But his cat? Who will feed his cat, now?
April 11, 2019 2:59 AM   Subscribe

While twitter worries and his cat (possibly) looks on, Julian Assange leaves the Ecuador Embassy in London and is arrested. BBC News: “Mr Assange took refuge in the embassy seven years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. The Metropolitan Police said he had been taken into custody and will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court 'as soon as is possible'.” Guardian: “The home secretary, Sajid Javid, said: 'Nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorian embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law.'” (Previously and look after your cat)
posted by Wordshore (388 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ironically, Hillary Clinton probably would have let him off a lot easier than Trump will.
posted by Optamystic at 3:16 AM on April 11 [21 favorites]


@gfrancie: I am sure the embassy is going to have fun cleaning out that room.

@liamstack: Julian Assange is in the news again so I am going to retell the story about the time he flooded my friend's bathroom in Cairo in 2007.
posted by Wordshore at 3:19 AM on April 11 [16 favorites]


This guy is creepy on many levels. I am glad to hear he’s been arrested and, presumably, unable to interfere with any elections anywhere at least for now.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:21 AM on April 11 [23 favorites]


I suspect the UK won’t hand him over to the US. They’ll try him for offences committed in the UK, give him a short sentence (possibly commuted) and then deport him to Australia, banning him from re-entry. Australia, however, will inform the US embassy, and by the time his deportation flight touches down in Australia, the FBI will have a light plane waiting on the tarmac to collect him, without him so much as passing through Australian immigration.

One possible wrinkle: with the exception of a few London-Perth flights, all flights between the UK and Australia have a stop for refuelling, either in the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi or similar) or far east (Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok). Unless Assange is travelling under guard, he could use the stopover to make a run for it. On his passport, he might not get far, but if he is a GRU asset, they could well facilitate his exfiltration. (Or, more darkly, silence him by other means.)
posted by acb at 3:26 AM on April 11 [10 favorites]


Everyone's going on about his cat, but I'm worried for his poor (alleged) girlfriend, Pammy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:32 AM on April 11


Good news.
posted by spitbull at 3:45 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


I used to have a high opinion on Assange because the crimes WikiLeaks exposed (e.g. colateral murder) are a stain on our western democracies. I thought - and think - that our democracies are flawed and shining a light on their dark secrets can help make them better.

Turns out, though, that Assange wasn't motivated by making democracy better. Instead he is doing this to help bring our democracies down in favor of a fascist agenda.

Fuck him.
posted by patrick54 at 3:51 AM on April 11 [155 favorites]


Wouldn't it be the ultimate psy-ops troll move for the US to just decline to charge him? Imagine, he's kept himself cooped up in a tiny room for the best part of a decade, insisting that the US is going to arrange for his deportation. If they now come out and say, "actually, we're not clear that he broke any US laws," he would look like the most perfect plonker.
posted by atrazine at 3:52 AM on April 11 [31 favorites]


Video of Assange being arrested and more footage. The book he is holding.

@KhanUR1983: Julian Assange disguising himself as Uncle Albert from ‘Only fools and horses’ to avoid police recognising him. A for effort.

@quendergeer: does this mean there's a free SW1 flatshare going...

@quendergeer: ...ah who am I kidding it'll already be on airbnb for 700 quid a night.

@IrkthePurists: Love the fact that Julian Assange has a comedy 'seven years later' beard, like he's in The Goodies.
posted by Wordshore at 3:55 AM on April 11 [23 favorites]


I can imagine Julian Assange in the One Nation Party with Pauline Hanson and Mark Latham, he's not that strange compared to other people in the Australian Parliament.
posted by Narrative_Historian at 3:59 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


He looks awful - old, pale, and unwell. As though he’d been living in a cave.
posted by Segundus at 4:06 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


I’m interested in what Sweden will do. While it is generally reported that the Swedish sexual assault case was dropped, I’m pretty sure it was just suspended. Assange was cooped up in the embassy and refused all contact from the Swedish authorities, so they pulled the people from the case because they couldn’t get anything done. Now that he’s been arrested the case could get reopened.
posted by bjrn at 4:10 AM on April 11 [13 favorites]


Appaling.
posted by unliteral at 4:10 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


I suspect the UK won’t hand him over to the US. They’ll try him for offences committed in the UK, give him a short sentence (possibly commuted) and then deport him to Australia

Shipping their convicts down to the Colonies, I see. As in 1819, so again in 2019.
posted by Mayor West at 4:14 AM on April 11 [8 favorites]


Seconding patrick54, in that I was initially glad to see somebody exposing the warcrimes routinely perpetrated by our military-industrial complex, and considered him a bit of a hero for standing up to American imperialism.

That was pretty quickly blown to pieces when his behavior was exposed by the testimony of multiple women who were politically aligned with him (so: unlikely to be accomplices in a CIA smear campaign), and then his collusion with Russia’s efforts to get Trump elected took him from “terrible person in service to a good cause” to “really terrible publicity hound that doesn’t care how much damage he does or who he has to hurt in order to get headlines.”

There’s always been a tendency by US media to roughly equate Snowden and Assange, and if there’s one thing time has borne out it’s that the two are nothing alike. Snowden remains, based on everything we know, a whistleblower on gross violations of the Constitution within the NSA and arguably a patriot, whose only crime was correctly recognizing that the US intelligence services would silence him by any means possible, and any US administration would go to any lengths to make him an example of him, and acted accordingly. I strongly believe he did the right thing, and everything that’s come out in the years since has only served to demonstrate the moral chasm between Snowden and Assange.
posted by Ryvar at 4:14 AM on April 11 [132 favorites]


Julian Assange disguising himself as Uncle Albert from ‘Only fools and horses’ to avoid police recognising him. A for effort.

A few years ago, I went to a fancy dress party as “Julian Assange having slipped out of the Ecuadorian embassy in disguise”; I wore an old chequered suit, a flowing blond wig, and an obvious fake beard and novelty glasses.
posted by acb at 4:20 AM on April 11 [9 favorites]


Shipping their convicts down to the Colonies, I see. As in 1819, so again in 2019.

He's an Australian citizen and not a UK one, and it is standard practice in the UK to expel non-citizens who have committed offences above a certain level of severity.
posted by acb at 4:21 AM on April 11 [9 favorites]


Let's also remember that along with being a bad tenant, sex pest, and anti-democrat, Assange is a rabid antisemite and just generally a wanker. Hold him up as a hero all you like, but the folks I know in Melbourne who had to deal with him back in the day hated the dude.
posted by prismatic7 at 4:23 AM on April 11 [80 favorites]


He's an Australian citizen
In trouble overseas (not in favour with the current government) - good luck mate, you’ll need it.
posted by unliteral at 4:26 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


That was one heck of a perp walk.
Perp drag.
Perp carry.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:26 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


This is a freedom of speech / freedom of press issue surely?

It's an issue of evading arrest for sexual assault.
posted by Dysk at 4:27 AM on April 11 [72 favorites]


In trouble overseas (not in favour with the current government) - good luck mate, you’ll need it.

The David Hicks doctrine would probably apply in this case: Assange's Australian citizenship is effectively suspended as long as it gets in the way of the US doing what it needs to for national-security reasons, with consular officials instructed to not offer him any assistance.
posted by acb at 4:30 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


I’m still not over the fact that we heard about this potential indictment because someone mucked up drafting a brief and then didn’t catch it in proofreading before filing.

I have no sympathy for Assange, but will be very interested to see how the prosecutors deal with the First Amendment issues here; this is the classic example where an extreme situation and deeply unsympathetic central character could tempt us to embrace pushing prosecution to its extremes, which is usually bad for precedent.

There is a hell of a lot we don’t know yet.
posted by sallybrown at 4:30 AM on April 11 [16 favorites]


I suppose now might be the time to finally get around to watching that frankly terrible sounding Wikileaks film with Sherlock in it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:32 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Assange's Australian citizenship is effectively suspended as long as it gets in the way of the US doing what it needs to for national-security reasons, with consular officials instructed to not offer him any assistance.
What about duty of care of a citizen?
posted by unliteral at 4:37 AM on April 11


I’ve been hoping for this even back then, eons ago, when Assange was still an Internet darling. Even on Metafilter!

You don’t get to claim conspiracy and avoid charges of sexual assault. You don’t get a pass because people agree with you and you don’t get to decide that you shouldn’t be held accountable. Fuck the patriarchy and fuck this dude.
posted by lydhre at 4:39 AM on April 11 [66 favorites]


This is a freedom of speech / freedom of press issue surely?

It's an issue of evading arrest for sexual assault.


Couldn‘t it be both?
posted by The Toad at 4:41 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


It's not even a wiki!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:41 AM on April 11 [40 favorites]


John Pilger has an interesting take on the case.
posted by Kiwi at 4:42 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


I would be serenely untroubled by this except that it's obvious that he's being pursued on the sexual assault charge as a way to punish him for revealing information inconvenient to various powerful people and governments, probably with a lot of quasi-legal state shenanigans like the "send him to Australia where the US will nab him" stuff proposed above.

If this ends up as "whoops, turns out the Swedish case is still open or else you get tried on whatever associated charges are still open, you're going to receive a standard sentence and then get sent home to Australia, and nothing shady will happen there", I will be fine with that. Assange is obviously a creep and a bad actor and he's done great harm to whisteblowers in general. But I am completely opposed to using fake concern by sleazy right-wing governments over sexual assault to winkle him out and do something unprecedented and shady, even though he's a creep and a bad actor.

I am willing to believe that Sweden actually cares about the sexual assault charges, but I do not believe that the UK or the US do, because they have no history of caring when powerful people commit sexual assault.
posted by Frowner at 4:43 AM on April 11 [49 favorites]


I suspect the UK won’t hand him over to the US. They’ll try him for offences committed in the UK, give him a short sentence (possibly commuted) and then deport him to Australia, banning him from re-entry.

Please, dog, no. After all his Trump cheerleading, we don’t want him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:44 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


John Pilger has an interesting take on the case.

For those not aware, he contributes frequently for RT.
posted by sallybrown at 4:46 AM on April 11 [27 favorites]


well at least now we get to find out whether he was just “claiming conspiracy” to avoid facing justice for sex crimes, or whether he will indeed be extradited to the US

I expect his detractors will continue asserting the former even as they applaud the latter
posted by moorooka at 4:46 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


What about duty of care of a citizen?

The current Australian government doesn’t care about anyone except themselves, let alone a contoversial character caught up in a complex situation that is on the top of the US shit list, on the day they called an election that they will struggle to win. They have done nothing for him over the last few years. Assange will undoubtably be on his own.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:47 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


I am willing to believe that Sweden actually cares about the sexual assault charges, but I do not believe that the UK or the US do, because they have no history of caring when powerful people commit sexual assault.

The UK cares about reciprocal extradition law, which basically means that it cares that Sweden cares.
posted by Dysk at 4:50 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


UPDATE: Julian Assange has been further arrested in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of the United States authorities. He remains in custody at a central London police station.

Well, that answers that part.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:50 AM on April 11 [9 favorites]


on the day they called an election that they will struggle to win
This could turn the whole thing around!!!
posted by unliteral at 4:51 AM on April 11


From the Guardian live blog on the arrest:

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said it will issue a statement on Julian Assange’s arrest later today.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, lawyer for one of the two women who accused Assange in 2010, told Swedish media:

"My client and I have just received the news that Assange has been arrested. That’s what we have been waiting and hoping for for almost seven years has now happened as clearly a shock to my client. We will do everything we can to ensure that the prosecutors resume the Swedish preliminary investigation so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape."

When Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny dropped the Swedish investigation into the allegations in May 2017, she stressed that the investigation could be reopened if Assange returned to Sweden before the statute of limitations on the rape allegation against him ends in August 2020.
posted by Wordshore at 4:53 AM on April 11 [30 favorites]


What about duty of care of a citizen?

In such cases it makes more sense to consider Australia as a set of penal colonies and military fortresses, with a thin veneer of liberal-democratic decoration draped over the fortifications. As such, there is no duty of care. You can pretend there is one if it makes you feel better, as long as it doesn't get in the way of security or operational matters.
posted by acb at 4:54 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


genuinely interested as to what fascist agenda you write of?

There's pretty strong evidence he worked with Russian intelligence and coordinated with the Trump campaign to smear Hillary Clinton and get Trump elected.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 4:57 AM on April 11 [52 favorites]


John Pilger appears to be operated from the GRU's “Lenin's Beautiful Dream” desk, which manages old leftists for whom Washington is the source of all evil, and anything that stands against Washington is a beacon of freedom and equality.
posted by acb at 4:57 AM on April 11 [17 favorites]


Julian Assange has been further arrested in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of the United States authorities. He remains in custody at a central London police station.

Wow, just like he said they would. How surprising. They really blew their chance to make him look stupid.
posted by moorooka at 5:01 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


There's pretty strong evidence he worked with Russian intelligence and coordinated with the Trump campaign to smear Hillary Clinton and get Trump elected.

And now watch the Trump administration reward this agent of fascism by totally not extraditing and charging him. What more evidence do you need.
posted by moorooka at 5:06 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


Julian Assange has been further arrested in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of the United States authorities.

He may be a terrible human being, and a crypto-authoritarian tool for the Russians, but he wasn't wrong to think that this was never about sexual assault in Sweden. He was never going to stand trial in Europe for anything, it appears.
posted by bonehead at 5:08 AM on April 11 [10 favorites]


Because, as we know, Trump always honestly rewards those who serve him, and has done so since his casino-building days.
posted by acb at 5:09 AM on April 11 [32 favorites]


Assange is a jerk, and an antisemite, and all that, and it still doesn't make it OK to keep him under arrest for sex crimes when the real reason was that he annoyed the US. And now the UK is going to extradite him to a country with legalised torture, executions, and the world's most extensive set of secret gulags. It's appalling.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:10 AM on April 11 [16 favorites]


On his passport, he might not get far, but if he is a GRU asset, they could well facilitate his exfiltration. (Or, more darkly, silence him by other means.)

John Pilger appears to be operated from the GRU's “Lenin's Beautiful Dream” desk

Maybe it's time to ease up on the adderall, craft beer, and game theory.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:14 AM on April 11 [14 favorites]


Wow, just like he said they would. How surprising. They really blew their chance to make him look stupid.

This is going to be a real goat rodeo, that's for sure.
posted by atrazine at 5:14 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


If Trump wins in 2020, it'll be interesting to see if he can resist the urge to pardon Assange (his base loves Assange, given the assistance that he and Wikileaks gave to Trump's 2016 campaign). It'll piss off the U.S. intelligence establishment to no end, but I have little doubt that Wikileaks has plenty of material damaging to Trump and GOP individuals/interests sent to them by their Russian handlers that they'll start releasing if Assange doesn't get a "get out of jail" card.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:18 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Dump the dirt labelled 'Lindsay Graham' please
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:20 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


“Sex crimes” are still fucking crimes. Can we stop minimizing sexual assault, please?
posted by lydhre at 5:28 AM on April 11 [163 favorites]




Assange is a jerk, and an antisemite, and all that, and it still doesn't make it OK to keep him under arrest for sex crimes when the real reason was that he annoyed the US.

Assange wasn't on house arrest. He was avoiding facing those charges. He's not Liu Xia, he's Roman Polanski.
posted by kewb at 5:37 AM on April 11 [132 favorites]


And he claimed that the reason he was avoiding facing those charges was because of the risk that once in custody he would get extradited to the US to face other charges relating to the publishing of state secrets. What a paranoid conspiracy theory.
posted by moorooka at 5:40 AM on April 11 [9 favorites]


Swedish prosecutors: This is news to us too, so we have not been able to take a position on the information that is now available. We also do not know why he is under arrest.

It is clear that Assange is not being arrested based on the sexual assault charges and that he will not be prosecuted for those charges as a result of this arrest. He is being arrested for sharing diplomatic cables with The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the New York Times.
posted by enn at 5:41 AM on April 11 [21 favorites]


Can we stop minimizing sexual assault, please?

I would put it to you that the folks most abusing the sexual assault charge in this case have been the UK and the US authorities. Sweden can, at their option, reopen the case at any time through 2020. They were not even notified of the arrest or the intention to arrest supposedly on their behalf.

I cannot but conclude that this is a cynical manipulation of the justice system for political ends. The fact that there is a victim in Sweden who has a complaint that should be heard appears to be beside the point.
posted by bonehead at 5:52 AM on April 11 [11 favorites]


“Sex crimes” are still fucking crimes. Can we stop minimizing sexual assault, please?

I agree, but apparently the UK authorities don't actually care about sexual assault except when it's convenient. They cynically used it as an excuse for arresting Assange, but when they finally arrested him they didn't even bother telling the Swedish authorities. That's what outrages me; I wouldn't have had a problem with him being extradited to face charges in Sseden.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:54 AM on April 11 [13 favorites]


This is a cynical manipulation of the justice system for political ends. The fact that there is a victim in Sweden who has a complaint that should be heard appears to be beside the point.

It was always cynical. Point me to perpetrators of sex crimes in Europe who have the same resources dedicated to extraditing them and bringing them to justice. You can't. Because they don't expend those kind of resources for regular ass people. They never did and never will. It's a slap in the face to all women who are victims of sex crimes in Europe and it always was. It was never a stand against the patriarchy. It was the patriarchal oligarchy using the language of feminism to fuck with someone they didn't particularly like. I can't think of a deeper "fuck you" to the philosophy of feminism than twisting it for these ends.

That's what outrages me; I wouldn't have had a problem with him being extradited to face charges in Sweden.

Fucking exactlty. But that was never really on the page. The Grand Jury he is getting sent to has been in session since before the sex crimes charges.
posted by deadaluspark at 5:55 AM on April 11 [19 favorites]


My sympathy to the cat.
posted by cstross at 6:00 AM on April 11 [45 favorites]


Turns out, though, that Assange wasn't motivated by making democracy better. Instead he is doing this to help bring our democracies down in favor of a fascist agenda.

This is exactly my thinking. I first heard of him when the footage of the helicopter shooting civilians was exposed and I thought YES! and assumed that he wanted to expose wrongdoing.

Turns out he's just a jerkoff who likes stirring shit up for stirring shit up's sake. He has no admirable political beliefs. He's just like someone doing it for the lulz and consequences are never at the forefront of his thought processes.

I hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars.
posted by dobbs at 6:00 AM on April 11 [21 favorites]


It's not at all beside the point when the entire conversation has been, for seven damn years, how the sexual assault charge is not a good enough reason to hold him accountable.

I understand, please believe exactly HOW much I understand, that "regular" cases of sexual assault are not prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Fighting the patriarchy is about fighting the attitudes in this very thread, that dismiss and minimize the very crime he was accused of committing in the first place. I would like to see more action when it comes to prosecuting sexual assault, not less, and yes, that includes Assange because not taking this seriously is exactly why we get Brett Kavanaughs claiming that raising his history of sexual assault at a hearing meant to verify his fitness for the Supreme fucking Court is just politically motivated.
posted by lydhre at 6:01 AM on April 11 [83 favorites]


And he claimed that the reason he was avoiding facing those charges was because of the risk that once in custody he would get extradited to the US to face other charges relating to the publishing of state secrets. What a paranoid conspiracy theory.

If the US wanted to extradite him at that time, they could have done so from the UK directly as they have now done.

He is being arrested for sharing diplomatic cables with The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the New York Times.

That's possible but actually quite a difficult legal case to make under American law compared to the later ones where he was more actively in contact with leakers as they were leaking and/or in contact with hackers working for the GRU. This may also be why they didn't try and extradite him at that time - it may be that they didn't feel they could convict him on those charges.

According to the Guardian, The Home Office has confirmed the US request for Assange’s extradition is for an alleged “computer-related offence”.. That sounds more like a conspiracy charge related to Guccifer/GRU than an espionage charge but I'm sure we'll see in the next few days.
posted by atrazine at 6:02 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


it may be that they didn't feel they could convict him on those charges.

