Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Assange supporters outside the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where has been for over a year. (Photo: Vertigogen/cc/flickr)

Anonymous Assurances Bring No Comfort to WikiLeaks' Assange

Andrea Germanos

Recent reporting citing unnamed officials stating that the Justice Department is unlikely to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange offer no real assurance, the organization says, and urges the DoJ to "do the right thing: close the investigation and formally and unequivocally tell WikiLeaks that no charges will be brought."

On Monday, the Washington Post reported:

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.

The officials stressed that a formal decision has not been made, and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impaneled, but they said there is little possibility of bringing a case against Assange, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top-secret military and diplomatic documents.

According to the paper, the officials said there was a “New York Times problem,” meaning that if the DoJ prosecuted Assange for publishing classified documents, it would have to prosecute other news organizations who have done the same, like the Times and the UK's Guardian.

Ahead of that story, the Washington Post also reported this:

Federal prosecutors have not filed a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, despite persistent rumors that a nearly three-year-old grand jury investigation of him and his organization had secretly led to charges, according to senior law enforcement sources.

“Nothing has occurred so far,” said one law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. “But it’s subject to change. I can’t predict what’s going to happen. The investigation is ongoing.”

Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola points out that the wording of the second paragraph was changed from its original form, and originally read:

"Nothing has occurred so far,” said one law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. "If Assange came to the U.S. today, he would not be arrested. But I can't predict what's going to happen. He might be in six months."

Gosztola writes that "The 'law enforcement official' was either being flippant or inadvertently revealed that the Justice Department is still working on its investigation and could reach an indictment in six months."

The Washington Post story appears with this clarification:

This story was updated to include a quotation that was substituted for one that appeared in the original version online. The quotation, attributed to a law enforcement official, was replaced with another from the same interview because the original quotation created the erroneous impression that the official was saying Julian Assange would not be arrested if he came to the United States. The official said Assange would not be arrested on U.S. charges. He did not address any possible extradition request from another country.

In a statement released Tuesday, WikiLeaks responded to the "much-hedged statement by someone who cannot be identified claiming that the government may not indict Julian Assange for publishing" as providing no real assurance to either their organization or to anyone else interested in a truly free press.

Further, the statement continues:

The anonymous assertion that Julian Assange may not be indicted for publication of classified documents, even if true, only deals with a small part of the grand jury investigation. That investigation has been primarily concerned with trying to prove somehow that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were involved, not merely in publication, but in a conspiracy with their sources. There is also the question as to the status of the DoJ investigations into WikiLeaks involvement in the Stratfor and Snowden matters. [...]

Rather than caveat riddled claims from anonymous officials with undefined motivations, the government ought to do the right thing: close the investigation and formally and unequivocally tell WikiLeaks that no charges will be brought. Despite our lawyers' repeated requests, they refuse to do so. Presently, the situation for WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange remains unchanged. Perhaps with such an assurance this dark chapter for freedom of the press can be closed.

___________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'What the Hell is Wrong With Them': GOP Senators Kill $35 Cap on Insulin

'Republicans told millions of Americans who use insulin to go to hell.'

Common Dreams staff ·


World Faces 'Loaded Gun' on Hiroshima's 77th Anniversary

“We must ask: What have we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city?”

Common Dreams staff ·


'Extremely Concerned': Shelling of Europe's Biggest Nuclear Power Plant More Worrying Than Chernobyl

Ukraine said parts of the facility were "seriously damaged" by Russian military strikes.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Backsliding on Democracy': Indiana Governor Signs Extreme Abortion Ban Bill

'The extremist lawmakers who forced this bill through a special session clearly could not care less about what their constituents want or need.'

Common Dreams staff ·


After Kansas Win, Abortion Rights Advocates Call Ballot Measures the 'Next Frontier'

"Ballot initiatives are a phenomenally powerful tool when there's a disconnect between the popularity of an issue and what's being enacted by politicians," said Kelly Hall of the Fairness Project.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo