In a stunning new report, CNN has just revealed, according to anonymous sources at least, that US authorities have prepared charges and will seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for intelligence leaks dating all the way back to 2010.
US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN.
The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.
This latest revelation comes after CIA Director Mike Pompeo ramped up the Trump administration’s rhetoric against WikiLeaks describing it as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” earlier this week. Ironically, as we noted this morning, Pompeo’s comments can just days before the FBI and CIA admitted that they are searching for an “insider” at the CIA (not a Russian) who exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.
Last week in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, CIA Director Mike Pompeo went further than any US government official in describing a role by WikiLeaks that went beyond First Amendment activity.
He said WikiLeaks “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”
“It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s comments were, of course, met with an immediate snarky reply from Assange over twitter.
For the past several years, U.S. prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange. In fact, in what now appears to be a very prescient opinion piece, Julian Assange recently penned an article in the Washington Post defending his publications by saying that his motives are “identical to those claimed by the New York Times and The Post.”
Quite simply, our motive is identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post — to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the U.S. Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media. And we strive to mitigate legitimate concerns, for example by using redaction to protect the identities of at-risk intelligence agents.
During President Barack Obama’s administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn’t alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. Several newspapers, including The New York Times, did as well. The investigation continued, but any possible charges were put on hold, according to US officials involved in the process then.
All that said, CNN’s sources seem to believe those same prosecutors have now found a way to move forward…though we’re sure the New York Times won’t receive similar arrest warrants.
Of course, it’s unclear what immediate purpose the charges will serve given that Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the sole purpose of avoiding political persecution. That said, somehow we suspect that some form of ‘leverage’ is about to be applied against Ecuador to help them ‘remember’ that they have other immediate and critically important uses for Assange’s London bedroom.