The Obama administration declined to pursue the charges because it would have dismantled American journalism and essentially made it a crime to publish leaked documents, because the decision would apply to places like the New York Times as well. They could have pursued charges, and they chose not to because of the implications of the legal outcome of doing so.

The Trump administration has no such qualms with totally fucking over the media's ability to do its job. In fact, they are absolutely dedicated to dismantling the US press' ability to do its job. So color me unsurprised if they go after him for the leaks in 2010 with intent to destroy journalism.
posted by deadaluspark at 6:05 AM on April 11 [28 favorites]


On another note: I don't think he's going to be treated well by the Trump administration. Partly because Trump is entirely self-serving and not likely to reward a now-powerless figure but mostly because the shady far right members of the Trump administration don't like whisteblowers generally or the rule of law generally, and they will be happy to crack down on him for broader reasons. If Assange actually thought that he would get some advantage from far right allies, he was stupider than I assumed.
posted by Frowner at 6:06 AM on April 11 [12 favorites]


He's been arrested in England & Wales for breach of bail. This is consistent with the rule of law in this jurisdiction and proportional to the notoriety of the case.

It goes without saying that the case is notorious for other reasons, but I feel pretty confident that European Arrest Warrants for sexual assault are routinely acted upon in all 3 UK jurisdictions.
posted by ambrosen at 6:07 AM on April 11 [17 favorites]


Ironically, Hillary Clinton probably would have let him off a lot easier than Trump will.

Are you kidding me? He probably came out now so he could be extradited to the U.S. and get a full pardon before the 2020 elections.

Trump has zero reason to dislike this guy.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:10 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


DOJ: WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Computer Hacking Conspiracy

They're charging him with the Manning leak, specifically that he actively helped Chelsea Manning crack passwords to gain access to data.
posted by PenDevil at 6:13 AM on April 11 [8 favorites]


If the US wanted to extradite him at that time, they could have done so from the UK directly as they have now done.

Yes we’ve been hearing this line ever since he first went into the embassy. I guess the US must have got the idea from him.
posted by moorooka at 6:13 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.

Don't say we didn't call it, this thread is just a few hours old, and we literally just said they were going to go after him for this.


Trump has zero reason to dislike this guy.


He doesn't dislike him, he just sees an easy way to dismantle US journalism basically permanently. Surprisingly, the liberals will cheer for this destruction of freedom of press.
posted by deadaluspark at 6:14 AM on April 11 [11 favorites]


For those not aware, he contributes frequently for RT.

Which doesn't automatically mean his views here are invalid, but I accept that his antipathy to western governments and news media gets a little shrill.

(Although considering some of the stuff he was reporting on in the 70s and 80s I can see why)
posted by Kiwi at 6:14 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Also: zero loyalty.

Trump's dealings with other people appear to be purely instrumental. And it does look like Assange is a spent asset, and unlikely to be of further use to Trump whilst alive and well. Which means that, if he is of any more use as a grim deterrent to whistleblowers, that will prevail. And even if not, he is now a loser, and Trump has only alpha-dog contempt for those (see also: John McCain).
posted by acb at 6:14 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


his base loves Assange, given the assistance that he and Wikileaks gave to Trump's 2016 campaign

This is not a good understanding of Trump's base. The "fact" that Assange and Wikileaks won the election for Trump (or even played a material part in that victory) is very much an echochambery thing among a subset of Dems/liberals. Trump's base sees Assange as a bizarre, gross, anti-American guy who is an avatar of everything that is wrong with leftist anti-American radicals. If cynically pretending to like and defend him can temporarily irritate and annoy the people who they get off on hurting they'll do so, with a smirk, but don't make the mistake of thinking that they see the election in the same way that you do.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:15 AM on April 11 [25 favorites]


Trump's base sees Assange as a bizarre, gross, anti-American guy who is an avatar of everything that is wrong with leftist anti-American radicals.

"Wikilieaks, I love Wikileaks!" - Donald Trump
posted by PenDevil at 6:17 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


If cynically pretending to like and defend him can temporarily irritate and annoy the people who they get off on hurting they'll do so, with a smirk,
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:18 AM on April 11 [10 favorites]


Sigh, people's biases are very much on display this morning. Until I saw that he's going to the US and not to Sweden, I was actually hopeful Assange would get what is coming to him without having to face bullshit US charges and the daily torture that is the US prison system. (Or worse, a CIA black site, but I have some hope that someone in the Trump Administration is bright enough to see that going that far would be unproductive)
posted by wierdo at 6:18 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


I'm still gonna go HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH on this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:20 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


From the DoJ press release:

Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:20 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Text Messages Show Roger Stone Was Working to Get a Pardon for Julian Assange

And Mueller was investigating the Trump campaign's links to Wikileaks via Roger Stone: Mueller Indictment: Roger Stone Communicated With Senior Trump Campaign Officials About WikiLeaks
The Stone indictment contends that starting “in or around June and July 2016” Stone informed the Trump campaign that WikiLeaks possessed documents that could be used as ammunition against Clinton. Stone “spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about” WikiLeaks “and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign,” Mueller alleges, noting that Stone was also “contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by” WikiLeaks. The New York Times has reported that Stone traded emails with Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon in October 2016 concerning a press conference by Julian Assange, during which many expected the WikiLeaks founder to announce the release of Clinton documents. The indictment suggests that, in addition to Bannon, other high-level campaign officials were in contact with Stone about WikiLeaks. And it contends that, after WikiLeaks July 22, 2016 release of records hacked from the Democratic National Committee, “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton Campaign.” This raises the obvious question of who told the campaign staffer to reach out to Stone.
It's odd timing to say the least that Assange's ejection from the Ecuadorian embassy finally occurred less than a month after the SCO probe was wrapped up.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:22 AM on April 11 [12 favorites]


Here's hoping Ecuador at least got something nice in the deal. Something in addition to getting rid of Assange, that is.
posted by sfenders at 6:23 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


From a January 2019 article in BuzzFeed News: But each meeting raised new suspicions that the US was doing more behind closed doors to force the Ecuadorian government to hand over Assange. Was it a coincidence that Assange’s communications were cut a day after a visit by a high-profile US Southern Command official? Was it suspicious that Ecuador’s commerce minister announced that negotiations with the US on a long-postponed free trade deal would resume right after a visit from a State Department official? What about Foreign Minister Jose Valencia’s meeting with Pompeo right as the Manafort stories were coming out?

Those suspicions are often stoked by the Spanish-language versions of the news sites Russia Today and Sputnik, which speedily translate and republish the latest developments reported in the US and British press with provocative headlines that prod well-known pressure points in Ecuador.


As I may have mentioned in the past, I once saw this guy's OK Cupid profile. Years ago, when he still had one. I am sorry I did not keep a screen shot for posterity. I am worried that the women he sexually assaulted (you are welcome to assume his innocence until proven guilty; I'm not going to bother) in Sweden will never get their day in court. It sucks that this guy is an asshole on so many different axes (as are Trump and his administration) that the crimes against these women will probably never be prosecuted. I very much want to be wrong about this.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:23 AM on April 11 [23 favorites]


The US are charging him with computer-hacking (maximum sentence: 5 years). Not sure of the restof the details, but it seems closer to GRU/Guccifer than to der Trumpenführer moving to crush the Lügenpresse.
posted by acb at 6:29 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


He may be a terrible human being, and a crypto-authoritarian tool for the Russians, but he wasn't wrong to think that this was never about sexual assault in Sweden. He was never going to stand trial in Europe for anything, it appears.

I believe the women who accused Assange of sexual assault, and I think claiming that those charges were politically motivated is... uncool, to say the least. And while I do agree that the US charges stemming from the Manning case are bad, at the same time, the current state of affairs is entirely Assange's own fault. Had he stayed in Sweden and faced the charges resulting from his own choice of actions there, he would have been primarily arrested and at least first facing the valid and serious sexual assaults charges. Instead, he ran from these charges directly into the arms of the politically motivated charges.
posted by eviemath at 6:29 AM on April 11 [50 favorites]


Just to be clear, I may be biased from having been on the wrong end of the very same charge at one point in my life, i have pretty strong feels about how the law is used.

Given Assange's activities, I was skeptical of him being charged in Sweden, but that was my own bias and misunderstanding of Swedish law talking. It didn't take long for it to become clear that the investigation in Sweden was very real. I bet he's wishing he had just gone to Sweden right now. He'd have had a lot better chance avoiding being handed over to the US that way than he will under May's government who is desperately trying to curry favor with Trump so as not to get screwed on a post-Brexit trade deal.
posted by wierdo at 6:30 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


The US are charging him with computer-hacking (maximum sentence: 5 years). Not sure of the restof the details, but it seems closer to GRU/Guccifer than to der Trumpenführer moving to crush the Lügenpresse.

Manning. It's about Manning. Julian helped crack a password for her.
posted by scalefree at 6:34 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


The US are charging him with computer-hacking (maximum sentence: 5 years). Not sure of the restof the details, but it seems closer to GRU/Guccifer than to der Trumpenführer moving to crush the Lügenpresse.

I don't know if I have the emotional resources to really explain why charging leakers of hacked material as though they were, themselves, hackers is a serious issue for the press, but it is. It's one thing if this guy is facing five years; it's another thing if a journalist at the NY Times ends up facing five years (or even worrying about facing five years) because a source is providing them with classified info.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:34 AM on April 11 [16 favorites]


Assange will get a pardon from Trump, give a press conference extolling the virtues of Trump's campaign against the deep state, retire to Australia wearing a laurel of Pepes

I hope the cat has an exfil strategy
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:36 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


I don't know if I have the emotional resources to really explain why charging leakers of hacked material as though they were, themselves, hackers is a serious issue for the press, but it is. It's one thing if this guy is facing five years; it's another thing if a journalist at the NY Times ends up facing five years (or even worrying about facing five years) because a source is providing them with classified info.

There's some pretty clear legal water between "I'll help you crack this password to escalate your privileges" and "thank you for this data that you've given me from a classified source". They may be charging him specifically with this to prevent it applying to the traditional press who would not do the former but would do the latter.
posted by atrazine at 6:37 AM on April 11 [18 favorites]


THE CAT WAS RE-HOMED LAST NOVEMBER! HOORAY!

We're going to be OK, everyone!
posted by schroedinger at 6:38 AM on April 11 [73 favorites]


@shellbelle1022: Proof that sunlight is pretty damn important. Assange was basically just a few more months shy of turning into Gollem.

Which does allude to a more serious point, that if you rarely or never go outside because you prefer banging away on the Internet night and (especially) day, then as well as the effects on your mental health, it's not going to be great on your physical health.

NHS guidance includes: "Your body can't make vitamin D if you're sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can't get through the glass."

tl;dr Angry MeFites: don't end up like this; go outside in the sunlight.
posted by Wordshore at 6:39 AM on April 11 [23 favorites]


He was warned about the cat care that October, so I am guessing it was taken away because he wasn't taking care of it. Poor thing.
posted by schroedinger at 6:40 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


There's some pretty clear legal water between "I'll help you crack this password to escalate your privileges" and "thank you for this data that you've given me from a classified source".

There's legal water there but it's not actually that clear. There tend to be ongoing relationships between sources and journalists and "conspiracy" is an extremely abuseable method of allocating legal responsibility between parties who are in communication with each other during the commission of an ongoing crime.

To be upfront about my own biases, though, I am extremely cynical about the way that prosecution works in the US and doubt whether it really adheres to anything close to the "rule of law."
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:43 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


There's legal water there but it's not actually that clear. There tend to be ongoing relationships between sources and journalists and "conspiracy" is an extremely abuseable method of allocating legal responsibility between parties who are in communication with each other during the commission of an ongoing crime.

He advised Manning on how to break a SIPRnet password, which she then did. There's no stretch of the imagination where that's a protected First Amendment activity.
posted by scalefree at 6:49 AM on April 11 [16 favorites]


Tools, actually cracking the password and supplying the cleartext, or mere words? That makes a pretty damn big difference.
posted by wierdo at 6:52 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


He advised Manning on how to break a SIPRnet password, which she then did. There's no stretch of the imagination where that's a protected First Amendment activity.

If the asserted facts are true, first of all. Assuming that they are as you say, I think that journalists typically enjoy a valuable buffer that gives them a lot of confidence when it comes to dealing with sources. I think that it's possible to chip away at that valuable buffer by prosecuting things that are not, themselves, actually protected activities, but which resemble protected activities. I think chipping away at that buffer risks producing a chilling effect wherein journalists avoid protected activities because they don't want to deal with criminal liability.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:56 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Reading the indictment this stands out:

"Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures."

They use of 'would' here makes it sound like Manning/Assange never actually cracked the password and downloaded further data.
posted by PenDevil at 6:57 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


From a purely legal point of view, this is going to be a fascinating show. Conflicts of law issues, primacy of charges issues, international law and sovereign immunity issues, and that's on top of all the 'simple' criminal charges. I'm sure there are answers to all of those, but sorting them out in court is going to be a fun exercise for us bystander legal types. There's a lot to go through, and it makes for very complex and esoteric legal problems to mull over.

Which is not to detract from the severity of this scumbag's crimes, of course. He belongs in jail, but just how we get him there and into which one makes for an interesting outlier case.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:58 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


This is how a journalist on Twitter explained it: The indictment makes it clear that this has nothing to do with the publishing of materials. Assisting someone to break the law and access classified information is not protected by the 1st Amendment or the SCOTUS 'NY Times vs. United States' decision. If true, this may be a smart way to charge the creep without endangering actual journalists (including bloggers and other non-traditional publishers).

As a former journalist, I have strong opinions about protecting the press. I also have strong opinions about breaking into classified material. As far as I can tell, that is not a legal thing to do and journalists do not need to help anyone do that in order to do their actual jobs.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:58 AM on April 11 [14 favorites]


And he claimed that the reason he was avoiding facing those charges was because of the risk that once in custody he would get extradited to the US to face other charges relating to the publishing of state secrets. What a paranoid conspiracy theory.

Given the US's recent history, facing charges in a federal courtroom is unambiguously the least bad outcome for him.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:00 AM on April 11 [8 favorites]


I think chipping away at that buffer risks producing a chilling effect wherein journalists avoid protected activities because they don't want to deal with criminal liability.

I appreciate your concern, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9. If current mainstream journalists and media types were anywhere near protected activities on the regular, I might worry more. As it is, in the US many MSM types are more-or-less transcribing or copy-pasting talking points handed to them by the Trump administration and/or Republican officials. That's how we got the massive "Mueller Report Exonerates Trump" style headlines everywhere for a while.

There are exceptions, but not many, and I find it hard to imagine that this particular risk to journalism is anywhere near as powerful or damaging as the current, traditional profit-driven system. Alas.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:04 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


Somehow Dennis Nedry comes to mind here—a loathsome man is about to be eaten by an even more loathsome man.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


Dude's a toerag. Doesn't deserve to be handed over the US. It shames the UK to do so.
posted by pompomtom at 7:06 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


They use of 'would' here makes it sound like Manning/Assange never actually cracked the password and downloaded further data.

Success is not a necessary component of a criminal act. Manning had Julian in a chat window & logged into SIPRnet to exfil classified files. Julian suggested breaking into another account to make it harder to trace & presumably gave details on how to do that. At that point he became an active conspirator in an ongoing crime.
posted by scalefree at 7:07 AM on April 11 [8 favorites]


I worry exactly not at all about the prospect of Assange facing the same U.S. federal court and prison system as Manafort, Stone, and Cohen.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:10 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


in an ongoing

...whistleblowing situation.
posted by pompomtom at 7:10 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


The US-UK extradition treaty says "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense. " (Article 4, section 1), which I assume will be Assange's argument in the UK courts, so it'll be interesting to watch that wend its way through.

(Also if Sweden decides to also request his extradition, the UK decides to whom to extradite him, based on severity of crimes, chronology of requests, practicality of trying him in both places, and how subsequent re-extradition by the US to Sweden or Sweden to the US would work.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:12 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


From a purely legal point of view, this is going to be a fascinating show. Conflicts of law issues, primacy of charges issues, international law and sovereign immunity issues, and that's on top of all the 'simple' criminal charges. I'm sure there are answers to all of those, but sorting them out in court is going to be a fun exercise for us bystander legal types. There's a lot to go through, and it makes for very complex and esoteric legal problems to mull over.

This completely byzantine situation is giving me law school exam flashbacks. I can’t be the only one.
Gonna need another bluebook.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:16 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


This completely byzantine situation is giving me law school exam flashbacks. I can’t be the only one.

Nope. Although because of the timing I actually had law school exam questions based on Trump-related hypos. Nothing more fun than trying to get a decent grade while trying not to think about people like you being racially abused and/or sexually assaulted.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:18 AM on April 11 [12 favorites]


The Byzantines were quite Weberian in their bureaucracy. The result of this shit-show will be entirely C21 oligarchical.
posted by pompomtom at 7:21 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


I am not a journalist and I don’t mean to cast aspersions on journalistic ethics in any way—but I do worry that this charge edges close for journalists who work with whistleblowers. Certainly they don’t typically advise them on how to break into classified systems, but I’ve seen many journalists (helpfully) explain how people can communicate with them in untraceable ways. When does the DOJ say, “Your Honor, this journalist may not have told the source to break into a computer, but without her explanation of how to transmit the material, the source wouldn’t have had reason to do so,” etc?

On top of that, if this is the only thing Assange ends up charged with, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a jury let him walk free. The jury won’t like what they perceive as the unfairness of Manning being at home for doing the thing Assange assisted her with, and they won’t like the fact that this could have been charged under the Obama Admin but didn’t get charged until now. They certainly won’t like Assange as a person but he will have great defense counsel who will tell this as a story of a witch hunt.

And if they’re using this to try and elicit information from him about more recent events, that’s all well and good but who wants to depend on a word Assange tells them? He has no credibility. He will never make a good witness.

What a mess. At least the cat is ok.
posted by sallybrown at 7:22 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


He was warned about the cat care that October, so I am guessing it was taken away because he wasn't taking care of it. Poor thing.
posted by schroedinger at 9:40 AM on April 11 [+] [!]


you have got to be kidding me :)
posted by bitteroldman at 7:27 AM on April 11 [44 favorites]


warned about the cat ...I am guessing...
posted by schroedinger


Maybe.
posted by pompomtom at 7:30 AM on April 11 [45 favorites]


The jury won’t like what they perceive as the unfairness of Manning being at home for doing the thing Assange assisted her with

Chelsea Manning is not at home, she is currently in jail (for refusing to testify before the grand jury whose indictment is behind this arrest and extradition).
posted by enn at 7:31 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


He advised Manning on how to break a SIPRnet password, which she then did.

Not sure that suggesting somebody might want to look around for monitors with Post-It notes stuck to them ought to count as an indictable offence.
posted by flabdablet at 7:32 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


I appreciate your concern, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9. If current mainstream journalists and media types were anywhere near protected activities on the regular, I might worry more. As it is, in the US many MSM types are more-or-less transcribing or copy-pasting talking points handed to them by the Trump administration and/or Republican officials. That's how we got the massive "Mueller Report Exonerates Trump" style headlines everywhere for a while.

We don’t need to worry about laws targeting journalists for exposing state secrets, because most journalists don’t expose state secrets
posted by moorooka at 7:36 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


It's an issue of evading arrest for sexual assault.

Yes, and it’s worth noting that the left is in the process of having its own #metoo moment right now. It’s why the ISO dissolved, and it’s happening in a lot of organizations as people realize that having one “superstar” is not worth the women they have assaulted along the way.

It wasn’t a good look when Assange claimed the accusations of sexual assault were manufactured by the CIA, and it wasn’t a good look when people believed it.

