day Russia hits all the high and low notes of Fascism.

                  From Wikipedia:
                  Fascism /fæzm/ is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce ...
                  Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobili

                  • That might be, but the current role of the orthodox church in Russia goes very clearly the same way as it used to be during the monarchy. I won't be surprised at all if Putin becomes "appointed by god" in a few years.

      • Re:um... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @09:20AM (#54462551) Homepage Journal

        Obama would have violated the Constitution (he was trying to w/Assange and has a number of times while in office regarding other topics) in a heartbeat to prosecute Assange

        So why didn't he? You talk as if Assange was holed up in an embassy throughout the entire Obama years. He wasn't.

        TBH, I don't think there was any strong desire to see Assange arrested and tried in the US by the Obama government. You can make all kinds of claims about the degree to which any US government, Obama, Bush, or Trump, was lawless, but actually imprisoning someone requires a trial, and it's far from clear there'd be any grounds and evidence to convict Assange. The most likely result of an unconstitutional extradiction followed by a trial on dubious charges is a humiliating acquittal.

        The claim Assange made was even more ridiculous: he was in hiding because Sweden would extradite him with the aim of then extraditing him to the US rather than prosecuting him for an actual crime they believe he committed. Why would the US want him for a flimsy trial they were unlikely to win if Sweden could actually imprison him legitimately? And if they really are that stupid, why wouldn't the UK just extradite to the US directly, given the UK is far more friendly to the US than Sweden is?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dbIII ( 701233 )
          You are writing as if the rule of law would be followed. Consider "extraordinary rendition" - Assange is considered to be in the same domain as the people who were subjected to that and not in the legal domain. The silly case that's never going to trial despite evidence being gathered was just a pretext, because the evidence is still not even enough to lay charges. He was going to be extradited for questioning about something that is not even a crime where you live and not for trial remember.
          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            Your citation of "extraordinary rendition" doesn't refute what squiggleslash wrote. If Obama or Bush for that matter had wanted Assange through external rendition, they would have had him. That they didn't just proves Assange's justifications to be straw men.

      • by guises ( 2423402 )

        Obama would have violated the Constitution (he was trying to w/Assange and has a number of times while in office regarding other topics) in a heartbeat to prosecute Assange.

        If there's anything that recent events should have thought you, it's that the president does not control the justice department.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          it's that the president does not control the justice department.

          Sometimes I'm not even sure he controls his own mouth.

  • It seems ridiculous that Sweden is effectively keeping their fingers crossed while saying they're dropping the charges. You know, unless he leaves the embassy so they can get him, then they'll immediately charge him again.

    Can someone in Sweden please clarify if this is legal?

    • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @01:23AM (#54461421) Homepage

      I'm not in Sweden, but from other more knowledgeable sources, I'm led to believe that this is indeed legal.

      Really, very little has changed. The charges have not been dropped. Rather, the case has been suspended. In fact, the official statement [aklagare.se] sounds more like Sweden is saying "there's nothing else to do unless he comes out", so they're not putting more resources into the investigation until new options present themselves.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I live in Sweden and you are partly correct.
        The charges have been dropped, but the reason is because they cannot get any further in the investigation. This is quite common practise, unfortunately, and it means that if that condition changes (for example if Assange would turn up in Sweden) they might find that they can get further and can reopen it.
        So you might want to call it suspended but the case is dropped and there are no current charges against him, but that could change at any time if the circumstance

      • Yeah, the "charges were dropped because we're unable to continue the investigation for now" thing seems mostly third party spin, analogous to "MP3 is dead because they're not offering licenses for it any more."

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        The charges have not been dropped

        He's never been charged so how can they be dropped?

    • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @02:01AM (#54461461) Homepage Journal

      They're not dropping the charges. They're dropping the investigation and arrest warrant.

  • Bizarre (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @01:22AM (#54461419)

    Maybe it's just me but I think it's bizarre that the US wants prosecute someone that was never in their jurisdiction nor attempted to help one country over another. It wreaks of tyranny.

    • Re:Bizarre (Score:5, Informative)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @01:37AM (#54461439) Homepage Journal

      Why do you think that's bizarre?

