Julian Assange Reaches Plea Deal With US, Allowing Him To Go Free
June 24, 2024 5:37 PM   Subscribe

 
And the two women he raped don't get to see justice.

(And yes, continuing sexual intercourse when the other party withdraws consent is rape.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:51 PM on June 24 [37 favorites]


I remember a time where the consensus here on MF was that Assange, Snowden, and Greenwald were the good guys fighting the good fight. Now we know that one is a sex threat and at least two of them are at the very least Putin's catspaws if not actively working with Russia.
posted by thecjm at 5:55 PM on June 24 [18 favorites]


it kind of sucks that uncomplicated good guys mostly exist only in fiction, and also Fred Rogers
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:10 PM on June 24 [42 favorites]


And the two women he raped don't get to see justice.

Those charges were in Sweden, not the US. It was Assange’s skipping the country to avoid the sexual assault charges that made him vulnerable to extradition to the US on the charges related to his work with WikiLeaks. Settling the US charges wouldn’t have any bearing on the Swedish charges. Unfortunately, however, the sexual assault charges had previously been dropped by Sweden:
But in 2019, Ecuador's government evicted Assange, and British police arrested him on the embassy steps. Although by then, Swedish prosecutors had dropped the sexual assault case, a U.K. court convicted Assange of breaching his bail conditions and sentenced him to 50 weeks in prison. Despite long since serving that sentence, he has remained held in Belmarsh ever since.
posted by eviemath at 6:16 PM on June 24 [12 favorites]


And the two women he raped don’t get to see justice.
posted by edd at 6:18 PM on June 24 [14 favorites]


I wonder if his Substack has already been set up.
posted by credulous at 6:29 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]


Those charges were in Sweden, not the US.

And they were dropped due to a combination of the Swedish statute of limitations and the fact that he and his lawyers managed to delay the prosecution by over a decade.

As far as I'm considered the extreme foot-dragging was tantamount to admitting guilt.

So this deal is nice and all, but perhaps a more important fact about Assange is that he raped two women and they will never see justice.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:38 PM on June 24 [21 favorites]


The NSA Wants Carte Blanc for Warrantless Surveillance.
April, 2024.
"Standing at the thick, eavesdropper-proof windows of his office suite on the eighth floor of OPS 2B, newly appointed NSA director Timothy Haugh, an Air Force general, has a commanding view of his hidden empire. The size of a small city, it is the largest, most secret, most powerful, and most intrusive spy organization ever created. And last Friday, General Haugh was likely smiling very broadly as he looked out on his secret world."
posted by clavdivs at 7:07 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]


Now we know that one is a sex threat and at least two of them are at the very least Putin's catspaws if not actively working with Russia.

Assange is not a “sex threat” he is a rapist. Greenwald is a fascist and a stooge of Putin if not outright agent.

Snowden is an egotistical punk who successfully unveiled a multi-decade international conspiracy by several western intelligence agencies - first and foremost among them the United States - against their own citizens. He fled because when you inflict multi-trillion-dollar injuries on the state’s intelligence apparatus rule of law becomes an idiot’s idea of a joke. You run or you die slow and horrible as an example to the other bright young things. You probably die horrible regardless.

The fact that he is in Moscow at all is because the State Department under John Kerry revoked his visa while he was in the middle of fleeing. Having been trapped ever since then he has collaborated with Putin’s government to what is very likely the absolute minimum necessary to avoid being slowly tortured to death in a CIA or FSB or MI6 or Mossad black site.

One of these three people is not like the others. What makes us, within the Left in general and here on Metafilter in particular, objectively better than those who hate us is our commitment to the truth even when it’s annoying and to nuance even when it ruins an easy, comfortable narrative. We definitionally overthink things in pursuit of truth. Fuck all attempts to elide the truth for simplicity’s sake, especially when doing so serves the interests of the shit-befucked hierarchical power structures we are slowly being cut into pieces by.

We are better than them. We must be. So fucking act like it and resume fighting back against counterfactual narratives that serve the agenda of state oppression.

Or oppression and hierarchical power in general, see also: Julian Assange is not a “sex threat,” he is a rapist.
posted by Ryvar at 7:12 PM on June 24 [84 favorites]


Assange is a rapist scumbag.

