back to article WikiLeaks' Assange to be indicted for spying 'soon'

US prosecutors plan to file spying charges against Julian Assange soon in connection with the publishing of secret diplomatic memos on the WikiLeaks website. Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson told ABC News that charges would be brought “soon” under the US Espionage Act. The law makes it a felony to receive national defense …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Making law up to fit your goals... one of the distinguishing features of raging fascist/socialist regimes.

    But the saying which is applied to WikiLeaks is apposite...

    "We already knew all this, it's nothing new".

    Ashcroft, Yoo, Holder? Freisler is cackling in hell.

    OTOH, Assange is not even a US citizen. Oh hold on, we are ALL US citizen now! Or maybe anticitizen.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      you dont have to be a citizen of the country to break the law...

      You knew this was coming.

      The key is that Ass-n-age knew what he was doing, and did so regardless of the consequences. Its going to be interesting to see how the military tribunal is going to work out for the poor sod who bought in to Ass-n-age's BS.

      Oh and the law had been on the books long before Ass-n-age was even a gleam in his daddy's eye. (Actually long before his daddy was born for that matter.)

      Don't let the facts get in the way of your posts...

      The first amendment doesn't protect him either. What he did went well beyond the protections afforded by the law.

      1. Dagg

        Yes you do

        Because if not I can guarantee that by merely existing you personally will have broken at least one law in some other country. Just look at some of the laws that exist under islam. Have you ever kissed a woman in public, if so you have broken a law!

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        @Ian Michael Gumby / you dont have to be a citizen of the country to break the law...

        "you dont have to be a citizen of the country to break the law..."

        Yes you do, or you at least have to be living in that country at the time. That's the point and scope of laws, they're only applicable to certain geographical areas. In case you haven't figured it out yet, "Team America - World Police" was a film lampooning the absurd attitude that some US citizens have that their Puritan laws apply outside the borders of the US.

        You *personally* are, almost without any doubt, a criminal according to a lot of laws around the world. In effect, would you agreee to being personally shipped to *every* country in the world - all of who's laws are, regardless of your personal preferences, legally as valid as where you happen to be born to live and tried according to local laws and customs?

        Thought not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not sure about the 'Socialist' bit!

      Fascist most certainly!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, that isn't one of the distinguishing features of socialism, you cretin.

      Been dining on Fox this week?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        RE: Socialist?

        Really? Someone oughta have told Stalin, Mao and Mugabe then!

        1. Corporate Mushroom

          RE: Socialist?

          Or indeed Hitler, given that he was leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Unless they added the 'National Socialist' part in 1920 just for a laugh?

          Facism and socialism are not mutally exclusive ideologies.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            you shouldn't need telling, but...

            If you actually knew any history, you would be aware that US and European corporate interests including coal owners funded the Nazis. On gaining power the Nazis were keen to make Germany safe for capitalism by arresting the actual socialists and suppressing independent trade unions. I don't think Krupp et al were exactly afraid of any 'socialism' that might come from a right-wing dictatorship.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Do you really think that ...

          ... purposefully misconstruing taxonomies is either witty or insightful?

          To play your game, murder is one of the defining characteristics of any rightwing government. Just ask Milosevic, Pinochet, Franco, Salazar, Khomeini, Suharto, Botha, etc, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        @John Dee

        Did you miss the 'fascist' bit, or did you ignore it so you could through out your boilerplate response? As for not being 'one of the distinguishing features of socialism', for the last 13 years we in the UK were governed by a supposed 'socialist' leaning party (I know that they weren't really, but Labour are supposed to be, at the very least, the party of the people) and they passed more legislation in that period that in the previous 20-odd years, much of it at the expense of our civil liberties. No I know you'll make the vacuous counter claim that NuLab weren't really 'socialist' etc., to which I'll pre-empt by saying grow up dickwad.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No I didn't miss it.

          OP: "Making a woofing noise is one of the distinguishing features of dogs/cats."

          JD: Only a cretin would say that about cats.

          You then go on to generalise from the particular, which is beneath everyone concerned, before arguing against your own thesis ("I know that they weren't really").

          Perhaps you'ld like to grow up and not add to the growing trend of treating socialism, communism, liberalism and fascism as equivalent and interchangeable.

    4. Otto von Humpenstumpf


      Freisler? Can I invoke Godwin on that one?

    5. Scorchio!!

      Re: Making law up to fit your goals...