I hope he stands trial in Sweden and face justice there.
posted by corb at 7:39 AM on April 11 [37 favorites]



I worry exactly not at all about the prospect of Assange facing the same U.S. federal court and prison system as Manafort, Stone, and Cohen.


And Chelsea Manning
posted by moorooka at 7:40 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Chelsea Manning is not at home, she is currently in jail (for refusing to testify before the grand jury whose indictment is behind this arrest and extradition).

I apologize if it was unclear to you—I was referring to the commutation of her sentence for the underlying act Assange’s charge is based on.
posted by sallybrown at 7:41 AM on April 11


You know, I thought I'd care more when this day inevitably came. When Assange first got in trouble I believed in his kind of idealism. But the world has proven itself a more complicated place and Assange has proven himself despicable. So now I'm like "meh, there's other things that are more pressing to devote my caring to."
posted by Nelson at 7:49 AM on April 11 [8 favorites]


So now I'm like "meh, there's other things that are more pressing to devote my caring to."

So his strategy of waiting out the clock has worked pretty well then.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:54 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Prosecutors say Manning and Assange collaborated in stealing secret documents

[Manning] any good at IM-Hash (sic, should be LM-Hash) cracking?
[Assange] Yes. We have rainbow tables for IM (sic).
[Manning] [sends password hash]
[Assange] Passed it on to our guys.
posted by scalefree at 7:57 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


I've no sympathy for the guy, but if you think that extradition to the US to be punished for helping expose US war-crimes is a good result then I suppose HAIL OUR IMPERIAL MASTERS.
posted by pompomtom at 8:05 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


As far as I can see, Assange is just Polanski for tankies. First off, for obvious reasons of rule of law, states can’t really turn a blind eye to jumping bail, whatever your opinion on the underlying charges. And secondly, it’s gross to see rape waved away as unimportant because the rapist in question makes important films, whether because they’re great art or because they expose American war crimes.

The Grand Jury he is getting sent to has been in session since before the sex crimes charges.

Is this true? The only references to the Grand Jury that I’ve seen refer to spring / summer of 2018, i.e. last year.

Wow, just like he said they would. How surprising. They really blew their chance to make him look stupid.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they have more charges lined up, but for the moment they’ve been at pains to point out that he’ll likely serve five years or less. I.e., less than he’s voluntarily spent mistreating his cat in the Ecuadorian embassy. If you take the prosecutors at their word (which you would also be doing if they had promised not to seek his extradition), he still looks pretty stupid for inflicting that on himself.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:09 AM on April 11 [22 favorites]


I mean... that sure looks like conspiracy to violate the CFAA. I don't think I'd be comfortable if a Real Journalist (say, Anthony Cormier) was out there cracking password hashes for his sources. That looks more like a spying operation, with a relationship like a handler/operative, than a journalistic relationship.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:11 AM on April 11 [9 favorites]


The only references to the Grand Jury that I’ve seen refer to spring / summer of 2018, i.e. last year

The story from scalefree above is from 2011, and references a grand jury investigation against Assange existing already.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:12 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Seems to me Putin has more interest in seeing Assange silenced than the US does.
posted by spitbull at 8:14 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


UK shadow Home Secretary (sort of kinda like the shadow DHS Secretary if we had that in the US) Diane Abbott tweets:
Home Secretary claims law applies to everyone. But no-one argued that Julian Assange's skipping bail here should be ignored. It's the extradition to the US that is at issue, where he faces lengthy imprisonment for whistle blowing of US military operations in Iraq.
So I know Labour are even more hair-pullingly-argggish than the US Democrats but maybe they will push for extradition to Sweden instead? Then again there's... other rather pressing issues for UK foreign affairs at the moment.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:16 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


The story from scalefree above is from 2011, and references a grand jury investigation against Assange existing already.

Thanks - is this definitely the same Grand Jury? (I’ve seen reports saying that prosecutors dropped the case under Obama but reopened it under Trump.) Would it be normal for a Grand Jury to sit for that long? Do they “go dormant”? Honest questions btw, I don’t have a good handle on the US legal system.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:17 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


From the Guardian liveblog:
This is from journalist David Crouch in Sweden –

One of the Swedish women who made the 2010 allegations against Assange, whose rape case was closed by Swedish prosecutors in 2017, told the Guardian she was opposed to his extradition to the United States.

“I would be very surprised and sad if Julian is handed over to the US,” she said via email, asking for her name not to be used.

“For me this was never about anything else than his misconduct against me and other women, and his refusal to take responsibility for this. Too bad my case could never be investigated properly, but the arrest will not change this, the case cannot be opened. I am prepared to testify if the other case opens up again.”
Doesn’t sound like the words of a CIA asset to me, but maybe it’s some kind of complicated reverse psychology.

I think you can be reasonably concerned about Assange being extradited to the US without excusing the rape allegations, or his skipping bail in response to those allegations.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:25 AM on April 11 [15 favorites]


Tools, actually cracking the password and supplying the cleartext, or mere words? That makes a pretty damn big difference.

Mere words is the very definition of conspiracy. A conspiracy is the planning of an illegal act, using words. Conspiracy does not require that all of the planners actually participate in the act, only that they participated in the planning.
posted by JackFlash at 8:26 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


I believe the women who accused Assange of sexual assault, and I think claiming that those charges were politically motivated is... uncool, to say the least.

I do not believe the Swedish authorities have been anything but sincere in their attempts to being him to face their justice for the crimes he may have committed against multiple women there. He must answer to them and for his actions.

I am very cynical that the UK authorities have acted or ever acted in good faith on this matter. This is amplified by the fact the the Swedish prosecutors were not notified or consulted on the bail pertaining to their own charges. This followed by the immediate indictment by the US authorities strongly suggest to me which master the UK is serving there.

Indeed this is cynical because Assange will now likely never have to answer for the serious charges he was originally wanted for, but instead will be diverted in a miscarriage of justice to the US mostly to suit political ends.

I am sorry if my comments misconstrued my intent. I understand the confusion in my hasty comment, the error is mine.
posted by bonehead at 8:30 AM on April 11 [11 favorites]


Manning, as an Army soldier, was court-martialed instead of being tried in regular civilian court.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:31 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


I do worry that this charge edges close for journalists who work with whistleblowers.

Assange purported to be a neutral arbiter who would publish classified information for the public good. What was supposedly radical about his was that he would publish anything. Information to the people, so to speak.

But this is not what he did. He published subsets of information while conspiring with power brokers to shape public perception to achieve an agenda. He weaponized the information he received and or stole.

Strictly speaking, it's hard to explain exactly why Assange is not a news agency, but if he is, I don't see why any country can't find someone like him, create a news agency, and use it to disseminate weaponized leaks of classified intelligence.

This guy stole the election for Trump, as much as Russia or anyone else did. He manipulated tons of people. He conspired directly with Trump's campaign team as to what and when information would get published.

This guys isn't news. Fox News isn't news. If we ever get out of this mess, there's going to have to be new rules wrapped around this thing we are calling news.
posted by xammerboy at 8:33 AM on April 11 [53 favorites]


It is to also be noted that a Grand Jury is also not a regular civilian court. It is surrounded by extreme secrecy, there is no jury of peers, and there is no defense counsel.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:35 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Mere words is the very definition of conspiracy. A conspiracy is the planning of an illegal act, using words. Conspiracy does not require that all of the planners actually participate in the act, only that they participated in the planning.

That is not in question. What is in question is how wise it is to apply that standard when it comes to leaks to journalists. Saying "you'll have an easier time getting the data out if you read x" could definitely fall under the conspiracy statutes. But should it? The journalist, in that scenario, provided no tools, no passwords, or anything but a reference.

That said, if Assange did in fact take a stolen password hash, have someone crack it, and then supplied the cleartext to Manning, that is an overt act that has little bearing on journalists publishing leaked data. Unfortunately, the precedent set in this case could easily lead to journalists losing some practical, if not legal, protection against acts most of us find at least acceptable.
posted by wierdo at 8:37 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


A Grand Jury issues indictments, not sentences. I presume you are aware there's a difference?
posted by aramaic at 8:38 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Grand juries are a regular civilian court, but they don't try cases. Every federal indictment comes out of a grand jury, unless the defendant waives that right (for instance, if they're going to be pleading guilty anyway). If we didn't have grand juries, prosecutors would just bring indictments on their own.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:39 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


The grand jury indictment (in the Eastern District of Virginia) dates from March 6, 2018 and was sealed.

Grand juries investigate crimes and indict people. (You can’t be charged with a federal crime without a grand jury indicting you.) A different jury would be selected for a trial. That’s all I know, though, and I’d appreciate a good AskMe or other explainer.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:39 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


He published subsets of information while conspiring with power brokers to shape public perception to achieve an agenda. He weaponized the information he received and or stole.

Strictly speaking, it's hard to explain exactly why Assange is not a news agency, but if he is, I don't see why any country can't find someone like him, create a news agency, and use it to disseminate weaponized leaks of classified intelligence.

This guy stole the election for Trump, as much as Russia or anyone else did. He manipulated tons of people. He conspired directly with Trump's campaign team as to what and when information would get published.


But as of now, the actions described above are not what he’s being charged for. He’s being charged for communicating with a person about how to use information (maybe stolen?) to log into a computer, as part of a conspiracy to steal information using that computer. The law is a series of analogizing past scenarios that have been determined to be illegal to present cases, arguing why this new scenario is or isn’t similar enough. This is why slippery slope is a real danger, because lawyers are always casting about for comparisons. It just seems like not that big a leap from “helping you log into a computer to steal information” to “helping you figure out how to send me stolen information in a protected manner”—or at least a small enough leap that future prosecutors angry about leaked information will find the Assange case helpful.

And I don’t consider Assange a journalist (or a good person), or Wikileaks a journalistic enterprise.
posted by sallybrown at 8:42 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


The "fact" that Assange and Wikileaks won the election for Trump (or even played a material part in that victory) is very much an echochambery thing among a subset of Dems/liberals.

I actually don't believe that Assange/Wikileaks were the primary reason behind Trump's victory, but this bizarre instance that they were not actively and eagerly trying to help him and that their assistance had no impact at all, doesn't comport with reality, particularly given the timing of the Wikileaks dump on the day the pussy tape news broke. More on this from the Intercept's Robert Mackey: How Wikileaks morphed into opposition research for Trump. Wikileaks Discusses Preference for GOP over Clinton in Leaked Chats.

Trump's base sees Assange as a bizarre, gross, anti-American guy who is an avatar of everything that is wrong with leftist anti-American radicals.

They seem to be pretty ok with Wikileaks though. Wonder why that might be.

Republicans More Likely to Back CIA Leaks Published by WikiLeaks


Republicans embrace WikiLeaks, and Trump voters warm to Putin, poll finds..
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:46 AM on April 11 [21 favorites]


But this is not what he did. He published subsets of information while conspiring with power brokers to shape public perception to achieve an agenda. He weaponized the information he received and or stole.

But this is exactly what every newspaper in my country does. They have a political line. They often work with a political party to sell a particular perspective. They pick out some stories from a host of possibilities. They are entirely partial. They have an agenda. Its not generally held to be illegal. These are the actions of the free press.

Strictly speaking, it's hard to explain exactly why Assange is not a news agency, but if he is, I don't see why any country can't find someone like him, create a news agency, and use it to disseminate weaponized leaks of classified intelligence.

Yeah, its really hard, as what you describe is exactly what newspapers do. He even worked with some and they very much picked out the stories that were of most interest to readers and to their own agendas. Why don't countries do this? Well in the UK because Governments are in thrall to the existing press and work with them, or sometimes as directed by them, to achieve their (often shared) agendas.
posted by biffa at 8:55 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


Hey journalism fans in this thread, here is a post I made about additional threats to US journalism that do not involve the creep in question. (Wordshore, I am about to go outside as recommended. There is both sunshine and snowflakes. What is this madness?)
posted by Bella Donna at 9:04 AM on April 11 [8 favorites]


Here's hoping Ecuador at least got something nice in the deal. Something in addition to getting rid of Assange, that is.

A lifetime supply of Glade® Plug-In® Air Fresheners for the embassy
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:50 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


I’m hoping they got the cat.
posted by Catseye at 9:53 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


That said, if Assange did in fact take a stolen password hash, have someone crack it, and then supplied the cleartext to Manning, that is an overt act that has little bearing on journalists publishing leaked data.

Looking in a rainbow table for a hash is, no kidding, basically identical to looking up something in a phone book. (I realize it's possible some folks reading this have never seen one; I leave it to you to watch an old movie or check wikipedia) They're a pre-computed dictionary matching a hash {1} with a string. You can't easily reverse a hash string into the original text but you can pre-compute a bunch of hashes and use them to look up stuff later. There's ways to easily guard your system against this sort of attack (or at least make it harder; if you care look around about 'salting' hashes) but enough place don't, or do it wrong, that folks make these tables.

Even when Manning and Assange were corresponding you could find tables on the internet. So having someone look up that hash and hand back the password may well be enough to meet legal conspiracy, but let's not inflate it to more than it is. Back in the day of phone books there were also a more rare beast, a reverse number lookup phonebook. It's something a newspaper would well have for their own use. {2}

What we're talking about here is not dissimilar to if Deep Throat had told Woodward that he got a phone call from someone who he knew had information and Woodward said "give me the number and I'll have my intern look it up." Woodward then passes the name and address from the phone book back to Deep Throat, who then goes and gets information there - maybe breaks in, even - and gives it to Woodward.

Assange is an awful person and if he'd been killed by a meteor falling on his head I'd have found it a struggle to stick to my personal "don't rejoice in the death of any human" personal philosophy. I'd have happily cheered him facing the charges for assaulting those women. But even when it's aimed at such a garbage human I am super uncomfortable seeing someone facing charges for causing the Manning-provided information to the world. I am 100% comfortable and firm in my belief that it was right and appropriate for the world - and U.S. citizens in particular - to see what was being done with U.S. military might.

If someone can separate out the reason someone is arrested/charged/punished from the stated reason because the person in question is awful, okay, I get it. I just don't share that feeling when there's other potential knock-on repercussions, or even sometimes when it doesn't. I guess it's ridiculous to feel that way about getting a possibly appropriate result by subverting the system when the whole underlying case was about subverting the system for a positive result but I'm comfortable with being a human who has sometimes conflicting emotions.

{1} a string that is in theory unique given the input. So if you feed it hash('Don') and got back DUMHAKD00D no other series of characters would ever yield that same thing. hash('Dan') and hash('Dno') would barf up notably different strings.
{2} you could even make the argument that this is even less significant given anyone with access to a computer can make their own rainbow tables with a minimum of knowledge and time. The reverse lookup books weren't something anyone could realistically compile on their own in those days.
posted by phearlez at 9:58 AM on April 11 [11 favorites]


He’s being charged for communicating with a person about how to use information (maybe stolen?) to log into a computer, as part of a conspiracy to steal information using that computer.

Which, if it was done by an actor for a government, would generally be considered espionage, not reporting. This shows the usefulness of denials assets.

I have to agree with Alexandra Erin's assessment of Assange as an intelligence operative who tried playing a high level game. I'll expand on what she said by arguing that he was an operative who was discarded when he was no longer useful. He thought he was a freelance intelligence mastermind, but really, he was just a fire-and-forget asset.
posted by happyroach at 10:03 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


Looking in a rainbow table for a hash is, no kidding, basically identical to looking up something in a phone book.

The complexity or difficulty of the hack is irrelevant. What's relevant is that the password was to a classified system on SIPRnet, the Defense Department's Secret IP Routing network & neither Julian nor Chelsea had legitimate access to that account.
posted by scalefree at 10:08 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


Oh, well as long as it's illegal that's all that actually matters.
posted by phearlez at 10:14 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


neither Julian nor Chelsea had legitimate access to that account.

It's actually worse. It's not just 'neither of them had legitimate access to that account', it's that some other poor shmuck did. If this had succeeded, some other person would have been on the hook for it, leaving Chelsea in the clear. But somebody else, totally innocent, would have gone down.

Leaking shit because you have a moral duty is admirable. Letting someone else squirm for it is hugely less so.
posted by corb at 10:17 AM on April 11 [18 favorites]


I actually don't believe that Assange/Wikileaks were the primary reason behind Trump's victory, but this bizarre instance that they were not actively and eagerly trying to help him and that their assistance had no impact at all, doesn't comport with reality, particularly given the timing of the Wikileaks dump on the day the pussy tape news broke. More on this from the Intercept's Robert Mackey: How Wikileaks morphed into opposition research for Trump. Wikileaks Discusses Preference for GOP over Clinton in Leaked Chats.

I don't insist that it didn't happen although what impact it did or didn't have is far beyond my ken (and beyond my personal interest given what I know about what happened). My point is that your understanding of Assange's role in the election is not at all the understanding of Trump supporters. I mean, on the most basic level, the majority of Republicans don't even think that there was any Russian interference in the election. They certainly don't have strong feelings of gratitude towards Assange for participating in something they don't even think happened.

Again, though, I am not saying they are right, I am saying that this is a fact about what they think/believe. I expect that there might be responses in this vein because I am not participating in the sort of customary rhetorical stance towards Trump and Russia, but it is what it is.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:24 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Leaking shit because you have a moral duty is admirable. Letting someone else squirm for it is hugely less so.

Speaking of shit: Ecuador says Assange put feces on embassy walls
(scroll down)
posted by scalefree at 10:37 AM on April 11 [5 favorites]


Yesterday Julian Assange's best play was to keep his trap shut about the provenance of those hacked DNC emails and any coordination between the Trump campaign/Wikileaks/Putin.

That may still be his best play today, but sometime soon he may need new patrons, and revealing what he knows may be the cost.
posted by notyou at 10:39 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Assange and Manning Under Arrest: Trump Admin Goes All Out Against Whistleblowers.
Interview with National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn about Manning's refusal to testify against Assange and the precarious situation Assange is in.
posted by adamvasco at 10:50 AM on April 11


> Yesterday Julian Assange's best play was to keep his trap shut about the provenance of those hacked DNC emails and any coordination between the Trump campaign/Wikileaks/Putin.

That may still be his best play today, but sometime soon he may need new patrons, and revealing what he knows may be the cost.


On that note, he's officially requesting that the U.S. unseal the charges against him that spun off from the Special Counsel's investigation. You know. That report that didn't find any cooperation coordination conspiracy collusion between the Trump campaign and foreign entities.

Is Julian really the kind of person who would be so petty and petulant as to scream "If I go down, I'm taking you with me!" to all of his accomplices? Yes. Yes, he is. But I'm not grabbing the popcorn just yet.

Edit: FYI, that story is from January, so it's not like he did it immediately in response to his arrest. Just some background information to consider when watching his next steps.
posted by Arson Lupine at 10:53 AM on April 11 [7 favorites]


[Sotonohito, drop it. Leave the thread for a while if you must. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:56 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Looking in a rainbow table for a hash is, no kidding, basically identical to looking up something in a phone book.

so is compiling a list of addresses for your burglar friend to target, but it's still plausibly conspiracy to commit burglary if you do it. The same action would be totally legal if you compiled it for your real estate agent friend, but since you did it to further a planned burglary, it's conspiracy.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:58 AM on April 11 [19 favorites]


There is a line between reporting news and abetting a crime. Calling yourself a journalist is not a "get out of jail free" card.