He is also being prosecuted in the US for publishing factual information and "treason" against a state he is not a citizen of and committed no crime within the borders of.

Assange is a wretched person on many fronts, but the US is persecuting him for one of the few good things he did.

His work with Manning was genuinely good journalism and neither of them should have been charged for it. (And neither should Snowden have been.)
posted by The Manwich Horror at 7:21 PM on June 24 [37 favorites]


it kind of sucks that uncomplicated good guys mostly exist only in fiction

Somehow both Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner managed to not sexually assault anyone, run into the arms of Putin, or try to throw an election in favor of a fascist. Somehow.
posted by gwint at 7:25 PM on June 24 [76 favorites]


I think they both went to federal prison instead right? And yeah Snowden wasn't trying to go to Russia, that's where the State Department wanted him to stay.

Assange is gross and I hope he goes away and never troubles anyone ever again if he's not going to pay for his crimes against women.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 8:06 PM on June 24 [9 favorites]


Moral progress is annoying.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:15 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]


Snowden is a traitor. Snowden took an oath to not reveal secrets. He didn't take an oath not to reveal secrets unless he, the moral arbiter of all the earth, felt the world was entitled to know what he'd found out. Some things are bigger than one person's conscience, or one person's ego.

Assange is just...yuck.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:29 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]


You run or you die slow and horrible as an example to the other bright young things. You probably die horrible regardless.

Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner, among others, are alive and now free. If Snowden had stayed he would have been imprisoned and probably become the subject of the same sort of legal and activist attention that his compatriots did. I don’t mean to make light of how awful years of imprisonment waiting for commutation or legal machinations to free you can be - and was, for other whistleblowers. But no one was going to torture-murder Snowden.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:48 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]


Snowden first took an oath to uphold the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic - a constitution which guarantees freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

He fulfilled that oath.

The people who made it so he had to choose which oath he was gonna fulfill, those are the real traitors to America and her people.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:49 PM on June 24 [42 favorites]


Snowden is a traitor. Snowden took an oath to not reveal secrets.

I am thankful Snowfen didn't allow arbitrary loyalty to the government or the idea of an "oath" convince him to help maintain the security state's cover up. He did the right thing.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 8:50 PM on June 24 [57 favorites]


He also did the right thing in running, sucks that he got trapped in Russia for Putin to use.

I will always remember the Bolivian president's jet being forced down (an incredible violation!) due to suspicion he was aboard. The CIA hacked the Senate oversight investigation the next year, iirc, and god knows what else they've done and not been caught for.

He tried and he doesn't owe anyone else anything else.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:56 PM on June 24 [22 favorites]


The thing is, it wasn't really up to him to decide whether revealing secrets was the right thing. It wasn't his call. If he didn't like keeping those secrets, learning what he learned, he could have and should have quit, become an activist. Just because he apparently had the right politics (presuming he wasn't just working for Russia from the start) doesn't make what he did okay. If everybody who was privy to state secrets decided they had the authority to divulge them, it would be a problem.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:29 PM on June 24 [4 favorites]


The thing is, it wasn't really up to him to decide whether revealing secrets was the right thing. It wasn't his call. If he didn't like keeping those secrets, learning what he learned, he could have and should have quit, become an activist.

I understand that is the legal position of the US military and intelligence agencies. I just don't see why anyone else should care.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 9:42 PM on June 24 [41 favorites]


Wait, did Snowden not quit? Is he still on the payroll? Someone should get on that.

Or right, and here's the head of the NSA, a few months before Snowden' leak, directly and publicly lying to the head of the Senate intelligence committee about the NSA's activities:
https://youtu.be/QwiUVUJmGjs?t=397

Again, a useless spook fuck, taking hundreds of billions of dollars of our taxes, massively violating the Constitution and our legal system, and then thumbing his nose at the absolute highest civilian oversight of his activities. The idea that people are mad at Snowden of all people is always baffling to me.
posted by Balna Watya at 9:45 PM on June 24 [42 favorites]


Reading the comments on whether or not Julian Assange is problematic or not is missing the point: your rights to equal protection under the law doesn't depend on whether or not you are a good person.

The alternative system is the tool of fascists, who I bet will have a very different definition of "good" and worthy of the protection of the state.

Whether or not Assange deserves jail shouldn't depend on whether or not he has been accused of rape or is a Putin stooge. It should depend on if he's been convicted of a crime following due process of law. Our western democracies demand this.

Anyone who laments the consequence that an accused rapist will be set free, to my ears that rings like a compaint that our system is flawed because detestable people get its protection. I.e., if Assange is a rapist, you actually prefer that he sits in jail on unrelated charges. This is an illiberal opinion and if you really do believe it, then you are more similar to the Christofascists than you might think.
posted by cotterpin at 9:46 PM on June 24 [44 favorites]


It's not even a wiki.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:57 PM on June 24 [15 favorites]


I understand that is the legal position of the US military and intelligence agencies. I just don't see why anyone else should care.

That's the job. He chose to do it wrong. If you're like, "The job is invalid!," okay. But he still agreed to the terms. They're not ambiguous.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:03 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]


Anyone who laments the consequence that an accused rapist will be set free, to my ears that rings like a compaint that our system is flawed because detestable people get its protection. I.e., if Assange is a rapist, you actually prefer that he sits in jail on unrelated charges. This is an illiberal opinion and if you really do believe it, then you are more similar to the Christofascists than you might think.

While I think Assange going free is ultimately a good thing, I don't have a hard time understanding why people aren't jazzed about it.

Guilt or innocence play very little role in whether someone is incarcerated or not. The system has no integrity to maintain. This isn't wanting the rules to bend to punish a bad guy. It is a recognition that the rules are mostly meaningless in practice.

Assange isn't being let loose because the injustice of his charges were determined by the legal system. Everyone agrees on the facts of what he did, and the government still claims the right to punish him. But they've apparently decided he is not worth the trouble. Meanwhile, prosecutors continue to fight to keep innocent people in prison and keep exculpatory evidence out of court.

I am a prison abolitionist and I think the US charges against Assange are ridiculous, but you don't have to be a fascist to be less than thrilled he is walking.


That's the job. He chose to do it wrong. If you're like, "The job is invalid!," okay. But he still agreed to the terms. They're not ambiguous.

I just don't see any reason to care what agreements he made with the US government or the NSA. They are malignant institutions and defecting from them the correct choice. It's like wanting to punish people for deserting from the Wehrmacht during WWII. Whatever the supposed legal obligations, or oaths, or duties are, the only moral choice is to reject them as soon as possible,
posted by The Manwich Horror at 10:07 PM on June 24 [22 favorites]


That's the job. He chose to do it wrong. If you're like, "The job is invalid!," okay. But he still agreed to the terms. They're not ambiguous.

So to be clear, your position is that whistle-blowing is immoral?
posted by Carillon at 10:21 PM on June 24 [43 favorites]


It's appalling that Assange will never face court on the rape allegations. It's also appalling that he has been held for so long over bullshit charges that amount to embarrassing the US government. It's a good thing he now has a way out of that, albeit with a US criminal record that he morally doesn't deserve, although the technicality is that he committed serious crimes. These things can co-exist, as unattractive as that might be.
posted by dg at 10:52 PM on June 24 [19 favorites]




Mod note: One removed. If you actually believe that the site has suffered an incursion of bots or propagandists (we haven't, and it would be immediately obvious if anything remotely like this occurred), please contact mods. If you don't actually believe it, please don't accuse people as a rhetorical tactic.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:20 PM on June 24 [26 favorites]


it kind of sucks that uncomplicated good guys mostly exist only in fiction

Somehow both Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner managed to not sexually assault anyone, run into the arms of Putin, or try to throw an election in favor of a fascist. Somehow.


To be fair, Manning did kinda go hang out and pal around with a bunch of nazis (or sorry, "alt right" as they were known at the time) for a while after she was released, so it's not a million miles from Russian fascists.

Reality Winner is at least neither a nazi nor a fascist (though you could take issue with serving with the drone murder group, identifying targets in the first place).
posted by Dysk at 1:41 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


This thread got off on quite the derail. The reason the US was prosecuting Assange had absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault (or Edward Snowden, or Putin, for that matter). The US was charging him under the Espionage Act because they were mad at him for his acts of journalism. Journalism which, of course, exposed the enormity of US crimes of the global war on terror and eventually led to the inability of the US to maintain their military presence in Iraq.

Dragging him through this kangaroo court process (with the willing connivance of the UK) was always intended to be a means for punishing him for his defiance of US foreign policy and a way of intimidating people who might think of doing similar things. Anyone who values journalism, freedom of the press, or opposition to US imperialism should be celebrating his release (modulo the fact that it unfolded in the procedurally unsatisfying form of a guilty plea).
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 2:44 AM on June 25 [34 favorites]


Some things are bigger than one person's conscience, or one person's ego.

Like war crimes?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:05 AM on June 25 [23 favorites]


Anyone who values journalism, freedom of the press, or opposition to US imperialism should be celebrating his release (modulo the fact that it unfolded in the procedurally unsatisfying form of a guilty plea).

I don't know if it's much of a victory. He's pleading guilty. To a crime in a jurisdiction of which he was not a citizen, which he was not in when the events occurred. He didn't steal the data - Manning did that. He didn't publish the data - various journalists did that. It's preposterous.

There's no victory here. Both sides just gave up. But ultimately the US gets to claim that their espionage laws apply worldwide, to everyone - which is an insane position.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:14 AM on June 25 [10 favorites]


lol people think booz Allen Hamilton employees take oaths?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:04 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


See also: this excellent long form article about Assange published by Andrew O'Hagan in the london review of books in 2014. Assange entered into a deal with a publisher for an autobiography, ghostwritten by O'Hagan. Quite the read. (old mefi thread)
posted by are-coral-made at 4:37 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


So to be clear, your position is that whistle-blowing is immoral?

Not generally. I will address this quickly and move on, because I think it's important but I don't want to further derail the thread. Whistle-blowing is often needed, and retaliation against whistle-blowers is wrong. In this particular circumstance, though, when a person is granted access to classified information, their personal convictions vis a vis that information must not be superseded by the agreement they have made to keep such information secret. People's lives could be at stake. That is the agreement that Snowden very explicitly and knowingly entered into.

Lol, Booz Allen employees do take oaths, or at least they do when they have top secret clearances the way Edward Snowden did. That clearance wasn't granted by Booz Allen, it was granted by the US government. That's how it works. Regardless of what box of money Snowden was getting paid out of, he was doing government work. To do that work, you have to agree to keep the secret information you learn a secret. That's why it's called secret. It's not called Secret, Unless or Secret, But or Secret Until You Decide You Know Better.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:38 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Didn't everyone running that show also take an oath, which includes the inconvenient bits like 4A and civilian oversight?

Oaths to lawless powers are meaningless.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:55 AM on June 25 [14 favorites]


So what happens if the government mark evidence of outright corruption "secret"? Is it literally just a cheat code for getting away with anything?
posted by Dysk at 4:55 AM on June 25 [19 favorites]


imo, the Edward Snowden derail is just that: a relitigation of the circumstances surrounding actions taken by a guy who this thread is not about

and I think you can simultaneously hate abusive government actions taken against Assange and go "fuck that guy," because that's how fair legal systems work: people deserve to be treated fairly even if fuck those guys

(the flip side is that I feel no performative need to exonerate Assange past not wanting him to be maliciously targeted by our government. the way the US government has targeted him is fucked-up and bad. also, though, fuck that guy)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 5:05 AM on June 25 [8 favorites]


I for one am relieved that Biden is the one whose justice department made the deal. It makes Assange's use as a rhetorical device against the US a little more complicated.
posted by mittens at 5:14 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I think it's worth noting that Assange wasn't extradited to Sweden to face his charges there because of the US government's pursuit of him.
posted by Dysk at 5:27 AM on June 25 [15 favorites]


As a teenager, the swift villification of people who revealed the violations of civil liberties on a scale not previously known, with absolutely no repercussions for anyone actually in power taught me just how apathetic and unprincipled so many self identified liberals really are. Like I never thought "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" would be so quickly integrated as a normal thing to believe in the Freest Nation in Earth.
posted by jy4m at 5:35 AM on June 25 [24 favorites]


I would like to never hear about the self aggrandizing *ss that is Julian Assange ever again now, thanks.
posted by teece303 at 6:14 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


So what happens if the government mark evidence of outright corruption "secret"? Is it literally just a cheat code for getting away with anything?