      Receiving stolen goods that happen to be state secrets is plain stupid, especially if the receiver expects to get off scot free. It's more than receipt of stolen goods, however, and it is more than espionage; it is an act normally associated with a hostile power. If Assange wishes, as a private individual, to go to war with the US, then he can expect consequences. Moaning and whining childishly about his rights, that he is not a US citizen [...] is pointless; he has engaged in activity that the US government clearly, and within its rights, regards as hostile action.

      If Assange is lucky he'll get some holly with his porridge. Ditto his accomplices.

      Downloading classified information is not like pirating MP3s. So the mentality underlying these sorts of behaviours would appear soon to receive a large reality check.

  2. hplasm Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Here we go.

    After the first opening moves of the pawns, the game enters stage two.

    Just as predicted.

  3. Turtle

    About time, too.

    Good. And if they can't imprison him, they can examine his finances and where the money comes from and where it goes, and what else he's doing that does not make the news.

    1. skicow


      Good idea -- lets find a way to punish someone, not because he has broken any laws, but because we don't like him. Sounds like a great way for a country to behave.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Umm, no..

        But if he's so keen on full disclosure I don't think there's anything wrong with disclosing his details either. Fair is far. We already know he has a poor brand of condoms, but I'd really like to know just how much money he is making with, well, supporting crime.

        There is a gulf of difference between whistleblowing and what Wikileaks does.

      2. Graham Wilson

        @skicow - Correct, empires begin to fail when they behave this way.

        Correct, empires begin to fail when they behave this way. The Roman Empire fell when long-established laws and customs were changed on a whim.

        The Jeffersonian logic upon which the US was built has deserted it.

        Let's only hope for everyone's sake the US comes to its senses soon.

      3. Scorchio!!

        Re: yes

        Did you expect the US government to say 'thank you very much Mister Assange, may we wait for you on your doormat tonight, when you return from your busy day at the office?'. Their electorate will demand action and, if only because of that, Assange's hostile activities are going to be the subject of punishment.

        I'll order some fresh popcorn I think. It is now becoming more interesting than even I had foreseen.

    2. Graham Wilson

      @Turtle - Marksman, where did you learn to specialize in targeting messengers?

      Marksman, where did you learn to specialize in targeting messengers?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Thats how they got Al Capone.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    It would be the end of western democracy...

    if they send Assange to prison in the US. Literally, I am serious. Or perhaps the official confirmation of the end of democracy.

    1. asdf Silver badge


      You mean 8 years of the Bush administration pushing the UK and allies to be evil didn't confirm it for ya?

    2. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      Assange's very public metaphorical flogging is a warning to us all from our leaders

      @AC: ”It would be the end of western democracy”

      You say “the end of western democracy” yet Wikileaks have already provided us with absolute confirmation our leaders (in every country) lie endlessly to us (so our leaders can get their own way and so they show they don't really work for us), which is already shocking proof Democracy doesn't really exist. But even worse, it also shows in hindsight its always really been a lie. So really its been endless lies for centuries (But then Niccolò Machiavelli tried to tell us this 5 centuries ago. Yet for all that time people like us have still believed way too many of our leaders lies; not realising the extent of their lies. But now Wikileaks (and technology like the Internet) is finally showing us their lies. So no wonder our leaders want to utterly punish and destroy Assange very publicly).

      If that isn't bad enough, what Wikileaks is helping us see is the realisation that for centuries our leaders only reason to keep up the pretence of representing us and saying they do what we say, is that they know if they didn't keep up the pretence, the resulting unified mass public anger of millions of people against them and their lies would rapidly throw them out of power. Which is why they fear us seeing through their lies and deception. After all the people with the most, are also the people with the most to loose and so threatening what they have is the real "crime" they seek to punish Assange for (which is the real reason they hope to take him to the “land of the free” to stand trial under their US snooping act. After all don't snoop on them, as revealing the truth threatens to undermine their words and games to get more for them).

      But even worse, its not simply to punish Assange, but to very publicly metaphorically flog him in front of us all, to also send us all the same message, which is never oppose our leaders; never threaten what they have built up (for themselves). So that disturbing realisation of the message they are sending us all is a shockingly clear demonstration that we don't really live in a democracy at all. (Its so shocking because it limits the kinds of political system we really have, to the most frightening forms of political systems of state control, now we can finally see through our leaders lies).