That was the card that several of the occupiers of the Oregon wildlife refuge played. It didn't work. Any blogger these days can call themselves a journalist. It shouldn't be an excuse for conspiring in a crime.
posted by JackFlash at 11:05 AM on April 11 [6 favorites]


Sweden will get him. I think the US should sign a prosecution agreement with Sweden--Sweden goes first and then hands him over.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:56 AM on April 11


The NYTimes headline says the conspiracy was to (help Manning) hack a federal computer. It's interesting that the given reason has to be more specific than the varying opinions on how much harm someone has done. Like, explicitly charging that someone had the knowhow to break security and exercised that knowledge, is quite different than actually charging someone with interfering with the affairs of a foreign superpower. The work of justice should reflect what an alleged crime is really about, not couch itself in narrow technicalities. Justice needs to say what it means. I just find the headline odd in this way.
posted by polymodus at 12:20 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Here's the crime he's accused of, part of the CFAA.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 USC §1030(a)(1)
(a) Whoever—
(1) having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;
posted by scalefree at 12:43 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Just to see the sort of range the CFAA shows in how it is applied, here's Aaron Swartz's indictment which has a number of subitems from 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a) listed from his crawling and storing documents from JSTOR. past Aaron Swartz items on MeFi
posted by phearlez at 1:00 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Citing the CFAA is symptomatic for two reasons. First it means they (the state) doesn't actually have to construct a rational thesis, they can just wave the letter of the law and catch him as pretext. Second, the CFAA itself is problematic and debated in digital freedom/journalism circles, so there's the whole issue of this piece of legislation being woefully outdated, etc. So as a single example, the whole Aaron Swartz thing. So again it's the construction of an actual allegation in the form of a thesis, which is what justice requires.
posted by polymodus at 1:24 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


(Such a thesis would have to answer the question of, is the main issue conspiracy or the main issue fraud, etc.)
posted by polymodus at 1:27 PM on April 11


The CFAA massively, irretrievably, sucks. But cracking someone's password with the intention of getting into their account and reading their emails (or whatever) ought to be illegal. Whether the CFAA is a good law is sort of orthogonal to that. I can't see a world in which trying to crack someone's password to a classified network isn't illegal. It probably ought to be illegal to crack someone's password. How illegal, I don't know. Probably less illegal than it is. But, still.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:40 PM on April 11 [6 favorites]


He's already distancing himself. NBC News tallied that Trump had cited WikiLeaks 141 times at 56 events in the last month of the campaign.

“WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks,” he said at one such event. “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” he said at another. “I love reading those WikiLeaks,” he said at yet another event, relaying that he had been delayed in arriving because he had been reading the latest batch of emails that WikiLeaks had released.

Day of Assange's arrest: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks,” Trump told reporters. “It’s not my thing."
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:46 PM on April 11 [11 favorites]


Day of Assange's arrest: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks,” Trump told reporters. “It’s not my thing."

Cue Dems immediately using this evidence to push for a 25th amendment thingy as he's clearly suffering from advanced dementia.

... waits ...

... still waiting ...

... any moment now ...
posted by Buntix at 1:56 PM on April 11 [6 favorites]


There is a line between reporting news and abetting a crime. Calling yourself a journalist is not a "get out of jail free" card.


Exposing war crimes is well and good within reason, but not if it means getting unauthorised access to a military computer
posted by moorooka at 2:33 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


I’m pretty disgusted by this man, and by his actions and by his supporters. We need transparency and truth, exposure of our governments lies and malfeasances. We never needed Julian Assange’s truth, filled with agendas and taint. Who knows what whistleblowers and what data he had but didn’t release? Do not conflate him with freedom of information and freedom of press.
posted by Drumhellz at 2:40 PM on April 11 [21 favorites]




One of the key parts of classic civil disobedience is being willing to go to jail for reasons you believe to be Just and proper, thereby demonstrating that the system is being Unjust and demonstrating your dedication to the cause of Justice. Doing everything you can think of to avoid jail kinda undermines the whole point.

In choosing to be imprisoned Manning is being principled, while Assange is not.
posted by aramaic at 2:42 PM on April 11 [17 favorites]


Exposing war crimes is well and good within reason, but not if it means getting unauthorised access to a military computer

If you want to make a case for a whistle blower exception to security laws, then go ahead and argue that case. But don't try to hide behind some fallacious interpretation of "journalism" and the First Amendment. There is no First Amendment exemption to criminal acts.
posted by JackFlash at 2:43 PM on April 11 [9 favorites]


Exposing war crimes is well and good within reason, but not if it means getting unauthorised access to a military computer

People forget that the only reason Daniel Ellsberg didn't wind up in jail is because the Nixon DoJ fatally fucked up the case against him. Just because you are committing a crime for a good reason doesn't change that you are committing a crime.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:44 PM on April 11 [11 favorites]


Wikileaks files are open

Context? Is this the insurance file?
posted by rhizome at 2:46 PM on April 11


Man people love piling on Assange.
The thing is, most of what's made out to be bad about him is hearsay.
posted by PHINC at 2:49 PM on April 11


Wikileaks files are open
Context? Is this the insurance file?

Thats for them to know and us to find out
posted by adamvasco at 2:52 PM on April 11


Exposing war crimes is well and good within reason, but not if it means getting unauthorised access to a military computer

People forget that the only reason Daniel Ellsberg didn't wind up in jail is because the Nixon DoJ fatally fucked up the case against him. Just because you are committing a crime for a good reason doesn't change that you are committing a crime.


We know that Woodward and Bernstein got information from Watergate grand jurors. It was a crime for the Grand Jurors to give that information. Merely receiving that information is not a crime, nor is publishing it. But if they gave a grand juror a special cane they had made to carry documents out of the grand jury room, they would be charged.

Similarly, those who have legal access to classified information are not allowed to give it over to those not authorized to see it--it is and should be a crime. Thus, Ms. Manning committed a crime and Assange's aid to her in cracking a password is also illegal.

I do think Sweden deserves first crack. Having indicated that they were inclined to refile if he were apprehended, their actions in reopening the matter to review next steps are welcome,
posted by Ironmouth at 2:54 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


The thing is, most of what's made out to be bad about him is hearsay.

Perhaps you should read up on hearsay. We aren't talking rumors here. We are talking about actual text from official court filings, both in Sweden and the U.S.

Those charges need to be proved in court but this isn't just hearsay.
posted by JackFlash at 2:54 PM on April 11 [24 favorites]


Man people love piling on Assange.
The thing is, most of what's made out to be bad about him is hearsay.

Direct testimony by victims that he committed sexual assault is not hearsay. Hearsay is when someone testifies to something someone else has said. Saying he took the condom off without my permission is not hearsay. It is direct evidence.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:57 PM on April 11 [24 favorites]


Or... believe women?
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:58 PM on April 11 [18 favorites]


Man people love piling on Assange.
The thing is, most of what's made out to be bad about him is hearsay.


Of my friends it's the ones who know him best who're loudest against him today. This is from a former roommate.
prior to it's launch julian was a big enough asshole to solicit classified information from his friends.
I argued with him about wikileaks A LOT, and frankly he can rot in jail forever.
It'd be a real bonus if he managed to drag ioerror down with him.
Ok anyone you see crowing about how he's a misunderstood revolutionary hero who ought to get a break is someone who's bought into a myth. He really doesn't give a fuck about any of that and just wants to burn shit down and watch the bodies fall.
He managed to shock me with his amorality before he even got started.
posted by scalefree at 3:24 PM on April 11 [21 favorites]


Leaving aside the, uh, novel interpretation of hearsay in the comment being dunked on, he's going to be extradited to the US for stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault and everything to do with being a russian lackey who commited computer crimes. So it's not really relevant.

Abuse of the CFAA is a real issue, though, so this bears watching. Man for all seasons, what will you do when the devil turns round on you the laws now all being flat and so on.
posted by Justinian at 3:25 PM on April 11


Leaving aside the, uh, novel interpretation of hearsay in the comment being dunked on, he's going to be extradited to the US for stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault and everything to do with being a russian lackey who commited computer crimes. So it's not really relevant.

Sweden announced they are reopening the case. They may or may not decline in the end but he is most definitely still in the cross hairs of the Swedes.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:31 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


I would expect a superseding indictment with further charges from the US, honestly. This indictment is like a shot across the bow to get the party started and begin the extradition process. Quite a bit from Mueller's work (about "Organization-1") isn't mentioned here,

I can't guess the strategy w/r/t this indictment, extradition, and a superseding indictment -- the US might save the blockbuster charges for once they have him safely in hand after extradition, or they might be starting with this because the superseding indictment would reveal information about other ongoing investigations, and with Ecuador being Done With Him they needed to act. But I expect there to be further charges and a lot more details to come with them.

(Roger Stone and others may also have superseding indictments in their futures now that Assange is in hand; those indictments were surprisingly quiet on their Wikileaks involvement.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:38 PM on April 11 [6 favorites]


{1} a string that is in theory unique given the input. So if you feed it hash('Don') and got back DUMHAKD00D no other series of characters would ever yield that same thing. hash('Dan') and hash('Dno') would barf up notably different strings.

That (edit: bold sections) is completely, totally wrong....almost into not-even-wrong territory: hash collisions are a known attack vector for hashed. In fact, the basic concept of a hashing functions means there will always be collisions.
posted by MikeKD at 3:48 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]


Why Julian Assange Deserves First Amendment Protection By James C. Goodale, in Harper's.

It is naïve to think that reporters can sit around waiting for leaks to fall into their laps. In a recent interview, the longtime investigative reporter Seymour Hersh told me that he obtains classified information through a process of “seduction” in which he spends time trying to induce the source into giving up the information. If he isn’t allowed to do that, he says, “It’s the end of national security reporting.”
posted by mecran01 at 3:54 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


If you want to make a case for a whistle blower exception to security laws, then go ahead and argue that case

Does it even need to be made? Next you’ll be asking me to make the case against the war crimes that were exposed
posted by moorooka at 3:55 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


Exposing war crimes is well and good within reason, but not if it means getting unauthorised access to a military computer

Multiple choice
1: Rape
2: murder
3: torture
4: hacking

Which is the real crime we should go after? Within reason of course.
posted by biffa at 3:56 PM on April 11


It would be utterly classic if Assange got no jail time for flipping on the Trump campaign.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:57 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Wikileaks files are open

Context? Is this the insurance file?


Looking at the 2003, 2007, 2009 dates in the filenames a lot of it is old enough to maybe be. Noticed MeFi's own Tom Watson MP in there with a constituency letter/short questionnaire about immigration policy and how good a job he's doing. Didn't click on anything else, so can't speak to the rest.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 3:57 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


I would expect a superseding indictment with further charges from the US, honestly. This indictment is like a shot across the bow to get the party started and begin the extradition process. Quite a bit from Mueller's work (about "Organization-1") isn't mentioned here,

"bmaz," posting at Marcy Wheeler's blog "emptywheel," and others, suggest that the extradition agreement between the US and the UK does not allow this kind of thing -- the requesting nation cannot pile on more charges on top of those the extraditing nation based its extradition grant on. If the DOJ wants to charge Assange with additional crimes, they'll have to 1) include them in the extradition proceedings; or 2) ignore the requirements of the treaty once Assange is in the U.S.
posted by notyou at 4:01 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Wow.

I came here for some nuance and balance - given the absolutely horrendous commentary on Twitter, I thought Mefi would be more concerned with the precedent of the seemingly long arm of American law, but instead it's largely just a range of asinine character assassination. This is less about Assange than it is about weaponising laws to shut down whistle blowers. Surely.

And:
"You are “the minister” who refused to cooperate with the FBI because you suspected their agents on mission in Iceland were trying to frame Julian Assange. Do you confirm this?"
posted by a non e mouse at 4:17 PM on April 11 [9 favorites]


I thought Mefi would be more concerned with the precedent of the seemingly long arm of American law

Did you even read the thread? Because there've been plenty of people expressing their concerns about just that very thing.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:23 PM on April 11 [11 favorites]


I started with the trivialised way it was framed in the post, and then the subsequent responses. 'Largely' is not ALL - but the general POV of the responses doesn't do the subject any favours.
posted by a non e mouse at 4:28 PM on April 11


Being extradited to the US because you conspired to hack an American computer is not that unusual, is it? Usually there's some more allegations of fraud or stealing money and so on, but charging people for hacking into American computers is normal. Mueller charged a bunch of Russians with conspiracy to hack the DNC and does anyone actually think that was a bad indictment?
posted by BungaDunga at 4:29 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


If you can’t tell the difference between hacking to steal money and hacking to reveal war crimes then yeah
posted by moorooka at 4:34 PM on April 11 [6 favorites]


I mean, even if you’re like “two Swedish women get raped is NBD in the Big Picture which you guys with your parochial conventional morality are overlooking” surely you can’t help but feel a tiny, tiny bit of schadenfreude in this instance? For all that the Obama admin loved to drone people in other countries and pursue whistleblowers out of all proportion, they ultimately decided not to go after Assange for exactly the reasons that everyone’s arguing about - precedent, and how this case overlaps with freedom of the press.

The Trump admin has no such concerns, and seems to see this as a lovely precedent for going after perceived internal enemies. Who was it that “loved Wikileaks”, and their thumb on the scale in his favour? Remind me?

So this isn’t so much a case of a “turkey voting for Christmas”, as a turkey colluding with Santa’s elves to bring about Christmas as early as possible. You’ll forgive me for not spending too much time worrying about the fate of that particular bird.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:36 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


For all that the Obama admin loved to drone people in other countries and pursue whistleblowers out of all proportion, they ultimately decided not to go after Assange for exactly the reasons that everyone’s arguing about - precedent, and how this case overlaps with freedom of the press.

They didn't quash the indictment, and Obama certainly didn't pardon Assange. I can't see any change in policy here; it just wasn't practical to have Assange arrested before. The secrecy of the indictment is one of the things I dislike about Assange's treatment: I can't see that it's in the interest of justice or social policy. His lawyers ought to have had the chance to respond to it, and so should the US public. I don't imagine that there would have been an upswell of people demanding that the DOJ lay off prosecuting Mr Stinky, but it's the principle: they may have.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:46 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Obama certainly didn't pardon Assange

For what? Assange hasn’t been convicted of anything.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:55 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


If you can’t tell the difference between hacking to steal money and hacking to reveal war crimes then yeah

If you can’t tell the difference between assaulting women and propping up fascists then yeah.
posted by valkane at 4:59 PM on April 11 [11 favorites]


His lawyers ought to have had the chance to respond to it, and so should the US public.

That’s what the trial is for.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:00 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


He could have preemptively pardoned Assange alongside Manning, but it would have been rather a surprise. You don't need a conviction for a pardon.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:00 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


If you can’t tell the difference between assaulting women and propping up fascists then yeah.

He’s not being extradited for asaulting women. He’s being extradited for assisting Chelsea Manning, who is currently in jail because she is refusing to testify against him. And the “fascists” that he was “propping up” are the ones doing the extraditing, with you very anti-fascistly cheering them on
posted by moorooka at 5:04 PM on April 11 [13 favorites]


do you care that he assaulted women? do you care that he propped up the fascists who are now gonna disavow him? I get the whole its wrong to oppress the media, but this guy isn’t on the right side of anyone. except maybe you.
posted by valkane at 5:08 PM on April 11 [10 favorites]


The secrecy of the indictment is one of the things I dislike about Assange's treatment: I can't see that it's in the interest of justice or social policy. His lawyers ought to have had the chance to respond to it

Huh? He has to respond to it. You don't get to respond prior to arrest in the US system.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:11 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


look, we're pretty sure Assange has Targaryen blood, and that still means something to some of us
posted by prize bull octorok at 5:12 PM on April 11 [12 favorites]


He’s not being extradited for asaulting women. He’s being extradited for assisting Chelsea Manning, who is currently in jail because she is refusing to testify against him.

Sweden reopened the case today as they said they would.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:15 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


do you care that he assaulted women? do you care that he propped up the fascists who are now gonna disavow him? I get the whole its wrong to oppress the media, but this guy isn’t on the right side of anyone.

Are you asking whether I think that the assault charge and publishing Clinton’s dirt in 2016 makes his prosecution for exposing war crimes a good thing? I will defer to Chelsea Manning, currently in jail, as to whether the US national security state is on the right side of history here.
posted by moorooka at 5:18 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


Ironmouth, I appreciate the info but do you really think he'll be sent to Sweden rather than the USA?
posted by Justinian at 5:29 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


If you can’t tell the difference between hacking to steal money and hacking to reveal war crimes then yeah

The thing is, the law doesn’t care about this. In US justice system for this offense, the ends do not justify the means. Outside the US justice system—in religious belief, or personal morality—that might be different. But that’s why Assange’s behavior was considered noble at first by so many people: it seemed like he was willing to risk jail time or threat of legal prosecution because he thought transparency was worth his personal risk. As time has gone by, that seems less and less likely to many of us, and his other behavior (including sexual assault) has more than complicated our sense of his ethics.

That’s not to say cut-and-dried evidence of a crime is the end of the story. The kind of case Assange supporters see here (a man committing a comparatively small potatoes crime for a much larger, noble purpose) is ripe for jury nullification.
posted by sallybrown at 5:43 PM on April 11 [9 favorites]




Ironmouth, I appreciate the info but do you really think he'll be sent to Sweden rather than the USA?

Not sure who gets to go first under UK law, but if Sweden refiles charges and puts in an extradition request he will go there at some point.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:23 PM on April 11


But this is exactly what every newspaper in my country does. They have a political line. They often work with a political party to sell a particular perspective.... They have an agenda. Its not generally held to be illegal. These are the actions of the free press.

I would not call news beholden to partisan interests "free". I would not say that when FOX news interviews a coal lobbyist on whether or not global warming is real that news is being provided freely or to inform the public.

Capitalism without rules slides quickly into oligarchy. News without rules, as we have seen, quickly becomes the mouthpiece of political or business interests. I agree with you this is the way the news works now, but the news is not working now. The news must change.

When I was younger, if a news organization published classified material they had to do so in the public interest. If a court decided they had not done so, their paper would suffer penalties. If important news was reported, it had to be done factually and in non-partisan manner. If they didn't, they would be fined.

These were small threats. They didn't stop the news from publishing classified information or reporting, but they did make them think twice about it. They generally stopped the shenanigans. It was a lot better than today, when news may be free, but has stopped being what I would call news.
posted by xammerboy at 6:52 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


That (edit: bold sections) is completely, totally wrong....almost into not-even-wrong territory: hash collisions

There’s wrong in the absolute, which I absolutely cop to doing on purpose, and there’s wrong in the practical behavior of password hashes where the input domain is constrained and the potential of accidental collisions even with a busted-ass algo like MD5. For the sake of explaining the way hashes are used and misused in password storage I stand by my description.
posted by phearlez at 6:52 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


Possibly the insurance files
posted by adamvasco at 7:04 PM on April 11


There’s wrong in the absolute, which I absolutely cop to doing on purpose

This is a completely sound explanatory principle. When I launch into a session of explaining tech to non-technical people I frequently open with "Some of the things I am about to tell you will be lies. Think of those as scaffolding. By the time you understand this topic well enough that they matter, you will be able to spot them and you'll also know why I told them."
posted by flabdablet at 7:09 PM on April 11 [22 favorites]


Assange isn’t a journalist or a whistleblower. He’s a laundry service intelligence services use to dish dirt on their enemies without exposing themselves.
posted by um at 7:35 PM on April 11 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure that the existence of rainbow tables makes password cracking any less of an active, overt, act. Manning could have downloaded the rainbow tables herself and Assange wouldn't have been directly involved. Had that been the case, I would consider charging Assange an obvious abuse of power.

He chose to put himself in the gray area where disagreement is perfectly reasonable. That was really stupid of him. Probably not quite as stupid as not trying to get himself arrested by Swedish authorities when it became clear several months ago that his time in the embassy was coming to a close. A simple "I'm ready to cooperate, please send someone over to take me to your country" probably would have kept him out of the US' hands, at least until his sexual assault case was closed.

(There is reason to believe that some elements of the Swedish government prefer he get scooped up by the US, but there is also good reason to believe the prosecutors handling his case are not part of that group and would make sure he sticks around until they are done with him)

I'm glad he was finally arrested. I am very unhappy that he is being sent to the US. He didn't commit his crimes here, even if they were directed against the US. He should be prosecuted in the relevant jurisdiction to whose laws and authority he voluntarily subjected himself. Our weird idea that US criminal law applies to people who are not US nationals and not present in the US is bizarre.