IDK about the French or even the Dutch Commonwealth but wa-hey, that's absolutely the norm for the British Commonwealth countries with their local variants of the Official Secrets Act.
posted by cendawanita at 6:23 AM on June 25 [8 favorites]


Laura Poitras' documentaries citizenfour (Snowden) and Risk (Assange) are superb.

citzenfour is one of my favourite documentaries. You do have to put up with Glen Greenwald, but it's totally worth it, and seeing him in the early stages of his decent into madness is interesting in its own right. It's really about Snowden, not the stuff he revealed, but Poitras shows what she needs to to put his actions into context.

Risk is a lot harder to watch, largely because it's about Assange, and Poitras makes it clear that it wasn't easy to make. It's still worth watching though.
posted by swr at 6:23 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


The thing is, it wasn't really up to him to decide whether revealing secrets was the right thing.

And it’s really not students’ decision whether to set up an encampment in the middle of a university quad or not. Yet there are times when civil disobedience is a duty.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:21 AM on June 25 [12 favorites]


i have spoken to some lions of journalism (john prager for example) about assange's sexual assault charges and they all reply with something like "the prosecutor dropped those charges for lack of evidence" and so forth like and it's ... i mean these are folks who pride themselves in speaking truth to power, to never take any state actor at their word and always dig deeper. except when it comes to assange's sexual assault charges apparently.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:26 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


This thread got off on quite the derail.

It is no more a derail to state that Assange is a rapist than it is to state that Trump is a convicted felon. Any conversation that doesn’t mention it is missing important context about the person.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:28 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


The thing is, it wasn't really up to him to decide whether revealing secrets was the right thing. It wasn't his call. If he didn't like keeping those secrets, learning what he learned, he could have and should have quit, become an activist. Just because he apparently had the right politics (presuming he wasn't just working for Russia from the start) doesn't make what he did okay. If everybody who was privy to state secrets decided they had the authority to divulge them, it would be a problem.

Yeah, it fucking was his call. If something is within your power, it is obviously your call to make. We have zero obligation to uphold state fucking secrets. If states cant operate without secrets, fuck the state. Tear it the fuck down. Governments operating in shadows isn't okay or worth defending.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:59 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


"the prosecutor dropped those charges for lack of evidence"

I don't doubt that this is what people say, but it isn't quite right.

"As of 19 November 2019 the prosecution dropped the case because "the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed" although they were confident in the complainant." [Wikipedia]
posted by Dysk at 8:12 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


I don't doubt that this is what people say, but it isn't quite right.

you're right, it isn't. that's what i mean! these men (always, somehow, men) whose entire brand is "the truth above all else, no matter who it hurts" engage in the most dishonest cherrypicking and distortion of the facts when it comes to their very special boy
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:17 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


I think there are fundamental differences between Snowden and Assange. As I understand it, Snowden tried numerous times to go through official US government channels to voice his concerns. When he received no meaningful response, he made his disclosures to a third party —journalists— who had an ethical framework to release the information as safely as possible and within context. By contrast, Assange released everything into the world with no regard for the safety of the people mentioned in the documents.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:22 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


Interesting trivia: Assange is pleading guilty in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands. The Northern Marianas are one of the more obscure US jurisdictions. It's a group of 14 small Pacific islands. Geographically it includes Guam, which most Americans have at least heard of, but Guam is its own separate jurisdiction.

There's about 47,000 people living in the CNMI. The biggest place is Saipan, where the airport and the court are.

The first people living there came in about 1500 BCE, Austronesians who came from the Philippines. The usual term for the indigenous people there are Chamorros. Spain colonized it in the 16th century, the US took it from Japan in World War 2.

Since 1976 CNMI has been an unincorporated commonwealth, similar to Puerto Rico. Under US rule they don't have any representation in Congress other than a non-voting delegate. The first and current delegate is Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan. They also have different judicial status: the US constitution does not fully apply. On the bright side, no federal income taxes.

Reportedly Assange chose this court as a way to plead guilty under US law without getting to close to the mainland United States. It's a stop on the way from Thailand to Australia.

Maybe this should be it's own Metafilter post but I really don't know enough about the CNMI to give it the right flavor. I'm just linking Wikipedia stuff here. Anyone here know more?
posted by Nelson at 8:30 AM on June 25 [8 favorites]


If I were someone who was concerned about being extradited from Sweden during the time where we found out about the blackbag renditions and torture sites I would 1000% not chose a site where the full constitution isn't applicable.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:41 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I doubt Assange has much faith in the protection of the US Constitution. Also, I didn't mean to imply there are no civil rights in the CNMI. Most US law applies and the Commonwealth has its own Constitution.
posted by Nelson at 9:30 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


It always comes with a twist when the the US is involved.
Stella Assange has just posted:
Julian’s travel to freedom comes at a massive cost: Julian will owe USD 520,000 which he is obligated to pay back to the Australian government for charter Flight VJ199. He was not permitted to fly commercial airlines or routes to Saipan and onward to Australia.

5 years solitary then Free if you can afford it.
posted by adamvasco at 10:50 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


Julian will owe USD 520,000 which he is obligated to pay back to the Australian government for charter Flight VJ199.

Non-issue. This will be crowdsourced in minutes.
posted by senor biggles at 11:24 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


"the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed"

Surely that must be lawspeak for: Across all of the prosecution's devices we can't find a single CD drive anymore.
posted by Ashenmote at 12:41 PM on June 25


If I were someone who was concerned about being extradited from Sweden during the time where we found out about the blackbag renditions and torture sites I would 1000% not chose a site where the full constitution isn't applicable.
I expect his thinking is that it's people defending the US Constitution that got him into this mess in the first place. While the US Government would have no hesitation in swooping down and arresting him on more trumped-up charges no matter where he was, I think he's absolutely right in not wanting to set foot on 'true' US soil because that's exactly what would happen if he did.
posted by dg at 1:15 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


fundamental differences between Snowden and Assange.

That is an understatement. One was a whistleblower, the other was a publisher. It's worth mentioning that Metafilter and others continue to get basic details of the case wrong. For example, perpetuating the myth that Wikikeaks released the cables without redaction.

https://assangedefense.org/hearing-coverage/wikileaks-redaction-process-and-the-unredacted-cables/

This is why Wikikeaks is seen as such a massive threat. The idea of a media agency willing to reveal raw data that undermines the manipulated narrative designed by the respective inteligence agencies of our governments undermines their ability to manipulate their public. Its not just "the Russians" manipulating public opinion, its all of "them" and our own too.
posted by bigZLiLk at 11:50 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]




Whistle-blowing is often needed, and retaliation against whistle-blowers is wrong. In this particular circumstance, though, when a person is granted access to classified information, their personal convictions vis a vis that information must not be superseded by the agreement they have made to keep such information secret. People's lives could be at stake.

You are arguing for absolute, unchecked power given that the government has a long history of over classifying documents for reasons other than people's lives being at stake. From the Pentagon Papers, to the FBI's domestic terror campaign against MLK and other African-American leadership to subvert their human rights movements, to numerous other examples - it is fantasy to believe that the judicial system, in real-time, can and does stop criminal activity happening under the cloak of classification by any means other than people violating classification rules.

Like the idea that your employer can have you sign a document that compels you to aid and abet criminal activity from that point on is absurd. We are seeing fascism rise everywhere and it blows my mind that anyone could see "if you don't like it then quit" as an effective solution against tyranny.
posted by openhearted at 4:59 AM on June 26 [14 favorites]


Here's the live blog from the ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-26/julian-assange-saipan-court-appearance/104022050

Interesting about the American journalists currently detained in Russia (direct link here)
posted by freethefeet at 5:00 AM on June 26


So yet another disgraceful and sordid piece of US and UK miscarriage of justice and revenge comes hopefully to an end. Gabriel Shipman, Julian's brother, thanked a global coalition (Portuguese because you probably won't find it in English media) that included the Pope, President Lula of Brazil and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
posted by adamvasco at 6:04 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


It's worth mentioning that Metafilter and others continue to get basic details of the case wrong. For example, perpetuating the myth that Wikikeaks released the cables without redaction.

