WikiLeaks

Assange Not Out on Bail; Wikiprosecutions Threat to Free Press

|

Despite earlier reports, the Swedes are refusing to let Julian Assange be released on bail. Some details from the UK Guardian:

The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is to remain in jail after the Swedish authorities decided to challenge a decision by a British court to grant him bail on allegations of rape in Stockholm….

Sweden's decision means that the next legal arguments will be heard at the court of appeal. No time has yet been fixed….

Appearing for the Swedish authorities, Gemma Lindfield argued that Assange should be declined bail as the charges were serious and there was a real possibility he would leave the country.

"This is not a case about WikiLeaks, rather a case about alleged serious offences against two women," she said.

She said the allegations were serious and Assange had only weak ties to Britain and "the means and ability to abscond".

Of course, of course, this prosecution is all about sexcrime, not leakcrime. But Glenn Greenwald talks of possible Obama administration legal attacks on WikiLeaks and explains why they are dangerous:

if current reports are correct—that the Obama DOJ has now convened a Grand Jury to indict WikiLeaks and Julian Assange—this will constitute a far greater assault on press freedom than anything George W. Bush managed, or even attempted.  Put simply, there is no intellectually coherent way to distinguish what WikiLeaks has done with these diplomatic cables with what newspapers around the world did in this case and what they do constantly:  namely, receive and then publish classified information without authorization.  And as much justifiable outrage as the Bush DOJ's prosecution of the AIPAC officials provoked, at least the actions there resembled "espionage" far more than anything Assange has done, as those AIPAC officials actually passed U.S. secrets to a foreign government, not published them as WikiLeaks has done.

To criminalize what WikiLeaks is doing is, by definition, to criminalize the defining attribute of investigative journalism.  That, to be sure, is a feature, not a bug, of the Obama administration's efforts.  Just two days ago, The New York Times' James Risen wrote a story disclosing substantial classified information about the CIA, the DEA and Afghanistan, revealing that a high-level Afghan drug trafficker being prosecuted by the U.S. was long on the payroll of the U.S.; should he be tried for espionage? 

NEXT: Two More Ways in Which the Federal Health Insurance Mandate Is Not Like State Car Insurance Mandates

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. More fierce moral urgency from the Administration.

    I think I may have finally found a silver lining for this crowd: They seem determined to create some Supreme Court precedent reaffirming various limits on government.

    1. I certainly hope so. I’m just afraid that the unpopular case will lead to bad law. The Pentagon Papers didn’t say that people could publish anything; not even any justice in the majority said that. They just all said that there was a complex multi-part test that the Pentagon Papers didn’t rise to.

      I certainly think that Assange shouldn’t be prosecuted. Considering that judges and justices do rule on particular facts instead of principle, I’m still worried.

  2. I have to admit:

    It actually does make sense for the state to claim he’ll abscond.

    If they were passing around a collection plate to raise funds to sneak this guy out of Britain on a rowboat Children of Men style, I would totally give money to that.

    Actually, if he wants to come hide at my house, he’s welcome.

    If there was a Wikileaks Underground Railroad, where would it lead? Where’s the best place to hide this guy?

    1. He should go to France. They won’t extradite anyone.

    2. You gotta be fucking joking me. Underground Railroad? Yeah, because jailing a douchebag, for sex crimes, is exactly the same as enslaving someone and treating them as subhuman.

      What a fucking joke. I can always count on some sort of ludicrous moral equivalence whenever I visit this site.

      1. So you support the idea that not using a condom should be a crime?

      2. Counting on ludicrous moral equivalence is no better than not doing the tongue alphabet in Those Circumstances.

        You know what circumstances Those are.

        oh, yes, you do.

      3. Who said that we were dealing with a situation equivalent to slavery?

        For the metaphor to be appropriate, all that is necessary is for a private network to exist where people sought by the law are spirited away from their pursuers by people opposed to that law.

        We could very, VERY easily talk about having an “Underground Railroad” to spirit away pot smokers, too – but doing so would not in any way, shape or form be saying that getting arrested for pot possession is the same as being a chattel slave.

        Dumbass.

  3. Looks like silencing Assange is something both TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE can get behind.