He committed a crime in Sweden while subject to their jurisdiction, so he very much should be subject to extradition there. The US, though? Not so much, unless he was here when he assisted Chelsea Manning.
posted by wierdo at 7:38 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


I am not an expert on this, but it seems like the disinformation campaign around him has worked pretty spectacularly. People argue about the rape accusations, the freedom of the press, and his personality while most ignore the fact that he might just be a mercenary involved in espionage disguised as a reporter, who also did a lot of other shitty things because he's not a good person.
posted by bongo_x at 8:00 PM on April 11 [14 favorites]


He should be prosecuted in the relevant jurisdiction to whose laws and authority he voluntarily subjected himself.

I'm going to commit all my cyber crimes from Antarctica.
posted by JackFlash at 8:02 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


But that’s why Assange’s behavior was considered noble at first by so many people: it seemed like he was willing to risk jail time or threat of legal prosecution because he thought transparency was worth his personal risk. As time has gone by, that seems less and less likely to many of us, and his other behavior (including sexual assault) has more than complicated our sense of his ethics.


My sense of Julian Assange's ethics, or lack thereof, was firmly cemented upon reading of his disagreements with editors of the NYT/Guardian/etc over publication of the Afghan war logs concerning redaction of the names of Afghan informants who worked with US and British military (Assange didn't want to and his response was reportedly "well, they're collaborators, they deserve to die"; Wikileaks proceeded to post unredacted documents, leading to claims that named informants had been killed as a result of their names getting out). It was pretty obvious he was an amoral piece of shit before he was charged with rape; his actions since then have been mostly in the service of being an asset of Russian intelligence.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 8:13 PM on April 11 [22 favorites]


Assange isn’t a journalist or a whistleblower. He’s a laundry service intelligence services use to dish dirt on their enemies without exposing themselves.

I don't disagree with the accuracy of this assertion over the past several years. At the time of Manning's actions, WikiLeaks was more than just Assange, though, and seemed to have other sources for a fair amount of their material. Despite my opinions about Assange himself, this is perhaps relevant given that the US indictment on which his extradition is based seems to stem from that era.
posted by eviemath at 8:33 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


He should be prosecuted in the relevant jurisdiction to whose laws and authority he voluntarily subjected himself.

I'm going to commit all my cyber crimes from Antarctica.


El Chapo will be glad to hear of this new legal doctrine where you must be physically present to be charged with anything.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:39 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


There is no distance between Assange and Wikileaks. WL backs Assange to the hilt. They’re a part of the whole plausible-deniability circus.
posted by um at 8:45 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Also the Russian spies and hackers charged by the Special Counsel's office. Almost all of their crimes were committed while they were physically overseas. I am very comfortable with foreigners being brought to the US to stand trial for hacking American computers. There are some crimes where the jurisdiction is very tangential, but this is not one of them.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:46 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


If a Russian extorts Bitcoin from an American, it is entirely appropriate to try and extradite him if he steps foot in a country that will arrest him for us. What if someone had paid an American hitman from abroad? Should we just... let that happen?

There's no interest that's served by shrugging our shoulders and letting people on foreign soil commit crimes against Americans if we could indict, try, and convict them.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:50 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


There's no interest that's served by shrugging our shoulders and letting people on foreign soil commit crimes against Americans if we could indict, try, and convict them.

Whereas perfectly legitimate interests are served by keeping your country’s war crimes a state secret and prosecuting whistleblowers
posted by moorooka at 8:59 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


Other countries also have laws, you know. We don't have to apply our laws worldwide to bring criminals to justice as a matter of course like we do today. And it turns out a lot of people who think they've gotten away with something are stupid enough to come to the US for conferences and such. Statutes of limitations typically don't run while a person is outside the relevant jurisdiction, so we can wait, if necessary.

I seriously doubt that Assange was in one of the few places where breaking into a foreign computer system isn't against the law when he was helping Manning. That's not to say that I think there aren't reasonable uses of extraterritorial jurisdiction, where corrupt acts to thwart justice abroad are involved for example. I don't think this is one of those situations.

And no, I don't agree with dragging El Chapo to the US, either. It's not like he wasn't subject to imprisonment in Mexico. If we were that worried about him escaping again, we could have helped the Mexican government prevent that outcome rather than acted like we own the entire damned world and are entitled to impose our will upon every human being upon it just because we say so.
posted by wierdo at 9:06 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]




Just because we say so.

...and because Mexico asked us to, and because he's a really bad guy.
posted by xammerboy at 9:24 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Prosecuting hackers who exclusively hack abroad is expensive. All the evidence and victims are overseas, and none of the victims are your voters, so there's not much of an incentive. Expecting French investigators (or whoever) to fly themselves out to the US, do their own forensics, gather evidence of the crime, take it all back home all in service of convicting a French resident of a crime against a US person is going to be a hard sell. Easier just to try them where their victims are. If there are American co-conspirators you can indict them all together and tell a single story instead of fragmenting the prosecution across whichever jurisdictions the various members of the conspiracy happen to live in.

US prosecutors are charged with prosecuting crimes against the United States. Pursuing people who committed crimes against US persons is their job! It just seems strange to throw up hands at the border and say, well, you may have hacked American computers, and we know where you are but we'll just hope that the local authorities can be bothered.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:33 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Also, the UK denies US extradition requests. It happens. It's a bilateral treaty, the US is not stuffing Assange into a diplomatic pouch and spiriting him away. If the UK decided that it didn't want to see Assange prosecuted in the US, they could frustrate the process. The process might yet be frustrated by the UK courts. Extradition is not automatic and isn't happening just on the US say-so, it happens pursuant to an international agreement between two nations- two nuclear armed, highly interlinked, Five Eyes nations. This treaty really is not the US imposing its will on the UK.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:42 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]




or 2) ignore the requirements of the treaty once Assange is in the U.S.

This is what will happen, no question. The mask is right off these days, gathering dust in the back of the wardrobe.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:29 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]


WikiLeaks Turned Down Leaks on Russian Government During U.S. Presidential Campaign
WikiLeaks in its early years published a broad scope of information, including emails belonging to Sarah Palin and Scientologists, phone records of Peruvian politicians, and inside information from surveillance companies. “We don’t have targets,” Assange said at the time.

But by 2016, WikiLeaks had switched course, focusing almost exclusively on Clinton and her campaign.

Approached later that year by the same source about data from an American security company, WikiLeaks again turned down the leak. “Is there an election angle? We’re not doing anything until after the election unless its [sic] fast or election related,” WikiLeaks wrote. “We don’t have the resources.”
Man, it must have been so frustrating for Assange to have to turn down a genuinely newsworthy scoop about Russia to stick with his editorial angle of selectively leaking the DNC’s entirely boring emails during the election cycle. And all for lack of hosting space!!
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:35 PM on April 11 [27 favorites]


Which is typical of the obfuscation in reporting on Assange. FP do not publish an entire transcript, the article does not quote Wikileaks saying they won't publish, only questioning whether the documents aren't already public and saying they don't have the resources (they mean human resources, not hosting space) to publish until after the election.

Apply some critical analysis.....
posted by bigZLiLk at 10:46 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


the article does not quote Wikileaks saying they won't publish, only questioning whether the documents aren't already public

I recognise that my comment was several paragraphs long, so maybe you missed this part:
“Is there an election angle? We’re not doing anything until after the election unless its [sic] fast or election related,” WikiLeaks wrote.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:58 PM on April 11 [6 favorites]


Did you read the rest of mine?

..and saying they don't have the resources (they mean human resources, not hosting space) to publish until after the election.

What is extraordinary is they don't even *have* the whole transcript, and yet FP is happy to assume statements are the responses their "source" states would have completely exonerated Wikileaks from accusations they were acting as agents of Russia.

This is the standard of evidence in journalism that Wikileaks is designed to make irrelevant.
posted by bigZLiLk at 11:04 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Sweden will get him. I think the US should sign a prosecution agreement with Sweden--Sweden goes first and then hands him over.

This would tie the US's hands, prohibiting it from, for example, pushing for capital Aiding The Enemy charges. Letting Sweden deport him to Australia, and getting him through ANZUS collective-security cooperation protocols, would leave the US freer to push for (or merely threaten him with, should he decline to cooperate) the death penalty.
posted by acb at 12:45 AM on April 12


Isn't aiding the enemy a charge for American citizens?

An EU country isn't about to extradite anyone to somewhere they might face charges which would lead to the death penalty.
posted by biffa at 2:42 AM on April 12


From Salon, and worth reading in its entirety: “Before college professor Jordan Peterson started using lobsters as a cudgel against women's equality, before author Sam Harris started just-asking-questions about whether black people are inherently intellectually inferior, and before Joe Rogan built a podcast empire for white men who think they're the ones who are truly oppressed, there was Assange, sitting in the Ecuadorian embassy and using his international stage to push the idea that the real fascists in this world were liberal Democrats and anti-rape feminists.

“Assange rose to international fame by styling himself an anti-authoritarian leftist, and initially, the shoe seemed to fit. His biggest coup, as a professional leaker out to disrupt systems of power, was the 2010 publication of a massive trove of classified materials leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including videos of 2007 and 2009 military strikes that exposed the cruelties of the ongoing ‘war on terror.’ This work was rightly viewed as critical muckraking journalism and probably did a great deal of long-term good. Among other things, it put international pressure on Barack Obama to move back toward the more pacifist or non-interventionist image he had campaigned under in 2008.

“But things quickly deteriorated. In 2010, two Swedish leftist activists, originally WikiLeaks allies, accused Assange of rape and molestation. In 2012, rather than face the charges, Assange sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he remained until his arrest Thursday. He spent much of his seven years in that building waging a perverse political war against liberal Democrats and feminists, which ultimately led him to support Trump's 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, as leaked WikiLeaks chatlogs later proved.”

The article goes on to emphasize how much this situation is of Assange’s own making. That does not put the US in the right but poor people in Texas are being jailed, against the law, for unpaid parking tickets. Those of you who have the energy to fight against what you see as a miscarriage of justice or threat to journalism should by all means proceed. I do not have the desire nor the energy. I do find Chelsea Manning’s actions heroic and patriotic; the only thing that truly gives me pause is her silence.

There are MeFites in the main politics thread who frequently point out that we can do more than one thing at a time. That may be true for the US as a whole or various nations or groups. But I am a gal who can barely find clean socks every morning. Moreover, I am not an activist, I am an opinionator here on the blue, and my opinion changes virtually nothing. For all of those reasons, I don’t think it matters much if I decline to be outraged at any charges the US gins up for Assange. Partly because the US still has children in cages; partly, as noted above, my opinion doesn’t matter; and partly because Assange is, as the Brits say, a wanker.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:10 AM on April 12 [31 favorites]


..and saying they don't have the resources (they mean human resources, not hosting space) to publish until after the election.

...so why would they have had the resources to deal with it if it was election-related? They haven't got the resources to deal with it, completely not a value judgement, no bias here, we just literally can't do it right now - unless of course it serves this one agenda. Then we somehow can.
posted by Dysk at 3:15 AM on April 12 [12 favorites]


I do find Chelsea Manning’s actions heroic and patriotic; the only thing that truly gives me pause is her silence.

By “silence”, what you are actually referring to is her choice to return to jail for an indeterminate period (the first month of which was spent in solitary confinement) rather than give evidence against Assange. Do you consider that to be heroic and patriotic?
posted by moorooka at 4:17 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


By “silence”, what you are actually referring to is...

Maybe ease up on the putting words in people's mouths?
posted by Dysk at 4:25 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


Account of a much younger Assange requesting hosting on a security server, then proceeding to attempt to pwn the entire server.

Julian Assange using any gesture of goodwill as a privilege to escalate and exploit is as telling about his character as Donald Trump cheating at golf.
posted by acb at 4:30 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


An EU country isn't about to extradite anyone to somewhere they might face charges which would lead to the death penalty.

Sweden would not extradite him to the US unless the US signed a binding memorandum to rule out capital charges. They would, once he has served his sentence, deport him to his own country (Australia), which might be more amenable (it officially opposes the death penalty, though is not bound to do so by EU treaties, the government has broad discretion, and “national security” and operational matters override liberal-democratic niceties), unless he applies for and is granted asylum because Australia would send him to the US who might execute him.

Which brings to mind the old joke about the definition of chutzpah being killing one's parents and pleading for clemency on grounds of being an orphan.
posted by acb at 4:35 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


The US is not going to seek the death penalty against Assange.
posted by spitbull at 4:47 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


moorooka, perhaps I should have merely echoed something another commenter notes above: Manning has principles and appears to abide by them, unlike Assange.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:55 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


When I was younger, if a news organization published classified material they had to do so in the public interest. If a court decided they had not done so, their paper would suffer penalties. If important news was reported, it had to be done factually and in non-partisan manner. If they didn't, they would be fined.

If you're from the US this is really inaccurate.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:58 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Does it even need to be made? Next you’ll be asking me to make the case against the war crimes that were exposed

I would be a lot more sympathetic to Assange if this is what he did. All the news outlets that received the Manning files published stories about possible war crimes, about allegations of corruption, about previously unrevealed incompetence. What they did not do is dump the entire unredacted text, much of which did none of these things and revealed the names of people who were speaking to the American government. That's the difference.

I came here for some nuance and balance - given the absolutely horrendous commentary on Twitter, I thought Mefi would be more concerned with the precedent of the seemingly long arm of American law, but instead it's largely just a range of asinine character assassination. This is less about Assange than it is about weaponising laws to shut down whistle blowers. Surely.

Did you come here for nuance and balance, or did you come here for a circle-jerk that reflected what you already believed?
posted by atrazine at 5:58 AM on April 12 [21 favorites]


octobersurprise: Somehow Dennis Nedry comes to mind here—a loathsome man is about to be eaten by an even more loathsome man.

Nope. All the dinosaurs in JP were female.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:02 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


octobersurprise: Somehow Dennis Nedry comes to mind here—a loathsome man is about to be eaten by an even more loathsome man.

Dennis Nedry was eaten by a pack of mini dilophosauruses (Dilophosaurui???). They were kind of cute, actually...
posted by mikelieman at 6:12 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


The federal government has executed 3 people since 1963, all for (specific federal kinds of) murder. Everyone currently on federal death row is there for murder. The last people executed for espionage were the Rosenbergs in 1953. When the Supreme Court re-allowed the death penalty in 1976 after suspending it in 1973, all the offenses they permitted to trigger the death penalty involved murder. Ames wasn’t executed. Hanssen wasn’t executed. Julian Assange is not going to be executed by the federal government.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:57 AM on April 12 [9 favorites]


If you're from the US this is really inaccurate.

I'm thinking specifically of the fairness doctrine, and the court hearings on publishing the pentagon papers.
posted by xammerboy at 7:04 AM on April 12


So, nobody else remembers when the talking point was "He can just walk out of the embassy?"

For years it has gone from "The US isn't after him, he could walk out of the embassy" to

"He's not following the rules of his asylum, so they should kick him out" to

'Well, we were totally wrong that he could just walk out of the embassy and not be extradited to the US, but now we're definitely, positively sure that the US won't do anything at all untoward toward him."

As if they didn't bring down Evo Morales' presidential plane just to try to nab Ed Snowden. You people really think the US government actually respects the rule of law, no matter who is in charge? They've literally shown time and time again that they don't respect other nations laws, they don't respect other nations leaders, and they will do anything they damn well please to get things to go the way of "American Interests."

Angela Merkel might agree with me when I say "Give me a fucking break." (But sure, she should trust the US when they tapped her phone and the US gave no real technical evidence to support the idea that Huawei are going to do the same. Just keep trusting them, no matter how many times they lie to your fucking face.)
posted by deadaluspark at 7:23 AM on April 12 [13 favorites]


If you're from the US this is really inaccurate.

I mean, there at least used to be the Fairness Doctrine. Pretty sure if it was still in place we would not have Fox News.
posted by schroedinger at 7:34 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Josh Marshall has a bunch on starting here on the TPM EdBlog on the journalistic part of this. Some is paywalled but that link should be open to all.

He's worried about other charges coming that will move into (anti-journalistic) grey areas but the hacking charge is black and white. All journalists know you can publish illegally obtained materials but you can't help someone illegally obtain them. Journalists don't help people plan crimes, let alone assist in hacking. It opens them up to charges and they know this. Assange isn't a journalist and doesn't approach things that way.

The difference between Manning/Assange/Wikileaks and Snowden/Greenwald/The Guardian is worth thinking about. The US security apparatus will generally try to get away with what it can but the criminal charges with Snowden are pretty much going to stop with him.

All that said I really don't like the idea that Assange isn't a journalist because he's a Russian stooge. There is no legal rule I can imagine to support that claim that doesn't put nearly infinite discretionary powers in the hands of the US state.

I mean, there at least used to be the Fairness Doctrine.

The Fairness Doctrine only ever applied to broadcasters. Newspapers, which were at the time the main source of breaking news stories, were never covered.
posted by mark k at 8:08 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


Lawyers doubt Julian Assange will ever stand trial in Sweden
“It’s not going to happen. Julian Assange cannot be extradited to Sweden when the European arrest warrant against him was withdrawn as early as May 2017. As the US has now submitted an extradition application, the Americans have preferential rights under international rules.”
So by hiding in an Ecuadorian cupboard for seven years he's made it more likely he'll be extradited to the USA instead of facing justice in Sweden. Hopefully he'll be first punished in the UK for skipping bail - a recent fugitive got an extra half a year in prison for spending 10 months on the run.
posted by JonB at 8:19 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Apply some critical analysis.....

The allocation of resources is not value neutral. Wikileaks made the choice to target its resources at Democrats and Hillary Clinton, rather than Russia. Julian Assange made the choice to use Wikileaks resources and his own fame to attack women and prop up fascists. This isn't obfuscation. This is a critical analysis of his choices.
posted by Mavri at 8:19 AM on April 12 [14 favorites]


publication of a massive trove of classified materials leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including videos of 2007 and 2009 military strikes that exposed the cruelties of the ongoing ‘war on terror.’ This work was rightly viewed as critical muckraking journalism and probably did a great deal of long-term good.

This is a rather generous reimagining of the various establishment war on Wikileaks, ranging from driving them away from AWS and other hosting spaces as well as making sure they couldn't collect any donations through credit cards and EFT. Rightly viewed by some, perhaps, but this makes it sound like it was a firmly mainstream opinion which it assuredly was not.
posted by phearlez at 8:19 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I mean, there at least used to be the Fairness Doctrine. Pretty sure if it was still in place we would not have Fox News.

That's not accurate. It only ever applied to broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, etc.) not to cable channels. Fox News would be unaffected and CBS / ABC / etc. would be unable to run, for example, a Kapernick piece without conservatives flipping out about how the "conservative" viewpoint wasn't accurately portrayed or given enough time.

The Fairness Doctrine is a fundamentally flawed idea in so many ways, but in addition to that, it would not affect Fox News.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:24 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking specifically of the fairness doctrine, and the court hearings on publishing the pentagon papers.

I see what you mean; that is not how I would describe those things but I understand where you are coming from.

The fairness doctrine is flawed and I think it should not be reinstated but you are right that it used to be a thing. It has always been about balancing the public's right to benefit from public resources (broadcast airwaves) with private ownership of those resources. Now it looks like the best approach would be to limit ownership to keep there from being too little diversity in ownership. There are also so many other resources for news etc. that net neutrality (for example) is probably much more important from a viewpoint-diversity perspective.