There is conflicting information on what Assange's and Wikikeaks' policies and views regarding redactions were overall:
Julian gave several answers to the question of how the leaked material should be ‘redacted’. Sometimes he appeared to suggest that editing it was wrong, but he admitted to me that they wanted to ‘improve when it came to having a better focus on redactions’. He denied ever saying, as reported by others, that informants’ names should not be taken out and that ‘they deserved to die.’ He would go over these positions again and again, but the interviews I conducted contain many inconsistencies. And horrible longueurs.

Andrew O'Hagan. "Ghosting." London Review of Books, vol. 36, no. 5, 6 Mar. 2014. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v36/n05/andrew-o-hagan/ghosting

Asked why WikiLeaks did not review all of the Afghan war logs before releasing them last month to make sure that no Afghan informants or other innocent people were identified, [Daniel] Schmitt [a WikiLeaks spokesman in Germany] said that the volume of the material made it impossible: “I just can’t imagine that someone could go through 76,000 documents,” he said. “That is quite a large amount of documents.” He said the site had no information in advance of the release to suggest that informants were being named.

Philip Shenon. "WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Wants Pentagon to Help." The Daily Beast, 3 Aug. 2010, updated 14 Jul. 2017. https://www.thedailybeast.com/wikileaks-julian-assange-wants-pentagon-to-help

At first, the information from WikiLeaks was published in careful collaboration with The Guardian, New York Times, Der Spiegel, El País and Le Monde newspapers, redacted to protect the identities of sources and personnel involved. But later — after Assange had fallen out with some of the newspapers he had worked with, and a German hacker had accessed the files — WikiLeaks released the raw documents en masse, along with more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

William Wallis. "WikiLeaks gadfly: the Julian Assange saga." Financial Times, 26 June 2024. https://www.ft.com/content/67bdf84e-492d-4b63-98b5-2ef84e9158f9

posted by Omon Ra at 10:26 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


reveal raw data that undermines the manipulated narrative

There is nothing more "raw" about WikiLeaks publications than about anyone else's publications. They make editorial choices about what to publish and what not to publish all the time.

For instance: "In the summer of 2016, as WikiLeaks was publishing documents from Democratic operatives allegedly obtained by Kremlin-directed hackers, Julian Assange turned down a large cache of documents related to the Russian government, according to chat messages and a source who provided the records.

WikiLeaks declined to publish a wide-ranging trove of documents — at least 68 gigabytes of data — that came from inside the Russian Interior Ministry, according to partial chat logs reviewed by Foreign Policy. "
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:17 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


>>Julian will owe USD 520,000 which he is obligated to pay back to the Australian government for charter Flight VJ199.

>Non-issue. This will be crowdsourced in minutes.


Already done. Apparently a single anonymous donor stepped up to the plate.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:48 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Rumour mill says it was Jack Dorsey
posted by adamvasco at 6:54 PM on June 26


>>Julian will owe USD 520,000 which he is obligated to pay back to the Australian government for charter Flight VJ199.

This was a ridiculous thing to do. Struggling to understand why the Australian government would make this choice.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:07 PM on June 26


Well, for starters, the cost of a private jet flown from London to Sydney starts around $200,000 USD. I imagine there were other security considerations as well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:31 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Some of the comments on this post are remarkable. They assume Assange's guilt of sex crimes with no proof. He wasn't even *charged* with anything. He was sought for extradition for mere questioning. This is outrageous. For shame. Don't get me wrong: he could have committed such crimes. I just don't know. But to state it as fact is dishonest to all involved.
posted by hankmajor at 11:27 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


yeah well having heard what the women involved have had to say i'm inclined to believe them and this thread isn't a court of law
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:34 AM on June 27 [8 favorites]


He wasn't even *charged* with anything.

Because he ran away:

"Assange left Sweden for UK and prosecutors informed his Swedish lawyer Björn Hurtig that an arrest warrant would be issued for Assange[...] Assange was arrested in his absence the same day. This was the first step in the criminal prosecution procedure in Sweden, and only after the questioning would the prosecution authority be able to formally indict him." [wiki] (emphasis mine)
posted by Dysk at 11:58 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Just a gentle nudge to see if we can avoid derailing the conversation with Assange's guilt or innocence. That's something we can't determine here.
posted by loup (staff) at 3:04 PM on June 27


I don't see how Julian Assange's rape and sexual assault is off-topic frankly, and the repeated factually inaccurate attempts to dismiss and minimise it are disturbing.
posted by Dysk at 9:13 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