      No wonder our leaders hate (and fear) what Wikileaks (and the Internet) is helping to confirm (because our leaders fear us knowing). Wikileaks is showing us our arrogantly self serving leaders are behaving at best like a Kleptocracy, but even worse, TheReg has been showing us increasingly shocking news for the past few years its becoming at best an increasingly Authoritarian Kleptocracy. Its this very obvious increasing aspect of the Authoritarian attitudes which is so frightening, because history shows Authoritarian Kleptocracies decay towards even worse forms of political state control. :(

      So "end of western democracy"? … What is happening is showing us we are way past that already! :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        So you didn't already know that politicians lie sometimes?

        And what's your solution - overthrow the politicians, and replace them with what, exactly?

        You reckon you could have a perfect /direct/ democracy in a country where there was a free capitalist media, always trying to get the population to vote in ways that suited them?

        If you had a controlled media, who does the controlling?

        1. MinionZero
          Big Brother

          The politicians lies & the importance of what the Internet (and Wikileaks) have done

          @AC : "So you didn't already know that politicians lie sometimes"

          I don't know how you can imply I "didn't already know"?! How on earth did you think I wrote that without already knowing?! ... I know they lie, its having the proof to convince all others our leaders lie endlessly, that has up until now been the difficult part. That is where Wikileaks comes in and part of the real reason why our leaders are so angry with Assange and Wikileaks. For a start proof of so many government lies destroys any chance for pro-authoritarian sycophants to keep covering up the government lies saying they don't lie, ironically thereby covering a lie with a lie. What Wikileaks has done now is destroy that lying game once and for all time. We now have mounting evidence against them. That is a starting point and one I hope future generations will look back in gratitude for when they hear about the starting decades of the Internet (and Wikileaks) and see it all as a turning point for fairness in this world.

          Which in part helps answer the rest of, I have to say AC, your condescending post. (I count 3 straw arguments in your post, AC poster, but I'm trying not to just be annoyed at your obvious attempts to dismiss everything I say and instead answering your points).

          "And what's your solution - overthrow the politicians, and replace them with what, exactly?"

          No, overthrow is one of your straw man arguments. Yet history shows overthrowing them doesn’t ever really work, as you just replace one bunch of two faced arrogant bastards in power with another bunch of two faced arrogant bastards in power. Therefore a new solution is required.

          The answer is we finally have the technology to monitor our politicians like never before and that is what we need to do (The Internet is already starting to do this). But we need more, much more deeply embedded into all governments to literally force Big Brother on to our minority of leaders, before they force it all onto us. They want Big Brother, so its time to give it to them!. If they want to work for us, then they do so in the open and before you believe their lies about they can't have all this data in the open, don't ever forget 3 million had access to that data. So in that 3 million every major government would easily have many spies, so they all know what every other government is doing and what they all think about each other!. THEREFORE THE ONLY PEOPLE REALLY KEPT IN THE DARK, ARE ALL OF US!, THE VERY PEOPLE OUR LEADERS SAY THEY REPRESENT!. We are the true target of their secrecy and lies, so they can get away with doing whatever they want and then lie to us about it.

          Well its time up. The leaks now prove beyond any doubt our leaders are such pervasive liars that they can't ever be trusted ever again in any way. So now they need to be policed far more closely from this point on and its the only way we can ever have a Democracy and if they don't like it, they only have themselves to blame. Their kind have betrayed our trust for centuries and each generation of them have thought they could just keep on getting away with it. Well no more. Now we have the technology to monitor our representatives and they don't need anywhere as many secrets as they seek to keep against us. Time to force Democracy on them.

          1. david wilson

            @The politcians' lies, etc

            >>"I know they lie, its having the proof to convince all others our leaders lie endlessly, that has up until now been the difficult part."

            Oh, I see, *you're* one of the enlightened few, but everyone *else* was too stupid to realise that politicians lie.

            What a low opinion of most of the rest of humanity you seem to have.

            Yet presumably you're relying on those people to demand things are done differently in future.

            How many of those people do you think actually care about the bulk of the released information?

            >>"Well no more. Now we have the technology to monitor our representatives"

            Well, you have the hope that the governments you don't trust an inch who have dominated the proles for centuries will learn nothing about data security and will allow the same situation to repeatedly happen in future.

            Maybe you think that despite managing to fool most people most of the time, they're *also* nowhere near as bright as you are?

            1. MinionZero

              @david wilson

              People have expertise in different areas, such as studying psychology & history, but don't let that fact get in the way of your attempts to misrepresent what I was saying.