In terms of publishing classified information, that's somewhat complicated history. The default has always been that the government cannot keep you from publishing information, and only in certain highly-specific circumstances is the government allowed to prevent such a publication. That is the inverse of having a default that you cannot publish a certain type of information unless it meets a certain standard. (Note that this only deals with publishing information, not taking it from the gov't, leaking it to the press, or similar, which are all very different legally than publishing that information.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:31 AM on April 12


Generally, the first amendment and free speech are essentially the only things the US legal system has ever really consistently done right. You should be really wary of the fact that just as speech becomes affordable for people who aren't rich publishers/broadcasters, restricting and regulating speech is on the table, politically. I realize that terrible people justify a lot of terrible behavior in the name of "free speech" but it's also true that freedom of speech is incredibly important for positive political movements of all kinds.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:35 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


Well, we were totally wrong that he could just walk out of the embassy and not be extradited to the US, but now we're definitely, positively sure that the US won't do anything at all untoward toward him.

Exactly no one in this thread has made that claim. People have said, and I agree, that the US will not execute the guy. We all may be wrong about that, but it seems extremely unlikely.

You are welcome to be as angry as you like, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone in this thread who has suggested that the US administration is trustworthy or has been in the past. Feel free to beat that strawman into the ground if you find it satisfying, but it baffles me why commenters here have somehow become targets for your ire. We don’t even all agree.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:44 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


Laurie Penny: If you really believe in WikiLeaks, you must want Assange to face up to justice
Let’s be clear here: nobody should have to stifle one set of principles in order to allow another to live. If you choose to do so, that’s a matter for your conscience. For myself, I believe in freedom of speech, and in the power of journalism– it’s what I do for a living. I believe that governments need to be made to answer for pursuing profit in the name of peace and massacring thousands in the name of security. I believe in ending the age of secrecy, and I believe that the United States currently seeks to prevent that by pursuing and prosecuting hackers, whistleblowers and journalists across the world. And I also believe women.

...

It is not only possible to defend both women’s rights and freedom of speech. It is morally inconsistent to defend one without the other. Cultures of secrecy, covert violence and unaccountability need to be exposed. That’s what Wikileaks is supposed to be about, and it’s also what feminism is about, and right now, governments are terrified of both. That, if nothing else, should tell us where the lines of power are really drawn.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:45 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]


Which is to say, different people here have expressed different opinions. It’s true that a majority of the commenters seem to agree that this guy is an asshole. Apart from that, there are a variety of opinions about how shitty the US is being, although there’s a certain amount of consensus that the US is, indeed, being shitty.

TL;DR: MetaFilter remains a land of contrasts, and YMMV.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:48 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


So, nobody else remembers when the talking point was "He can just walk out of the embassy?"

Additionally to points above replying to this, when some of us were saying that sort of thing he could have walked out to face the European Arrest Warrant, and it's reasonable to suppose that would have taken precedence over any US extradition attempt from the UK.
posted by edd at 8:51 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure if it was still in place we would not have Fox News

We absolutely would, because the Fairness Doctrine never covered cable channels. The constitutional authority the FCC used to regulate speech on the airwaves- an inherently common resource, as you can't manufacture spectrum- does not apply to newspapers, cable channels, or the internet.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:52 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack, thank you for the link above. The essay is powerful and worth reading. (I was taken aback at first until I checked the date of publication and realized it was from 2012. That is simply for context.)
posted by Bella Donna at 8:56 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


So by hiding in an Ecuadorian cupboard for seven years he's made it more likely he'll be extradited to the USA instead of facing justice in Sweden. Hopefully he'll be first punished in the UK for skipping bail - a recent fugitive got an extra half a year in prison for spending 10 months on the run.

Yeah, it’s hard to feel really bad for someone who is 1) entirely responsible for his own plight and 2) has intentionally denied justice for his victims.

Remember, Assange smeared his victims and refused to give them justice, hiding behind the possibility of extradition from Sweden. As a result of his cowardice, he’s spent the better part of a decade in voluntary imprisonment. That, alone, has made his extradition to the US more likely - he escaped justice in Sweden, the charges were dropped and the arrest warrant cancelled, and that’s allowed the US (the administration that he intentionally helped into power, hahaha) to take priority in extradition proceedings. Wait, you say - doesn’t that imply a stitch-up? How did the US get the request in so quickly? Well, yes, it does suggest that either Ecuador or the UK (or both) tipped off the US. So... perhaps he miscalculated in thinking that he’d be better off in the Ecuadorian embassy to the UK, rather than in Sweden? Or perhaps he just wanted to escape justice for being a rapist, and the political asylum schtick was all in service of that end?

Finally, aside from the whole jumping-bail-to-avoid-being-held-accountable-for-raping-people thing, his own conduct during his time at the embassy was basically daring his hosts to kick him out and cause this eventuality. There was the whole “engaging in espionage to interfere in the US elections” thing. To say nothing of his personal conduct, which appears to be nothing short of disgraceful. As others have said better than me:
I mean, regardless of your politics, I think you have to admit there is a certain merit to expelling a man skateboarding around your embassy in his underwear flinging his own feces.

...

you are a fugitive from the world's most powerful country hiding in a small country's embassy. do you:

(a) be the most well-behaved houseguest in history

(b) pop ollies and refuse to take care of your cat
He just seems like a deeply shitty person with no morals, who’s also independently made a number of very stupid and short-sighted decisions?
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:22 AM on April 12 [31 favorites]


I know it’s tempting to think of the poop-flinging as just juicy gossip. But actually, it’s all part and parcel of someone whose defining characteristic is a refusal to honor other people’s boundaries, and to use their own values against them.

The women who he assaulted didn’t want to come forward initially because they shared common political values. He got away with abusing them because he knew their morality would act as a protective force against his bad actions. Similarly, he knew Ecuador wanted to take a moral stand against US action, and so was reluctant to expel him. So he did what he’s always done - pushes the boundary as far as it could possibly go, secure in the idea that other people’s morals would protect him from consequences.

If we talk about him without including this, it’s a problem.
posted by corb at 9:32 AM on April 12 [45 favorites]


Also, from a friend in Stockholm: "Post one tenth about Reality Winner as you do about that mangy Australian and maybe I'll care what you have to say about protecting leakers. ... he rolled into stockholm like a rock star. remember he was here to get residency because sweden had the best press protection laws in the world !! But then for years he and his hordes attacked Sweden as the home of frigid radical feminists who screamed rape at everyone. He's viiiiiiiile."

As she recalls, after the accusations came to light, "i had men telling me that NIGHT in stockholm that it was a honey trap. Swedish men, such feminists." Her parting shot: "Fuck Julian Assange (an opinion a decade in the making)" so yeah, I'm with her.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:20 AM on April 12 [40 favorites]


I always took "He could just leave" as a retort to the many people who referred to his circumstances as some form of imprisonment itself. In his own tweets and other messages, he constantly showed a lack of gratitude to Ecuador by implying that the embassy was a kind of confinement, when it was of course a refuge. Once he got kicked out, more than a few folks made the requisite joke that "You're finally released from captivity, Julian! Taste the air of freedom!"
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:23 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


Following up so as not to use edit... anyone who accepts the "X months/years of captivity" spin employed by him and his fans is implying a lot of weird things about law and justice. If a country (whose administration of criminal justice one has no significant reason to mistrust) is seeking to try someone, and that someone elects to go fugitive instead, they're not actually any kind of victim of that criminal justice system. They haven't even experienced that system yet! Only if you're really dead-set on the MRA narrative that laws shouldn't care about condoms or whatever does that begin to cohere (and not into something pretty).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:28 AM on April 12 [15 favorites]


Reading through a previous thread on Assange's asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy I came across this quote:

"Whether he does or does not face a (most likely extralegal) danger of ending up in the US does not matter. What matters is What the Ecuadorans think about it. If you are not speaking to that you are just flinging shit at the walls."

hmmm
posted by ODiV at 11:02 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


anyone who accepts the "X months/years of captivity" spin employed by him and his fans is implying a lot of weird things about law and justice. If a country (whose administration of criminal justice one has no significant reason to mistrust) is seeking to try someone, and that someone elects to go fugitive instead, they're not actually any kind of victim of that criminal justice system.

It’s exactly the attitude taken by Polanski’s defenders, too. He’s somehow a victim of the American justice system because... He chose to skip bail and now he can’t go back there? He hasn’t been forgotten and people are still really keen to arrest him? It shows a deeply weird attitude to rule-of-law, and it’s not entirely clear why these men in particular should get a pass.

Also, worth remembering that Assange fucked his supporters out of about 300,000 quid when he broke his bail conditions, including several people who couldn’t really afford it:
[The chief magistrate] said he also took account of the sureties' means.

"Professor David is a pensioner and the sum of £20,000 comprises a substantial portion of her savings jointly with her husband," he ruled.

"Sarah Saunders has also provided details of her financial position and I am satisfied that she is of comparatively limited means. Mr Vaughan Smith tells me that if he forfeits the £20,000 surety it will have a significant impact on the welfare of his family and his employees."
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:20 AM on April 12 [12 favorites]


I don't have a problem acknowledging that being confined - self-imposed or not - to a smallish space is a drag. Being housebound with a cold sucks. Being snowbound makes you twitchy pretty quick. But even if Assange had justifiable reasons to be skeptical of U.S. actions - and I have no problem saying that someone should not just take U.S. assertions at face value, even before Trump Co. - it's not like he'd been chased into the embassy by a pack of rabid dogs and stepping outside meant immediate death by fido. He had avenues to negotiate, he just didn't seem to like any choices other than "skate totally free and clear."

Okay. Your choice, bub. We get that this life was probably a drag. But you picked it, so why should we care one iota that it wasn't your childhood dream? Even if you weren't a misogynist rapeboi piece of crap, that is.
posted by phearlez at 11:27 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


This Twitter thread deftly argues that Assange could easily have been BSing about cracking the hash.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:11 PM on April 12


This Twitter thread deftly argues that Assange could easily have been BSing about cracking the hash.

The problem is that the "I'm not guilty of conspiracy because I'm a world class bullshitter" defense is not exactly a good one.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:18 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


He Assange was lying to Manning about his ability to get an untraceable login in order to string along Manning to risk her life for him, he's even more of a shitheel.
posted by JackFlash at 12:21 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


I think we can recognize a distinction in action here, that Manning can be a whistleblower and Assange conducting espionage at the same time.
posted by kafziel at 12:31 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Julian Assange Got What He Deserved, Michael Weiss, The Atlantic
All Our Righteous Scumbags, Sam Thielman, Columbia Journalism Review
The Next Woodward and Bernstein Could Go To Jail, Branko Marcetic, Jacobin
Punishing Assange Isn't Worth Killing A Free Press, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason
The Wikileaks Case Is Just Beginning, Nicholas Weaver, Lawfare
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:01 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]




The fun thing about conspiracy is you don't have to succeed, or even have the ability to succeed, in completing the crime, all you need is agreement to commit the crime and an overt act. Like passing a rainbow table. Even if its a fake rainbow table.

If we both agree to rob a bank, and I give you a fake gun to do it with, guess what? We're both in a conspiracy to rob a bank.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:39 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Assange being a shitheel and stringing a source along with promises of highly technical help that he wasn't actually bothered to provide would be extremely on-brand.

The chat logs certainly seem like probable cause to me! but on their own, are they proof beyond a reasonable doubt? I don't know, and I suspect neither did the prosecutors who first took a look and seemingly didn't move forward with it. I guess it's a judgement call but would a jury be likely to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Assange definitely tried to crack the NTLM hash? I don't know.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:41 PM on April 12


He really could just have done absolute fuck-all with the hash, never ran it through any rainbow tables, and never passed it on to anyone, because he had other things on his mind and didn't think it was worth his time, and also he's a lying piece of shit in general. It might just have sat in his email inbox (or wherever), totally ignored. In which case, he'd seem to be in the clear, legally speaking.

I think that would be a fairly reasonable sequence of events all things considered.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:47 PM on April 12


The fact that the U.S. government does bad things does not make anyone who claims to be working against them a good person regardless of their actions.
posted by bongo_x at 2:31 PM on April 12 [15 favorites]


A New Yorker article suggests that Assange basically made it sound to Manning like he was going to do something to help crack the code but actually did nothing. This is how it ends: ... one irony is easy to discern: Assange clearly believed that a Donald J. Trump Presidency would benefit him, and yet it was the Trump Administration that sought to redefine WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service”—an organization that did not belong within the ambit of journalism. Assange, a devoted opponent of what he describes as American imperial power, has welcomed Trump’s degradation of U.S. norms and institutions. Now his fate will be determined by the health of those same institutions. On Thursday morning, while he was being shoved into a police van, he suddenly changed his mind about British sovereignty. “U.K., resist!” he yelled out. “Resist this attempt by the Trump Administration!”
posted by Bella Donna at 2:38 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


I’ve yet to see anyone explain how If Assange wasn’t extradited to the US that literally anything would be better for anyone besides... Assange. I’m sick of these messianic personality cult Internet figures getting a free pass because they claim to support positive philosophies.
posted by Drumhellz at 3:05 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Manning is currently sitting in jail, refusing to testify to the grand jury, to protect Assange. I wonder how she will feel when she finds out that Assange's defense is throwing her under the bus to save his own skin, claiming that he was just stringing her along about helping to break into the computer system.
posted by JackFlash at 3:08 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


It will be tidy if Assange gets fucked over by the Trump administration he was so devoted to putting into place. True justice for once.

There are aspects of this that I'm not thrilled about for the sake of some future equivalent that isn't a white supremacist d-bag rapist, but watching Assange discover just how disposable he is to the monsters he was sucking up to does entertain.
posted by tavella at 3:25 PM on April 12 [8 favorites]


Just found out about the poop spreading on the walls. I'm amazed they didn't throw him out right after that one.

Lack of sunlight, indeed.

Also can't stop laughing at all of this now. I haven't laughed so hard since Operation Varsity Blues.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:43 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Lawyers doubt Julian Assange will ever stand trial in Sweden
“It’s not going to happen. Julian Assange cannot be extradited to Sweden when the European arrest warrant against him was withdrawn as early as May 2017. As the US has now submitted an extradition application, the Americans have preferential rights under international rules.”
So by hiding in an Ecuadorian cupboard for seven years he's made it more likely he'll be extradited to the USA instead of facing justice in Sweden. Hopefully he'll be first punished in the UK for skipping bail - a recent fugitive got an extra half a year in prison for spending 10 months on the run.


That is what I am afraid of. Julian Assange went into that embassy to avoid sexual assault charges. Those charges are more serious in my mind than the charges of helping to hack into a database. There is an important precedent to be set--that a journalist cannot assist in the committing of a crime by a source or other party, but I still believe the crimes against the women are more important because he ran from those charges and those who run and get the charges dropped for a long time must be punished.

Discussion of the US charges brings me to one part of the Manning case. Ms. Manning was not a whistleblower. Setting aside the legal reasons why she was not entitled to whistleblower status, she handed over information that she did not have access to which she stole from the government. She sought materials she had no access to and no idea what they said and then stole them and handed them over to a third party. That is not whistleblowing. That is a straight up violation of the Espionage Act.

And if Manning is not a whistleblower, then neither is Assange. Although I do not know if just throwing stuff out willy-nilly is journalism, granting that status makes him a journalist who helped a source commit a crime. That is conspiracy and attempt. Either way, he committed criminal acts.

Does anyone here believe it should not be a crime for a journalist to help a source to hack into a computer they do not have access to get classified information they do not have access to as part of their job? How about a hacker who breaks into government systems who has no legitimate access to any information in that system?

Let's say a source had access to information during the day, but it was locked in an office at night. If a reporter gave the source a lockpick to break into the office and copy the documents, that would be a crime. Yesterdays lock pick set is today's password hacking.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:04 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


For some people the fact that “information” is classified is the only consideration, the actual content of the “information” is irrelevant; governments have the right to keep their crimes secret. Manning was not a whistleblower but was committing espionage on behalf of a hostile power, the public.
posted by moorooka at 4:27 PM on April 12 [8 favorites]




Manning is currently sitting in jail, refusing to testify to the grand jury, to protect Assange. I wonder how she will feel when she finds out that Assange's defense is throwing her under the bus to save his own skin, claiming that he was just stringing her along about helping to break into the computer system.

She isn't doing it to protect Assange, jesus. Her team released a statement, she's said that any testimony she could have given is merely duplicating statements she's already given and as such her testimony could not contribute to a grand jury investigation. The only reason she was subpoena'd by the grand jury was to try to trap her in a false perjury claim and imprison her.

To quote Evan Greer of Fight for the Future on the subject:

“Chelsea Manning is a brave, kind, and principled person who has suffered immensely at the hands of the US government simply for speaking out and standing up for human rights. We unequivocally condemn the decision to jail her for continuing to stand on her convictions and mounting a principled opposition to testifying before a Grand Jury.

Grand Juries have frequently been used as secretive tools to punish, harass, and entrap activists. There is a long and important history of resisting these acts of government overreach. Chelsea is one of the most principled people I have ever met. Punishing her with more prison time is not going to change her decision –– it will simply cause her more unnecessary suffering.

Officials must reverse this decision and release Chelsea Manning immediately.”


This isn't her protecting Assange. This is her protesting Grand Juries and protecting herself.
posted by kafziel at 5:21 PM on April 12 [9 favorites]


This is her protesting Grand Juries and protecting herself.

So what exactly is going on here? Is it just a general protest against the idea of grand juries? Because, Mueller, for example, might have different ideas about that.

Or is she actually protecting herself - but it what way? Are there other crimes she may have committed? If that were the case then she could have simply asserted her 5th amendment privilege and a judge would not require her to testify. But apparently she has not asserted her 5th amendment privilege or she wouldn't be in jail.

Or is she afraid that she will commit some other perjury. The best defense to that is not to lie.

And to avoid any sort of entrapment or perjury, she is literally allowed to walk out and ask to speak to her attorney, outside the courtroom, about any dubious question, at any time.

So it isn't clear to me what is going on here. The most likely explanation is that there are other people involved in the crime that she doesn't want to talk about and incriminate. And that is what she is protesting. It isn't about protecting herself. It is about protecting others, whoever that may be.
posted by JackFlash at 6:42 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Question. When Assange skipped bail, and all those people had to give all that cash to the court because they guaranteed his bail bond, now that he’s been arrested, is that money returned? Because it was a significant financial burden to a lot of people.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:22 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


The only reason she was subpoena'd by the grand jury was to try to trap her in a false perjury claim and imprison her.

This is exactly and precisely the claim made by Trump's people as to why he shouldn't be questioned by investigators. Generally speaking, the Perjury Trap theory is a bad one.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


Her team released a statement, she's said that any testimony she could have given is merely duplicating statements she's already given and as such her testimony could not contribute to a grand jury investigation. The only reason she was subpoena'd by the grand jury was to try to trap her in a false perjury claim and imprison her.


You know what's funny? I've been a litigator 14 years and I have yet to see a single "perjury trap." If anyone could explain to me what questions they could ask her that would force her to lie, I'd love to hear it. Her sentence was commutted. Not sure how she could be forced to provide provably false testimony.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:43 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Does anyone here believe it should not be a crime for a journalist to help a source to hack into a computer they do not have access to get classified information they do not have access to as part of their job?

If it's to stop or expose war crimes? Then yeah, I think "stopping or exposing war crimes" should be a valid defense for a fairly broad range of nonviolent crimes.
posted by Pyry at 7:45 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


Like in some states it is legal to kill someone trying to steal your stamp collection. I do not think I am being unreasonably radical to suggest that trespass on a computer system might be excused if it's to expose literal war crimes.
posted by Pyry at 7:49 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


You know what's funny? I've been a litigator 14 years and I have yet to see a single "perjury trap." If anyone could explain to me what questions they could ask her that would force her to lie, I'd love to hear it. Her sentence was commutted. Not sure how she could be forced to provide provably false testimony.

Been present and in the room for a lot of grand jury interrogations of activists, have you? As a litigator?