I don't want it minimised. I want the USA held responsible for ensuring justice was never brought to bear.
posted by Audreynachrome at 5:09 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Eh. I think there is more than enough to criticize from the US charges against Assange, but the decision to flee Sweden and the sexual assault charges there seems to have been his alone, and therefore his own responsibility. I thinks that’s the one detail in this shitshow that you can’t really blame the US for. (Sexual assault seems to be handled quite poorly in most states in the US, and had anyone in the US come forward with the same situations as the women in Sweden, I highly doubt they would have seen any justice. This is not in any way an endorsement of the way sexual assault is handled legally within the US. Just a recognition that in this one specific case, the perpetrator fleeing the country where he was charged with sexual assault is the main reason why justice wasn’t able to be enacted in this specific case.)
posted by eviemath at 3:09 PM on June 29




well julian, was it worth it.
posted by clavdivs at 4:36 PM on June 29


well julian, was it worth it.

I'm sure it made his life worse, but morally it was absolutely the right thing to do.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 5:28 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


It's largely derails here so far, and not much substance, like one expects from a US centric stite. Naomi Klein has long ago covered what needs saying in mefi discussion of Assange. At least mefi is better than US twitter where some of the anti-Assange crowd claims his wife Stella does not exist. lol

In Saipan..

Chief US District Judge Ramona Manglona said:

"There’s another significant fact – the government has indicated there is no personal victim here."

"That tells me I can surmise that the dissemination of information that occurred in this instance did not result in any known physical injury"


As noted by the judge, Asange's birthay is Wednesday, so outside the US one can find parties. :)

At this moment..

Assange's flight crowd funder has raised £478’598 from 10’328 supporters, with seemingly the majority paying the recommended £40, but many paying less, and a fair number in the hundreds. It's still £41’402 short, but likely finishes up fully funded, assuming this stays in the news.

I've no idea who recieved this large BTC donation, maybe wikileaks itself, but it's wonderful if some BTC millionaire funds whatever Assange does next.

I suppose this large BTC donation prompted some tweet by Matt Green (Johns Hopkins) about the obvious ease of tracking BTC, which promoted some debate between Ian Miers (UMD, ZCash, etc) and crypto-colonialist Alex Gladstein. Gladstein wants people to beleive BTC is anonymous. lol

Almsot zero point speculating upon the BTC though, because someone shall figure out the real source eventually, and then everyone who speculated wrongly looks silly. You're just making BTC look anonymous really. lol

As for why the plea happened now..

Assange's legal team recently won the right to raise the First Amendment in the extradition hearing, which immediately restarted plea discussions.

At times, the US DoJ has claimed that Assange has no First Amendment protections, not being an American citizen. As I understand it, if they'd said this in the extradition hearing, then they have admitted to the US legal system being biased against non-citizens, which could've cost them the extradition.

Assange is now free because Biden's DoJ wanted to avoid the First Amendment being raised in British court.

As further speculation..

It's imho likely the UD DoJ foresaw some wider legal minfield here too, like the British judge exploring the fact that Assange was acting as a journalist, and how the DoJ interpretation of the Espionage Act violates the First Amendment, aka the "NYT problem". It'd really suck for them if they lost an extradition with one fo the nations who most eagerly hands people over to the US justice intimidation system. It'd suck worse for them if they got Assange but could no longer argue against him having journalistic protections, meaning they must argue the Espionage Act trumps journalism full stop. lol

It's also claimed that Biden's DoJ disliked the Assange prosecution, for precisely the "NYT problem" reasons why Obama's DoJ never prosecuted Assange. Trump's DoJ prosecuted Assange and dumped this trud upon them, because Trump's DoJ never cared about US press freedom, or more they wanted to act against leaks, while ignoring their own leaks. As wild conjecture, Assange's case could land on another Trump DoJ next year, so you'd wonder if Biden's DoJ would dislike Trump's SCOTUS hearing Assange's First Amendment appeal v Trump DoJ.

Assange's wife has been thanking many people for provoding their support, including many Australian law makers, and the Pope. It's likely some of that corresponds to real lobbying effort, and of that maybe some carried influence.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:46 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]




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