      US is routinely acting as an order by phone hitman for various governments, where there has been no attempt to arrest and prosecute the target before flaming them up with a hellfire missile without a trial, in areas and countries that are not deemed to be warzones(as far as refugee statuses go at least).

      Majority of the targets are labeled as terrorists(anyone opposing the local authority who has the phone line to USA is an terrorist, mind you) and USA has no way of verifying any of that - indeed majority of the targets are in fact just local tribe leaders(some of them bad, objectively) and the bombings are just acting as a scapegoat hitman in local politics of the region - and if some of those local tribes then consider them to be in war with USA, who can blame them?

      compared to that, them having a secret warrant for his arrest sounds downright civilized.

    • Maybe it's just me but I think it's bizarre that the US wants prosecute someone that was never in their jurisdiction nor attempted to help one country over another. It wreaks of tyranny.

      As Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" said; "Welcome to the party, pal." I see that your MSM-delivered "Soma" has worn off. Grab a weapon and get in the trenches!

      Strat

    • Or rather it reeks of the Media, which is strangely willing to let Mrs. Clinton slide by for failing to protect classified information, trying to claim that the US has any interest or ability to try him.

      We have no grounds. As you noted, he is not in our jurisdiction. Nor did he actively solicit the information he published. It was handed to him by others who chose of their own free will to steal classified information they were entrusted with. Those individuals (Bradley Manning and Snowden for example)
      • the Media, which is strangely willing to let Mrs. Clinton slide by for failing to protect classified information

        LOL! What does she have to do with anything? Are you one of those people that got stuck in the past? Do you want to talk about how Trump had a "larger" inauguration crowd too?

  • Secret justice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 22, 2017 @01:39AM (#54461441)

    The US secret justice system, with secret orders, inquiries, etc is really a beautiful mark of democracy...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 22, 2017 @01:46AM (#54461447)

    It sounds like Ny playing politics.

    Ny: "Dropping the investigation is not a result of deciding he is not guilty, Ny added -- it's because there's no practical way to continue it. "

    The woman only pressed charges when he refused an aids test, and she cannot remove consent AFTER THE FACT, which is what her and Ny tried to do. She cannot change it to conditional consent either, after the fact. i.e. its OK to have sex without a condom as long as you have an aid test afterwards, made no sense.

    Ny should be more professional and less political.

    As for Assange, he evaded the extradition and will face charges from that. In the USA, he's simply a conduit for Russian propaganda leakers, if he wasn't the conduit, some other conduit would be used. If it was PasteBin, would PasteBin be prosecuted? Nothing to see there.

    • by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Monday May 22, 2017 @03:40AM (#54461615) Homepage Journal

      she cannot remove consent AFTER THE FACT

      That's begging the question. Of course she can, if the consent was given on false information or under duress. That is why there is a case to be answered in the first place, to establish that, using proper procedures, in a court of law.

    • It sounds like Ny playing politics.

      Firstly, the Swedish Prosecution Authority is not politically appointed in the way, say, a US District Attorney is.

      Secondly, it's the duty of the law enforcement authorities to investigate complaints and bring prosecutions where there is reasonable grounds to do so.

      All that has happened here is that the prosecutor has said there's nothing further to be done with the case at present as the investigation is effectively stalled while one party is inaccessible as he is refugee from justice abetted by a nation s

    • Ny should be more professional and less political.

      Ny? From what I can see the UK high court agreed with them when applying UK laws.

      But you seem so convinced of the facts of a case before even going to court. Are you some kind of super judge? What's your secret? Telepathy? Or should we simply all be happy that you're not part of the legal profession?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Assange may have to wait for a change of government in the UK to get out of that embassy. Once the government changes the new Home Secretary can just call their predecessor and idiot was botching the whole thing and wasting millions of Pounds, and then let him take a direct flight to Ecuador.

      The other option is to fight the charges of skipping bail in the UK. He can now argue that there was in fact a genuine threat of the US trying to extradite him, legally or otherwise, and that the court made a mistake in

  • It is painfully obvious that the charges in Sweden against Assange were only brought because someone in the Swedish government wanted to curry favor with the US. This type of sex charge is almost never used in Sweden; it is extremely rare.