              For example, try reading up on cluster B personality disorders which shows their manipulative lying ways. Try reading up on history which shows the ways people in power behave throughout history. Assange is being demonised like a modern day Guy Fawkes and if some in the US government got their way, they would have him executed and this news for them, is him being dragged one step nearer the gallows.

              But if you think the entire population already knows all this, then close all the schools and universities.

      2. scrubber

        Authoritarian Kleptocracies decaying

        I wonder what the half-life of an Authoritarian Kleptocracy is?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    So they can't easily extradite this group of arsebiscuits for publishing classified information *very publicly*, but they can drag McKinnon across??

    To be fair, in the UK the Official Secrets Act applies to all UK citizens, but it'd hardly be fair for us to apply it to citizens of other countries, so I can kind of see the point they're making. On the other hand, that would make the charges against Pte Manning far more serious.

    Most of the leaks don't even deserve a 'meh', but watching the trolling and astroturfing aint half fun!

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      the Official Secrets Act applies to all UK citizens

      No, it can be applied to any UK Citizen if they're in a position to know anything covered by it, but unless you're in that position you're not subject to it. Because you don't know anything.

      If it does apply to you, you generally have to sign it, otherwise you wouldn't know what you couldn't do, and that's too Kafkaesque even for us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        It applies to all, although as you say, if you're not in a position to know the info it doesn't really affect you. There's a big difference between being subject to a law and being affected by it!

        The bit you sign is not the OSA but in fact a confirmation that you understand the restrictions/responsibilities.

        Ignorance is no defence under the OSA, or indeed any other law. We're all supposed, somehow, to know exactly what is and isn't legal. Fair? No, but thats the way we roll apparently.

        The link you posted is a very basic guide to the OSA, if you look at a more detailed explanation you'll see. I've signed it more times than I care to remember, and have read up on it each time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Assange deserves the Nobel more than Obama

          Funny how what is normally called obstruction of justice is called official secrets when it comes to the government

    2. Steven Jones

      McKinnon is different

      McKinnon hacked into computers. Whatever Assange has done, nobody has seriously suggested he has done that. The Pentagon Papers ruling determined that journalists would only have committed an offence if they had solicited such a break-in into classified systems. However, it does seem that the US authorities are attempting to change the rules and limit the definition of a journalist so it does not include those with political motives.

      1. david wilson

        @Steven Jones

        >>"However, it does seem that the US authorities are attempting to change the rules and limit the definition of a journalist so it does not include those with political motives."

        Just for the moment, ignoring the disturbing attempted extraterritoriality, and how damaging the information may be (since we haven't seen it all yet), there's a tricky point there.

        Let's just imagine for the moment we're talking about an American journalist/organisation, who have published something that many people would think was at least pushing the boundaries.

        If there is an absolute 100% protection for journalists, then you could end up with a situation where someone receiving classified information [allegedly] harmful to a country's interests can be prosecuted if they don't tell anyone, or only tell a few people, but not if they're going to tell everyone and claim they're a journalist.

        Surely, there's some kinds of classified information where that wouldn't make any sense?

        On the other hand, if there isn't absolute protection, the government can potentially pick off people it doesn't like.

        Maybe in the end it comes down to a jury decision about whether there was information with minimal journalistic value being released for malicious reasons.

        For example, if someone published a list of names of informers, where there was no obvious public interest but which put people in danger, people might think that was something that was outside the bounds of protection for journalism.

        Even if someone had actually published thousands of obviously protected articles, that may not necessarily prevent action being taken over even one or two that were considered to go too far.

        It would be an odd situation where someone could call themselves a journalist and claim privileges a normal citizen couldn't, but was not in return expected to live up to some minimum standard of professional responsibility to qualify for the protection.

        While it might not be easy to define such standards, and it seems to make sense to err on the side of journalistic freedom, there would be some kinds of information release which would be enough to make almost anyone think that a person had crossed the line.

        Since Assange claims that information is being redacted, presumably *he* has a personal line which *he* doesn't think can be crossed while still calling information release justifiable journalism.

        Ultimately, it may come down to where someone sets their own line, and maybe where they think potential jurors might set theirs.

        1. Steven Jones


          @David Wilson

          It would be interesting to see what the US response would be should one of their citizens publish something covered the Official Sercrets Act or whatever equivalents exist in various countries. I rather suspect that any extradition request on those grounds would get short shirft in the American Courts as it would most certainly be covered by the first amendment.