When the American Bar Association is warning about how abusive and dangerous these things can be, it seems weird to be that glib.
posted by kafziel at 7:50 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


Does anyone here believe it should not be a crime for a journalist to help a source to hack into a computer they do not have access to get classified information they do not have access to as part of their job?

If it's to stop or expose war crimes? Then yeah, I think "stopping or exposing war crimes" should be a valid defense for a fairly broad range of nonviolent crimes
.

How is one supposed to know that there is evidence of war crimes in a database one does not have access to? Because Manning actually stole information she did not have access to.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


You know what's funny? I've been a litigator 14 years and I have yet to see a single "perjury trap." If anyone could explain to me what questions they could ask her that would force her to lie, I'd love to hear it. Her sentence was commutted. Not sure how she could be forced to provide provably false testimony.

Been present and in the room for a lot of grand jury interrogations of activists, have you? As a litigator?

When the American Bar Association is warning about how abusive and dangerous these things can be, it seems weird to be that glib.


What question could she concievably be "forced" to give false testimony on? Explain.

How would you be in a grand jury room where someone else was being investigated?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:34 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I think we all know Manning just doesn't want to answer some questions. That's fine. There may well be situations where I would be willing to be jailed rather than answer certain questions. The "perjury trap" thing is simply a deflection, same as with Trump.

Perhaps she's (morally rather than legally) justified in that refusal. Perhaps not. It really depends on what questions are the issue, and we don't know the answer to that. But nobody can seriously believe the problem is being forced to commit perjury.
posted by Justinian at 8:40 PM on April 12


Like in some states it is legal to kill someone trying to steal your stamp collection. I do not think I am being unreasonably radical to suggest that trespass on a computer system might be excused if it's to expose literal war crimes.

There is no "stamp collection" exception to murder. It involves where you are (in the home or not) and whether you can retreat or not. The subject of the theft is irrelevant to the determination.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


If it's to stop or expose war crimes? Then yeah, I think "stopping or exposing war crimes" should be a valid defense for a fairly broad range of nonviolent crimes.

Assange is welcome to assert that defense in court, where we would have an opportunity to evaluate the extent to which his “nonviolent” crimes supported less noble aims, too.
posted by SakuraK at 9:52 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


If what she's saying is accurate- that they are only asking for testimony she has already given- that's sort of the first step of a perjury trap. They would have no need for the testimony and the only thing that could come out of it would be her contradicting her previous testimony, and perjuring herself by accident*. So she's articulated the issue much better than Trump, who had no prior testimony to contradict.

I'm not saying that's what is really happening, but "I gave you this before, I am not going under oath again so you can catch me when I inevitably contradict myself" is not a stupid argument (unlike Trump's, which is).

*yes I know perjury has to be intentional, but they'd have a case to make if she contradicted herself
posted by BungaDunga at 10:45 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Gary McKinnon hacked into the US military networks to try and find evidence of UFOs and free-energy technology. He managed to avoid extradition from the UK (and quite right, too).
posted by BungaDunga at 11:43 PM on April 12


If what she's saying is accurate- that they are only asking for testimony she has already given- that's sort of the first step of a perjury trap. They would have no need for the testimony and the only thing that could come out of it would be her contradicting her previous testimony, and perjuring herself by accident*. So she's articulated the issue much better than Trump, who had no prior testimony to contradict.

They don't prosecute perjury for memory lapses. The reason she has to testify in front of the Grand Jury is that she will have to testify in court against him. You see, Assange has a Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers. So to make their case against him they first run it by the Grand Jury.

And this is the "perjury trap." She does not want to testify against him. She'd like to lie and say she was wrong in what she said before. She accepted that commutation, so she has to.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:57 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Noam Chomsky: Arrest of Assange Is “Scandalous” and Highlights Shocking Extraterritorial Reach of U.S.
Well, the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects. One of them is just the effort of governments—and it’s not just the U.S. government. The British are cooperating. Ecuador, of course, is now cooperating. Sweden, before, had cooperated. The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about—OK?—that’s basically what happened. WikiLeaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power. People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.
...
Well, Assange is a similar case: We’ve got to silence this voice. You go back to history. Some of you may recall when Mussolini’s fascist government put Antonio Gramsci in jail. The prosecutor said, “We have to silence this voice for 20 years. Can’t let it speak.” That’s Assange. That’s Lula. There are other cases. That’s one scandal.

The other scandal is just the extraterritorial reach of the United States, which is shocking. I mean, why should the United States—why should any—no other state could possibly do it. But why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world? I mean, it’s an outlandish situation. It goes on all the time. We never even notice it.
...
Why is this accepted? So, in this case, why is it acceptable for the United States to have the power to even begin to give even a proposal to extradite somebody whose crime is to expose to the public materials that people in power don’t want them to see? That’s basically what’s happening.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:18 AM on April 13


They don't prosecute perjury for memory lapses.

How are they to know whether something is a memory lapse or a lie unless they prosecute?

I'm not a lawyer and have never had anything to do with the US justice system – thank goodness! – but literally every bit of general legal advice aimed at laypeople that I've read says that you should never voluntarily speak to law enforcement.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:39 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


They don't prosecute perjury for memory lapses.

This is an absurd statement and as an attorney you should know better than to say something this general. Prosecutors have an incredible amount of discretion and "they" (really a lot of different independent people & organizations) prosecute perjury for all kinds of things. You seem to be operating on some kind of "prosecutors would never!!!" kind of theory where they are always right or even always care about the guilt of the people they prosecute and...let me just say that you are exposing either deep naïveté or your reasoning is highly motivated.

The reason she has to testify in front of the Grand Jury is that she will have to testify in court against him. You see, Assange has a Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers. So to make their case against him they first run it by the Grand Jury.

The sixth amendment is tangentially relevant at best. You make it sound like it requires everyone's accusers to testify before the grand jury; it obviously doesn't. And clearly they can indict Assange without her testimony and we know this because THEY ALREADY DID IT
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:47 AM on April 13 [8 favorites]


Sweden, before, had cooperated.


Yep, the Internet is full of hot takes that say, either implicitly or explicitly, that of course the sexual assault and rape charges aren't legitimate.

Rape apologists everywhere.
posted by Dysk at 5:50 AM on April 13 [9 favorites]


In re Chelsea Manning and the grand jury:

Grand juries in political cases are often pretty shady. There was a bunch of grand jury activity here in MPLS around anti-war activism a few years ago. I very distantly know someone who refused to testify about another, different case and went to jail for a few months.

The whole thing is secret, the jurors are hand-picked by the court system and can be totally biased - the kinds of people who would never be on a public jury about the case - and the court can ask anything, regardless of the matter at hand. It's common to use grand juries against activists as "fishing expeditions" to try to get information on people who are unrelated to the case or only very distantly related and who haven't done anything wrong - it's a COINTELPRO/spying technique. They're also used to harass activists in general.

The people I know who have been involved with grand juries were either up before them for completely bullshit "your anti-war activism means that you are a terrorist spy" reasons or because they had known someone casually years before who was involved in actual wrongdoing and it was very clear that the whole thing was designed to threaten or entrap not people who had done the actual thing [think property destruction, not assault] but people who were activists in the same cause.

Basically, grand juries in these matters have been used to cast wide nets in secret and IMO to subvert democracy. In the one case, no crime had been committed so it would have been hard to have a public trial and in the other, a public trial would only have gotten the two (IIRC) people who actually did the thing instead of justifying harassing, like, their college roommates from years before who were also activists but not involved in any way.

Chelsea Manning, who is genuinely in danger in all this, is very right to refuse to testify. Grand juries are not like regular court (that bastion of justice...but at least regular court is relatively public). They're very shady and I would not be at all surprised if her testimony was used to entrap either her or people in her general circle who are not being charged and have done no wrong.
posted by Frowner at 6:22 AM on April 13 [18 favorites]


On another note: I think that a complicating factor in the reporting on all the Wikileaks/Assange/Manning stuff has always been that it's completely transparent to people in any kind of radical milieu but really opaque to people who are not familiar with the way that radical activists and journalists are targeted by the state - something that is always going on under the national radar. So some things (like the shadiness of the grand jury, the treatment of Manning and the diligent pursuit of hacking charges against Assange) are absolutely visible as a coordinated campaign if you are in this milieu and know about all the other stuff, but to people who aren't, it looks much more disconnected and "innocent", if you will, than it is.

But Assange is also recognizable as the exact kind of creep, bully and exploiter who has wrecked scenes and movements before, and who gets protected in activist milieux (which is a different matter morally than not wanting someone railroaded in what the ISO used to call the "bourgeois courts") because of apologism for rape and harassment. There was a huge situation similarly (though obviously with far less national/international import) in the Common Ground Collective after Katrina, something similar broke up the SWP and the ISO, etc. And I mean, I've met lesser people who reminded me a bit of Assange in their assumptions, demeanor and cult of personality stuff.

This happens, of course, among corporate types (see the entire #MeToo thing) so it's not like activist circles are uniquely bad, but people with sense expect a bit more from the left since we're supposed to be working towards a better world.
posted by Frowner at 6:35 AM on April 13 [19 favorites]


Protected in activist milieux from charges of rape and assault, that is. Worrying about someone getting railroaded on political charges is not the same thing as protecting them from accusations of rape.
posted by Frowner at 6:42 AM on April 13 [8 favorites]


The perjury trap, if you want to call it that, isn't about anything Manning has said before. It is for the future Assange trial.

Prosecutors are going to have to put Manning on the stand if they bring Assange to trial. Manning is an uncooperative witness. They want to lock down her testimony in the grand jury before she testifies in the trial to make her a more effective witness for the prosecution. Then if she starts equivocating while testifying in the Assange trial, they can refer her to her previous grand jury testimony to get her back on track, under threat of perjury.

This is all about her being an uncooperative witness, trying to protect Assange. Whether or not you think this is a heroic act depends on how you feel about the prosecution of Assange on these charges.
posted by JackFlash at 8:21 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I'm not a lawyer and have never had anything to do with the US justice system – thank goodness! – but literally every bit of general legal advice aimed at laypeople that I've read says that you should never voluntarily speak to law enforcement.

Nothing about this is voluntary. If you are subpoenaed, you have to testify. Ask Susan McDougal, or all the people complaining in the big politics thread that the House Democrats aren't being tough enough.

Grand juries are required to produce all federal criminal indictments, per the Fifth Amendment. Would you rather just have prosecutors decide these things on their own?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:27 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I think "stopping or exposing war crimes" should be a valid defense for a fairly broad range of nonviolent crimes.

Well yes, but part of breaking the law for a greater good is the knowledge that you may be forced to defend yourself. It's a fundamental part of civil disobedience. Assange hid in an embassy. And a lot of his actions since Wikileaks exposed war crimes call into question whether he was acting in an intentional way to expose a moral wrong or just wanted to fuck shit up and accidentally did something good.
posted by Mavri at 8:57 AM on April 13 [6 favorites]


The other scandal is just the extraterritorial reach of the United States, which is shocking. I mean, why should the United States—why should any—no other state could possibly do it. But why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world

I genuinely can not understand this line of argument. Extradition is governed by a bilateral treaty. We aren't stuffing Assange into a diplomatic bag and kidnapping him. He will avail himself of the entirety of British courts, and probably the European Court of Human Rights. If the Brits do not want to extradite him, they won't. Gary McKinnon wasn't, in the end. The UK is as sovereign as the US is, and if it wants to sign bilateral extradition treaties with the US, surely that is its perogative?

The US is not controlling what other people do in the rest of the world! It's prosecuting a crime that was allegedly perpetrated against the United States! The charge in this case, I'll grant, may be trumped up and weak. Okay. But there are a gazillion situations where someone might conspire to commit a crime in the US. Or is he just saying it's fine to let foreign hackers do whatever they want to American computers as long as they're physically in another country? This seems unsustainable.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:18 AM on April 13 [7 favorites]


*yes I know perjury has to be intentional, but they'd have a case to make if she contradicted herself

They don't prosecute perjury for memory lapses.

These are the standards for perjury at a trial. When testifying at a trial, perjury requires a willful misrepresentation of the truth. When testifying at a grand jury, perjury requires only that you say something that's technically untrue. If you misremember, if you believe you're telling the truth but you're mistaken, if your memory is faulty due to seven straight years of torture, doesn't matter, still perjury.

That's why grand juries are so dangerous, especially when there's politics in it, and dragging Manning in here is nothing but politically motivated. As internet fraud detective squad said, we know her testimony wasn't relevant to producing the indictment, because they did it without her already.
posted by kafziel at 12:26 PM on April 13 [7 favorites]


I'm one of those weird people who believe the authority of the law is derived from consent of the governed. Someone who is not a US national and has never chosen to set foot on our soil should not be subject to our jurisdiction. If the country in which he committed the crime doesn't find it worth pursuing, that's a political problem.

Yes, that sounds painfully close to the arguments of the Cliven Bundys of the world. They fail to recognize that by choosing to live in the US and maintain their nationality, they did in fact consent to be bound by US law.

Assange absolutely should be extradited to Sweden to face charges there. He committed a crime there and voluntarily subjected himself to Swedish law. Even if his victims were US nationals, Sweden would still be the proper venue.

I also think it's a shitty prosecution on other grounds, despite very much wanting to see him in punished for any or all of the many things he has freely admitted to doing that don't edge uncomfortably close to suppression of a free press.

Lastly, much of the US prison system is literally torture. Sometimes by actual policy, as with years long solitary confinement, and sometimes by looking the other way while inmates rape or otherwise abuse each other. That alone provides ample reason for any legitimate government to deny extradition to the US. One need not get off into the philosophical weeds to oppose the US getting its hands on Assange, nor must one like him or agree with him in any way. Even terrible people shouldn't be tortured.
posted by wierdo at 1:20 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


We have only Manning’s word that her testimony would have been duplicative of past testimony. It wasn’t needed to produce the indictment we’ve seen; it could easily have been necessary for other charges, though. I’m curious whether she was offered immunity, which would have enabled her to testify without personal risk. Immunity for grand jury testimony is common enough that it would be notable if it wasn’t offered this time, meaning prosecutors see significant new criminal exposure for Manning which they want the option to pursue. Alternatively, if immunity was offered and Manning refused, it speaks to her protecting someone else from significant new criminal liability. Either way there is more at stake than the allegations we already know about.
posted by SakuraK at 1:36 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Chomsky's view is instructive, and I think the correct one. He is clearly saying that the US is willing to abuse extradition in order to get what it really wants, which is to silence activists, which is what repressive state actors do. I think that is the essential point in the video. This is the way to read what he's saying otherwise his whole digression about Brazil wouldn't make any sense.

Chomsky is not a newspaper op-ed. His reasoning cannot be successfully followed without paying close attention to what and how he is saying and in my experience it's like doing homework. I watched the same video yesterday and had to think pretty non-casually about it on and off over a day to make sense of it. So I don't say I think he's right lightly.
posted by polymodus at 1:38 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


who is not a US national and has never chosen to set foot on our soil should not be subject to our jurisdiction

I know hypotheticals are not great, but suppose an estranged foreign-citizen father organizes to kidnap his children from the US. All of his actions take place abroad, in a jurisdiction that recognizes his paternity and doesn't care about a kidnap plot. The plot fails when the actual kidnappers are arrested, tried, and convicted. He is indicted as the mastermind of the conspiracy. His home country won't extradite because there's no crime as far as they're concerned. One day he takes a vacation to a friendly jurisdiction with slightly less patriarchal laws, who would extradite him if we asked. That friendly country has even less jurisdiction, so they won't prosecute.

What are US prosecutors supposed to do? Just let the whole thing go? The same basic problem applies to the rare case of foreign-directed international terrorism. I don't think the US should just say: well, you masterminded 9/11, but since you didn't actually step foot in the US, we will not try to bring you here. (obviously we have discarded the rule of law wholesale in terrorism cases and I am not saying extraordinary rendition, black sites, and so on are good. I'm talking bilateral extradition, rule of law, etc)
posted by BungaDunga at 1:39 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


That is I am not saying that the US doesn't abuse extradition treaties, or that Assange should go to the US, or that the UK shouldn't be very careful in acceding to these things. I was really pleased when McKinnon managed to thwart his extradition. I think Sweden should have first crack at Assange and it is an abuse for the US to have been notified and the Swedes not.

But I also have no problem at all with the US trying foreign people for crimes committed against Americans. If we'd gotten KSM extradited and tried in the federal courts in NY, instead of black-sited and tortured, we'd all be much, much better off.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:46 PM on April 13 [5 favorites]


Someone who is not a US national and has never chosen to set foot on our soil should not be subject to our jurisdiction. If the country in which he committed the crime doesn't find it worth pursuing, that's a political problem.

See I don't think it makes sense to think of this crime as having been committed anywhere but the United States. Assange wasn't there, no, but the computers he accessed were. In that sense, the extradition is no more ridiculous than extradition someone from Canada who throws rocks at windows over the border.
posted by Dysk at 1:47 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the Manning half of the conspiracy (pulling the NTLM hash out of the computer) absolutely happened in the US. It just seems untenable to split a conspiracy in half and say that only the parts of it that actually happened on US soil can be prosecuted by the US. As far as the US law is concerned it's all one big crime committed by several people.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:58 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Someone who is not a US national and has never chosen to set foot on our soil should not be subject to our jurisdiction. If the country in which he committed the crime doesn't find it worth pursuing, that's a political problem.

The issue here is that the systems accessed were in the US, which means the crime accused did take place in the US.

The example here would be, like. A river or something marks a border between two countries, I stand on one side of it and shoot someone on the other side. The country I'm in doesn't care about the crime and doesn't want to prosecute, the country the person died in very much does. Should they be able to demand extradition and prosecution? Did a murder take place there, or did all of my actions happen in the first country?
posted by kafziel at 2:04 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


Jesus Christ people, extraterritorial jurisdiction is hardly a new concept in legal systems. Feel free to argue about it all you want, but it's not unique to the US and to properly discuss this we should probably start out with the Alien Tort Statute (1789), then maybe the 1909 Wendel Holmes opinion re: the presumption against extraterritoriality, possibly followed by s.3 of the Statute of Westminster (1931), if we hope to have a reasonable grounds for discussion.

... I mean, if we intend to have a productive discussion on the legal concepts involved. Perhaps that's not really the goal.
posted by aramaic at 2:41 PM on April 13 [10 favorites]


Yeah, "we should rethink the entire basis of a fundamental and long established part of international jurisprudence" doesn't seem likely to be very fruitful.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on April 13 [7 favorites]


I'd like to apologize to everyone for not bringing the definitive international law text, Bart vs. Australia, into this discussion sooner.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:46 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


Lol Michael Weiss in the Atlantic referring to newly- emerged Assange’s appearance as “looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked from his spider hole.”
posted by spitbull at 5:10 PM on April 13 [12 favorites]


Interesting thread on the statutes for different offences (disguise versus crack), and the rule of specialty that may not protect Assange in the US.
posted by a non e mouse at 9:41 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Interesting the US had enough advance notice of this to arrest Manning, which otherwise makes little sense.
posted by jamjam at 12:21 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Is anybody really actually arguing about the basic legitimacy of extradition? The idea that countries or states can coordinate in how they run things? The Chomsky quotation someone linked didn't use the word extradition, to point that out; he was precisely talking about something else. They should not be conflated and doing so makes the discussion imprecise.
posted by polymodus at 3:23 AM on April 14




Even that is different. Maybe they think American jurisdiction in this particular case, has reason to be illegitimate. That's different than questioning the basic premise of extradition and its theories. So there's a actually a range of positions one can take on this.
posted by polymodus at 3:28 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Putin is a war criminal too. Assange worked to advance his interests.

Assange helped a war criminal steal an election.
posted by spitbull at 4:06 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Maybe they think American jurisdiction in this particular case, has reason to be illegitimate.