    So after Trump is elected, Sweden hates Trump and drops the charges. They don't want to do anything to help Trump. Their behavior is unrelated to the nominal charges, it's all about their political position.

    They have chosen this path to save face and to keep their option

    • You have to understand (ok, or not) how a campaign to damage reputation always succeeds. With an orchestrated or spontaneous effort to damage someone a lot of things are thrown at the wall in the hope that something sticks.
      The effect is that the moral credit of the target is reduced. People use a kind of moral accounting where they can be tolerant for a person's fault to a certain degree. Such a campaign reduces that tolerance.
      Because of that people are much less forgiving to perceived faults, and they also

    • It is painfully obvious that the charges in Sweden against Assange were only brought because someone in the Swedish government wanted to curry favor with the US. This type of sex charge is almost never used in Sweden; it is extremely rare.

      That's probably because Swedish men know how the system work and don't do that kind of shit. It's painfully obvious that Assange did badly misbehave, in a way that would find him guilty of rape, if proven according to the standards required in Sweden. And a UK court agreed with that. It's also painfully obvious that he jumped bail in the UK, and that's a crime that he ought to go to court for in the UK.

    • Given that Putin wants to destabilize Western democracies it is hard to see Assange as a victim.

      America is not a Democracy. It is an Oligarchy. You were doing so well until this point! Why on earth would any world leader not want America destabilized? Right now we're doing our level best to run the whole fucking world as our empire. We have military bases everywhere and if you don't do what we say, we'll fucking bomb you.

  • US arrogance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @03:27AM (#54461595) Homepage

    US prosecution is a bit laughable. Assange did not steal any documents - they were given to him. As a non-US citizen, not resident in the US, all of whose actions took place outside of the US: he is clearly not subject to US jurisdiction.

    I'm sure the US would love to prosecute him, but doing so would be a mockery of justice.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > m sure the US would love to prosecute him, but doing so would be a mockery of justice.

      Sadly, this business model is becoming trendy (again) these days. The US isn't there yet, but their president is trying hard.

    • US prosecution is a bit laughable. That criminal in Estonia did not steal your credit card numbers - they were given to him. As a non-US citizen, not resident in the US, all of whose actions took place outside of the US: he is clearly not subject to US jurisdiction.

      I'm sure the US would love to prosecute him, but doing so would be a mockery of justice.
  • If the US is trying to "back door" a "Official Secrets act". If you don't know what that is, it's a law in some jurisdictions that even if you are not sworn to protect secret information, and have no officially granted access to it, you are bound to preserve it's secrecy. Such laws are a prior restraint on free speech to those that did not agree to preserve secret information. While President Obama had a dismal record on this subject, the Trump Administration is on course for an even worse record on free sp

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The US tried that with the Pentagon papers. Once in the hands of the US media, press its protected.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      So its very hard for the USA to go after the press in the USA, a profession that has constitutional protection.
      The clandestine agencies get around that by going after the whistleblower. Anyone working for the US gov, mil has to consent to a lot of color of law efforts to keep them away from US courts, media, investigations.
      Any issues are to be reported internally. Inve
  • Nothing's changed, Assange is still practically incarcerated indefinitely under threat of being extradited to the US, just how the US government wants it. This sets an example for other whistleblowers, blow the whistle and we will lock you up forever, if not in an actual prison then in an embassy if you're lucky. First there were the rape charges, then there are the failure to appear in court charges, next it'll be violating a housing code or something.

  • Like the non-pardon of the Collateral Murder leaker, this is a PR stunt designed to pressure Assange into leaving the embassy. Puts him in the headlines for a couple of days.

    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      Sorry, this is a non-event. The only real events are when the Anointed One, the divine Assange seizes the microphone to render the holy truths: ME ME ME ME!!!!

  • ... Morocco, Indonesia or some other country without a US extradition treaty needs to request extradition of Assange for a traffic violation. He needs to submit to that extradition request, be taken to that country, pay the fine and disappear onto the city streets there.

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