          The Pentagon Papers judgement did not appear to depend on the sensitivity of the data. It appeared to be based on the means by which the data was received. In other words if the journalist had hacked his way in, or directly solicited the information, then he would have been culpable. However, if such papers were just handed over, then he was within his rights to publish them.

          Of course the real issue about extra-territoriality is the ability to enforce it, which when it comes down to it depends more on political relationships and factors as anything else. Personally I doubt that Assange would ever get extradited from Sweden to the US. I'm personally very grategul that the Swedes will probably have to deal with the political fall-out rather than the UK.

          1. david wilson

            @Steven Jones

            >>"However, if such papers were just handed over, then he was within his rights to publish them."

            Is that truly an unlimited right?

            If a local communist sympathiser had been freely given atom bomb plans in the late 40s and hadn't passed them on to the USSR, but had published them for everyone to read, or if someone US Muslim today published lists of access codes/passwords for sensitive infrastructure or military hardware that they hadn't sought but which someone had mailed them, I'd suspect that there'd be at least an attempt at prosecution, particularly if the person concerned had made anything that could be taken (or portrayed) as a threat to publish more in certain circumstances.

            As it is, I guess a deal might come down to what Manning says, or has already said - if he said (truthfully or not) that he was encouraged in any way to get more information, that might be something that would be seized on as indicating complicity unless the opposite could be proved

            I'm sure there'd be a significant desire to shift blame to the Manipulative Foreigner rather than the poor misguided local, if there's a chance of getting away with it.

            >>"Personally I doubt that Assange would ever get extradited from Sweden to the US."

            >>"I'm personally very grateful that the Swedes will probably have to deal with the political fall-out rather than the UK."

            Or whichever country he ends up in after Sweden.

            I can imagine that many places might think the easier option would be to refuse him entry, unless they actually wanted an argument with the USA.

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        McKinnon's real 'crime'

        was to cause embarassment to US military muppets who were sufficiently clueless to leave wide open holes in their computer systems - things like not changing default passwords. He did them a favour: he showed that they were deficient in a relatively benign way.

        The similarity with Wikileaks is that it is another case of shoot the messenger.

        1. david wilson

          @alain williams

          >>"The similarity with Wikileaks is that it is another case of shoot the messenger."

          Not quite the same - in McKinnon's case, the systems were insecure even to random outsiders, he wasn't actually breaching any trust which had been explicitly placed in him, and it doesn't seem like he actually released much sensitive material.

          It was the breaking-in and /alleged/ deletion of files which was the main 'crime', not the handling of information.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Umm, not quite

      The OSA is a law that also applies to foreigners.

      I had to sign it many times before I was given access to protectively marked information..

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Beggars belief

    Whether or not you agree/disagree with what this organisation has done, it beggars belief that the US think that they can hope to prosecute someone for doing something entirely in a foreign country, that is perfectly legal there.

    You've got to admire the gall of these people. Or not.

    1. Graham Wilson

      @skelband - Rules change when you are an empire.

      Rules change when you are an empire.

      Assange and WikiLeaks have shown that you don't need a star on the flag to effectively be a state.

  7. Bucky 2

    Someone Please Explain...

    ...why Woodward and Bernstein were heroes, but Assange is a villain.

    I don't understand the fundamental difference. Seriously. I'm not trying to make a political point. I actually don't understand the difference.

    1. CaptainHook

      Whats the difference?


      Watergate was about a few people in position of power going 'rogue'. Once the truth came out, it was easy for the rest of government to dump them and contain the problem.

      Wikileaks has provided evidence of the systematic illegality and arsehattery by the US government as a whole. Anyone is any position of power in the US government or diplomatic services is tainted.

      1. Chris 3

        The difference?

        "Wikileaks has provided evidence of the systematic illegality and arsehattery by the US government as a whole. "

        Oh, I thought it had leaked a whole lot of not-hard-to-find-but-usefully-in-one-place-now information on strategical cable landing sites, vaccine factories etc.

        My mistake.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        RE: Whats the difference?

        Actually it was because the people involved in the Watergate affair broke the law. So far, all the Wikileaks have shown us is a few embarassing conversations about allies, nothing on law-breaking activities.

        1. Galidron

          Law Breaking

          This came from Wikileaks and I think it implies breaking of the law.

    2. Marky W


      He's a pesky furr-ner (and probaby a stinky athiest to boot), not a god-fearing 'merkin patriot!


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