It's an awfully general phrasing if that's the case.
posted by Dysk at 4:18 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Someone who is not a US national and has never chosen to set foot on our soil should not be subject to our jurisdiction.

I think we beat this down the first time but this doctrine says you cannot commit a crime against America or Americans unless you're standing on American soil, which is absurd.
posted by scalefree at 4:47 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Most principles are not absolute, lest unusual circumstances lead to unjust results. That in no way diminishes their utility as an ideal to be strived for whenever reasonably possible.

Limitations on extraterritorial jurisdiction don't diminish extradition in any way, either. If someone commits a crime in one jurisdiction and then flees to another, they damn well should be sent back. That's an entirely different thing than routinely applying a single country's law to the entire planet as the US does.

If we're going to go down that road, I think the ICC offers a much better framework than individual countries deciding they get to apply their laws universally.

To pick one example, we have criminal copyright infringement statutes in the US. Those statutes are in direct contradiction with the laws of some other nations whose copyright terms are shorter, have registration requirements, etc. Or in some cases they have no concept of criminal copyright infringement in their law; it is a purely civil matter in those places.

It is the established policy of the US government that hosting copyrighted content on the Internet is a violation of US law, no matter where in the world it takes place. Why should we get to snatch them up from someplace else in the world and haul them before our courts when their actions were legal in their home country?
posted by wierdo at 10:19 AM on April 14


Copyright isn't the issue here either and is a distraction from what actually happened, which is the hacking into US servers hosted in the US. Unquestionably US jurisdiction.
posted by kafziel at 10:21 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Except that Assange isn't actually accused of accessing any computers in the US illegally? Don't accuse me of distraction when you're doing the same thing yourself, please.
posted by wierdo at 10:26 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I genuinely can not understand this line of argument. Extradition is governed by a bilateral treaty. We aren't stuffing Assange into a diplomatic bag and kidnapping him. He will avail himself of the entirety of British courts, and probably the European Court of Human Rights. If the Brits do not want to extradite him, they won't. Gary McKinnon wasn't, in the end. The UK is as sovereign as the US is, and if it wants to sign bilateral extradition treaties with the US, surely that is its perogative?

In fact, that is exactly how this all started. Sweden applied for extradition of Assange based on sex crimes. He fought it all the way through the courts and then fled to the Ecuadorian embassy hoping to be smuggled out in a diplomatic bag.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:30 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


is the established policy of the US government that hosting copyrighted content on the Internet is a violation of US law, no matter where in the world it takes place.

An American interest (generally an IP owner) has to be harmed for this to be the case, or the violation has to have partially occurred in the US (downloading the hosted content for example). So no, this isn’t the US acting as world copyright cop.
posted by spitbull at 10:55 AM on April 14


Yes, someone in the US downloading content from a server outside the US makes the owner of that server liable for copyright infringement in the US, even if the content is not under copyright protection in that jurisdiction. The reverse is also true.

If I were to publish certain databases here in the US, I could be prosecuted in many other countries that have a different conception of how copyright applies to databases. That's pretty damn bothersome if you work on certain types of projects.

Anyway, let's drop the copyright aside. It was meant to be an illustrative example of how the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction can lead to problematic results, not to be an exact recital of the state of copyright law.

As I said earlier, there are limited circumstances where I believe extraterritorial application of laws is necessary to avoid significantly unjust outcomes. I simply don't think that this particular case is one of them. Assange can get what's coming to him without invoking extraterritorial jurisdiction, so what exactly is the point in doing so?
posted by wierdo at 11:28 AM on April 14


All of the discussion of extraterritorial jurisdiction is a red herring. The database was a US government classified database. Every country in the world is going to have similar jurisdiction. It isn't like he was breaking into the Lego database stealing new designs--this is a government's own classified info.

All of this is the same special pleading Assange and his supporters have engaged in from the get-go. The sex laws of Sweden don't apply because they first wanted him to take an STD case. Because another country that had not filed charges yet might ask for his extradition, he is entitled to avoid prosecution for sex crimes. He can also avoid extradition unlike everyone else, despite losing his case. Because he publishes he can help break into computer systems. Because he exposed war crimes he is allowed to help break into computer systems that might have evidence of that. At what point do the laws apply to him?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:06 PM on April 14 [17 favorites]


Like in some states it is legal to kill someone trying to steal your stamp collection. I do not think I am being unreasonably radical to suggest that trespass on a computer system might be excused if it's to expose literal war crimes.

There is no "stamp collection" exception to murder. It involves where you are (in the home or not) and whether you can retreat or not.


We moved on from this long enough ago that the question of your disingenuousness about "stamp collection" as a sub-in for the idea of whether a person faces actual credible threat of harm is probably irrelevant. However this ignorant or deliberately deceitful invocation of whether you can retreat or not deserves to be addressed.

The thing that makes stand your ground laws so disgusting is that they explicitly remove the duty to retreat, or at least attempt to (even if it is limited to a few steps back), before using deadly force. So whether you can retreat or not is actually not involved in those states. Further, whether you're in your home or not may also mean you have no duty to retreat if the state follows castle doctrine to an extreme.
posted by phearlez at 2:54 PM on April 14


The thing that makes stand your ground laws so disgusting is that they explicitly remove the duty to retreat, or at least attempt to (even if it is limited to a few steps back), before using deadly force. So whether you can retreat or not is actually not involved in those states. Further, whether you're in your home or not may also mean you have no duty to retreat if the state follows castle doctrine to an extreme.

I agree on all of this. My point was it has nothing to do with this case.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:56 PM on April 14


I don't have a problem with Assange being prosecuted for his alleged assaults in Sweden, or for his alleged conspiracy &c in the USA. I have a problem with the UK pretending that they cared about the alleged assaults in Sweden; and I have many concerns about the USA's justice and penal system. I also have a specific very large concern: that the US has used and continues to use its "war on terror" as the justification for warrantless incarceration, and for torture, and for the use of military courts to try civilians. And worse!

This is a bit of a philosophical problem for me, because my usual attitude is that people charged with a crime should submit to trial, at which point (I tell myself) they will assuredly be triumphantly vindicated. That's not the case here. There's no reason to think Assange would actually receive a trial in the USA, at least not a civilian one, or that even a court martial would proceed without government interference: that's what happened in Guantanamo. The only way I can reconcile these concerns with my wish that Assange's receive a trial over his alleged conspiracy &c is by saying that the UK should not accede to the US' request until Assange can be guaranteed a civilian trial in America with all the protections an American citizen would have, and no punishment other than ones that would be applied to an American citizen in America. And those guarantees, obviously, would need to be backed up by something stronger than the administration's word, because we all know what that's worth.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:35 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I have a problem with the UK pretending that they cared about the alleged assaults in Sweden;

Eh? Who’s “the UK” and in what way were they “pretending”?

There was a European Arrest Warrant for Assange. It was an attempt to evade that which led directly to his current predicament. I know that everyone feels retroactively justified by the recent request from the US, but if you remember his whole point was that he conveniently needed political asylum because Sweden would extradite him, not the UK.

I’m from the UK, and I don’t really care one way or another whether he gets extradited to the US but I hope he gets his day in court in Sweden and the women he raped get justice.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 5:58 PM on April 14 [7 favorites]


There's no reason to think Assange would actually receive a trial in the USA, at least not a civilian one, or that even a court martial would proceed without government interference

That's just wrong. Assange is indicted in a federal grand jury by the US Attorney in Virginia, just like Paul Manafort. He will be tried in a US district federal court, just like Manafort.

Manning was a US Army soldier and her crimes were executed in her duties as a soldier, so as expected was tried in a military court.

Assange is not in the US military. He is not charged as an enemy combatant. He will not be tried in a military court.
posted by JackFlash at 6:11 PM on April 14 [16 favorites]




It's not even a wiki!

We don't know this for certain.
posted by srboisvert at 8:11 PM on April 14


Assange is not in the US military. He is not charged as an enemy combatant. He will not be tried in a military court.

You're very possibly right! I'm surprised you feel so certain, though. Look at the other lawless things the US has justified on those grounds. The US could easily charge him with other crimes after his extradition and the beleaguered UK would very likely acquiesce. I mean, the US persuaded a bunch of European countries to force down a plane carrying Bolivia's Head of State on the mere suspicion that Edward Snowden was inside. That must have hurt the US's diplomatic reputation dearly; in contrast, re-charging Assange would be comparatively cost free.

And you know, it's almost certain that Assange will be re-charged. IIUC the crime he's presently charged with doesn't come close to covering his alleged breaches of US law. The interests of justice, not to say prosecutorial flexibility, demand it. From what I understand the usual practice would be to charge him with a host of crimes, and then plea-bargain down in exchange for cooperation. They can't do that if the only thing on the table is the alleged conspiracy. So when he's re-charged, who's to say that the government won't argue that he's an enemy combatant? And whether he is or isn't, the US Supreme Court has said, IIUC, that non-citizens outside the US (i.e., in Guantanamo or another extra-territorial gulag) don't have the right of habeus corpus. So the only thing you have going for you is that they wouldn't do that to the one person in the world that both the US military and the Trump administration have the strongest incentive to silence.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:42 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Assange is not in the US military. He is not charged as an enemy combatant. He will not be tried in a military court.

You're very possibly right! I'm surprised you feel so certain, though. Look at the other lawless things the US has justified on those grounds.


He has already been charged in the U.S. District Court. Court-martial are for members of the military. To even get him in a military court, Nancy Pelosi would have to allow a vote to expand military tribunals. They will never do that. The current ones are such a mess, barely any of the suspects have been convicted.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


You seriously think Trump of all people (or his many handpicked, unconfirmed, minions) would have any qualms about labeling Assange an enemy combatant the moment he enters US custody and shipping him off to a military prison?

I don't find it particularly likely, even with this crowd, but to categorically rule it out seems..overly credulous..given that we have in the not too distant past literally kidnapped at least one person in a western nation and sent them off to a black site. That we know about.

I can't see any reason why the administration would risk the controversy when they could just as easily pile on charges to the existing indictment once the extradition is resolved if they feel the need to keep him contained or send a message or whatever else might be gained from their perspective from sending him to some black site somewhere.
posted by wierdo at 12:48 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


You seriously think Trump of all people (or his many handpicked, unconfirmed, minions) would have any qualms about labeling Assange an enemy combatant the moment he enters US custody and shipping him off to a military prison?

I don't put anything past Trump, but I'm not sure how that weighs into this.
We can't really use "something crazy Trump might do but hasn't made any mention of" as a guideline.
posted by bongo_x at 1:14 AM on April 15


The problem is that hard cases make bad law. Assange is about as unsympathetic a character as one can imagine, a skin-crawlingly predatory narcissist, and a lot of people would be quite comfortable if he ended up spending the rest of his life in a high-security dog-box under 24-hour fluorescent light, with Limp Bizkit's greatest hits pumped in at 100dB through three out-of-phase speaker systems. Having said that, while the case of him offering to crack a password is framed as not encroaching on journalism, closer examination of the indictment suggests that it would cover a lot of legitimate journalistic activities, such as protecting sources.

Of course, if the Trump administration want to bring down the hammer on troublemaking journalists, then Stinky McRapey is pretty much a gift from the gods. There aren't enough nose pegs in the world for everyone who'd want to prevent a chilling precedent from being set to publicly defend him.
posted by acb at 2:26 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


The thing is, if Assange was (as reports suggest) knowingly working for GRU, he is an enemy combatant. Trying him as one might be a whole lot less damaging than trying him on “hacking” charges which overlap with common-sense journalistic source-protection protocols.
posted by acb at 2:28 AM on April 15


Working for the GRU doesn't make you a combatant, any more than being a military medic does.
posted by Dysk at 3:12 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Working for the GRU doesn't make you a combatant, any more than being a military medic does.

In the US the term "includes a member, agent, or associate of al Qaida or the Taliban". That was according to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense in 2012 and (a) it was just his opinion; and (b) the law may have changed since then; but it's certainly a weighty view. As it happens, the conspiracy with which Assange was charged related to information concerning the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I think it would be a mistake to put too much weight on that, though, because cases like José Padilla's demonstrate the reality of US government prosecution of the War on Terror: they make the law up as they go along, and their targets are at a massive, massive, massive disadvantage in securing their rights.

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the US government was justified in holding Padilla without trial because:
  1. Padilla was "closely associated with al Qaeda," a designation for loosely knit insurgent groups sharing common ideals and tactics, "with which the United States is at war";
  2. he had engaged in "war-like acts, including conduct in preparation for acts of international terrorism";
  3. he had intelligence that could assist the United States in warding off future terrorist attacks; and
  4. he was a continuing threat to American security.
At least some, maybe all of those considerations apply to Assange. More significantly it is very strongly in the US government's interest, and also the Trump administration's interest, to ensure that Assange never speaks to a reporter or has access to a computer again. Under such circumstances I think it would be excessively sanguine to expect that they would seek a court's permission before doing anything inconsistent with Assange's rights.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


You're applying a logic that basically says nobody should ever be extradited to the US, ever, for any reason, because the US has a history of abusing certain powers in some cases.

That seems an untenable position.
posted by Dysk at 3:53 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


(And like, there is a lot of clear air between "he might be a GRU asset and thus he is and will be tried as an enemy combatant" and "the US has used inappropriately expanded definitions of 'enemy combatant' in the past, though not in a way that's directly applicable here, so we can't categorically rule out that the US might try similar funny business here". The level of exaggeration and hyperbole in some explanations of why Assange shouldn't be extradited is astounding, and making it hard to take any related arguments seriously either.)
posted by Dysk at 4:07 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


If information warfare/asymmetric warfare (of the sort the Russians have been developing aggressively over the past decade) is warfare, then a hacker and propaganda operative working for a hostile intelligence agency would be a combatant. Assange differs from a battlefield medic in that his role is an unambiguously offensive one.
posted by acb at 4:34 AM on April 15


Even if it's warfare, it's not combat.

And that's quite the if.
posted by Dysk at 4:45 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


cases like José Padilla's demonstrate the reality of US government prosecution of the War on Terror: they make the law up as they go along, and their targets are at a massive, massive, massive disadvantage in securing their rights.

Padilla was never tried as an enemy combatant. He was tried in US District Court and convicted. Bush's stunt got him nowhere.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:25 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


We can't really use "something crazy Trump might do but hasn't made any mention of" as a guideline.

The apparent conviction some have that Assange will be afforded due process and a fair (in the colloqual sense, not the bastardized legal sense that the Supreme Court has seen fit to ratify in other cases involving national security and/or classified materials) trial is not any less speculative.
posted by wierdo at 9:24 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


They're following the correct process so far. Lord knows they'd've been more than capable of just quietly flying him to a blacksite of they weren't interested in going via the legal system.
posted by Dysk at 10:45 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


You're applying a logic that basically says nobody should ever be extradited to the US, ever, for any reason, because the US has a history of abusing certain powers in some cases.

For what it's worth, that's been a recurring issue with regards to the death penalty & extradition. It doesn't seem farcical on its face, if a government holds that torture/execution is inhumane, then handing someone over when there's a strong chance they'd be faced with torture/execution isn't any better. If the US wants better international cooperation, we have a strong incentive to stop torturing/executing people.

Amnesty International calls on the UK to refuse to extradite or send in any other manner Julian Assange to the USA where there is a very real risk that he could face human rights violations, including detention conditions that would violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment and an unfair trial followed by possible execution, due to his work with Wikileaks.

“We are aware of allegations of rape and other sexual violence against Julian Assange, which should be properly investigated in a way that respects the rights of both the complainants and the accused and be brought to justice if there is sufficient evidence against him."

posted by CrystalDave at 10:53 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


Assange is not facing the death sentence, and it is not possible to take seriously anyone suggesting he is.
posted by Dysk at 10:55 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


For my part I don't see how we can possibly say what charges he will or won't face when the time comes. DoJustice amended a complaint about people bribing their kids' way into college after their initial court appearance, why wouldn't they amend a complaint against someone they believe committed a crime by leaking information that they assert endangered (or caused the death of) people?

It doesn't seem like it's possible to settle this though, so perhaps this is an agree to wait and see area?
posted by phearlez at 11:17 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


why wouldn't they amend a complaint against someone they believe committed a crime by leaking information that they assert endangered (or caused the death of) people?

Violation of extradition treaties, an avenue they'd presumably not like to cut off in future.
posted by Dysk at 11:22 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I will continue to presume this administration will only ever be bound by conventions and treaties they find convenient and will agree to wait and see.
posted by phearlez at 11:25 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


It's a nonsense to suggest Assange could be executed - a person cannot be extradited if they could face the death penalty, according to British legislation
posted by JonB at 12:55 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


It's a nonsense to suggest Assange could be executed - a person cannot be extradited if they could face the death penalty, according to British legislation

To reiterate phearlez's point above, do you think that British law is going to stop Trump etc. from deciding Assange needs to face a capital trial before the election if he thinks it'll get him four more votes?
posted by Etrigan at 1:39 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


a person cannot be extradited if they could face the death penalty, according to British legislation
For clarification, this is basically exactly what I'm saying. Not "Assange is at risk of execution", but "denying extradition for human rights abuses is already fairly established in that particular instance, so it doesn't seem much of a leap for other types of human rights abuses which the US engages in in various levels of frequency to similarly preclude extradition"
posted by CrystalDave at 1:54 PM on April 15


No sane administration would break a promise to the Brits not to put him on trial seeking the death penalty. Bush certainly wouldn't. It would make it literally impossible to ever extradite someone from Europe ever again. That's why such promises hold weight: sane administrations know they will want to extradite again in the future.

Of course, we don't have a sane administration, so technically anything could happen. When you have a bunch of chaotic evil people in charge, who knows what they'll do? But any traditionally evil administration would never renege on that sort of promise.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:05 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Of course, we don't have a sane administration, so technically anything could happen

Man, it’s almost as if Assange shouldn’t have done everything in his power to help Trump win the election, isn’t it. Your heart just bleeds for the guy currently hurtling up through the air, dragged by the unstoppable force of his own petard.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 2:17 PM on April 15 [28 favorites]


Nothing says "fighting for the freedom of the press" like DDoSing Ecuadorian institutions that were completely uninvolved:
Patricio Real, the county’s deputy minister for information and communication technologies, told Agence France Presse in an interview that Assange’s controversial arrest prompted a massive wave of cyberattacks against the country. They added up to a whopping 40 million attacks and “principally come from the United States, Brazil, Holland, Germany, Romania, France, Austria and the United Kingdom,” as well as from South America.

Javier Jara, Ecuador’s undersecretary of the electronic government department of the telecommunications ministry, added a little more context, telling the news service the attacks were “volumetric” and seemingly focused on overwhelming servers with traffic to render them useless. Those attacks hit the country’s foreign ministry, central bank, office of the president, internal revenue service and a number of ministries and universities particularly hard.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:12 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Assange reaps what he sows.
posted by JackFlash at 2:30 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]




I would assume that one of Trump's big fears right now is that someone will publish a leaked unredacted Mueller Report.

Wikileaks would be a logical candidate to leak it to – or would have been before this arrest. Because now, Trump has something Wikileaks might want: lenient treatment for Assange; and Wikileaks has shown itself to have more loyalty to their leader than their mission, in my opinion. So anyone who has the Report and wants it to see the light of day would be well advised to think twice about counting on Wikileaks.

However, if I were part of whatever passes for an executive council at Wikileaks and didn't have the Report, at the appropriate time I would definitely let it be known to Trump or someone who could speak to him without an intermediary that we did have it, and try to get the best Deal for Assange we could on that basis.
posted by jamjam at 7:57 PM on April 18




I'd like to take this opportunity to label his supporters Assangels.
posted by srboisvert at 6:10 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]


Too positive. Asstagonists. The only downside there is that these sorts of shit-stirrer accelerationists will probably like it.
posted by phearlez at 8:53 AM on April 22


Assangeholes
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:46 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


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