    1. Bipartisenship…when you know somethings REALLY wrong!

    2. Team Anarchist is neutral?

      1. Team… Anarchist? Does Not Compute.

        1. Anarchists like to pretend that they are apolitical and independent. Their bogeyman is the state. They are indeed a team, the Detroit Lions of politics. Nobody wants them, nobody takes them seriously, nobody cares about their crackpot notions of pie-in-the-sky self government, so they gather on “libertarian” blogs and make noise and find comfort with one another and claim, comically, to be on nobody’s team. They’re the lowest of collectivists.

        2. Anarchists pretend to be apolitical and independent, but they are a team, albeit a team nobody takes seriously, nobody wants, nobody cares about. They’re the Detroit Lions of politics. Even the left doesn’t want them. Their common enemy is “the state.” Objective law frustrates them. They have a persecution complex. They gather on “libertarian” blogs and find comfort with one another by sharing their crackpot notions of pie-in-the-sky “self” government. But their government is an unthinking mob. Anarchists are indeed a team; a tribalist team, the lowest of the collectivists.

  4. Guys, I’m pretty sure Assange is being held by the UK, not Sweden.

    1. We know

      1. Then maybe you might correct the line that says “the Swedes are refusing to let Assange be released on bail.” Seeing as it’s the Brits, and you know and all.

        1. That would also be misleading since the UK government was willing to release him on bail; it’s due to the intervention of the Swedish government that he is being held, even if Brits are doing the actual holding.

  5. Isn’t this case identical to The Pentagon Papers case? Why is this even being discussed?

    1. “”Why is this even being discussed?””

      Assange must be blamed or else national security will be harmed. We can not have the military or state department looking weak, it would weaken our national security as a whole. For national security purposes, Assange must stay in the spotlight.

      Come on, you know that’s what they are thinking over at the Pentagon.

    2. Ssame as the Pentagon Papers? I was unaware that the Swedes issued an arrest warrant for Daniel Ellsberg because of alledged sex crimes. You learn something new every day.

      1. “You learn something new every day.”

        well, let’s be generous for you: at least once every other month, or so.

      2. That was in reference to the Obama administration’s attempt to indict Assange on espionage charges, not the Swedish charges.

    3. Because the Pentagon Papers didn’t say that even newspapers could publish anything. It didn’t overrule the Espionage Act. Read about the case. Rather than drawing a bright line, the Supreme Court said that some things couldn’t be published, but that the Pentagon Papers didn’t rise to that nebulous standard.

      It’s the flip side of, e.g., the Kelo ruling, where Justice Kennedy said that some eminent domain actions could go to far, but that the one in particular didn’t.

      It’s true that in practice it has meant that newspapers could print anything. That’s exactly the same as how the practical effect of Kelo has been to let any eminent domain act stand.

      Particular set of facts can lead to precedents that are limited in theory but expansive in fact. The Pentagon Papers, by being so important that people agreed that they should be published, ending up setting an unusually permissive precedent, more than we would have had otherwise.

      Wikileaks could end up being Pentagon Papers in reverse, by being such an unfavorable set of facts that it could set a highly negative precedent.

      1. I don’t think anything released so far has been more “dangerous” than the Pentagon Papers were, but I think you are right there might be a line somewhere.

        1. That’s the thing– because what’s released has been so innocuous, a surprising number of people (CREW, apparently, according to Greenwald) have been relatively unconcerned about the threat of prosecution of Assange. (Also, because he’s not in the journalist club.)

          Whether the Pentagon Papers were dangerous or not, because they had such damning evidence of government lies, they had a lot more defenders.

          1. Even if they’re not as damning for the U.S. as the Pentagon Papers, they’re (to the extent you trust the opinion of U.S. diplomats) fairly damning of other countries. Since Assange isn’t an American to begin with, I’m not sure why suggesting that Venezuela seems to be going Nazi is any less important than shining a light on U.S. malfeasance.

            Granted, as much as it sucks for the people that live there, Venezuela starting up another Holocaust would pretty much destroy the credibility of a shitload of establishment lefties and provide us plenty of legitimate excuses for mocking dumbshit progs “Remember that time you were all about Hitler 2? What was up with that? Did you finally get you swastika tattoo removed?”

    4. No. Look it up. The original Pentagon Papers case was against the New York Times, not Daniel Ellsberg. The case against Ellsberg was dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct, and never completed, so it’s not a precedent.

      But thanks for playing.

      1. I’m not talking about procecuting the leaker; I’m talking about procecuting news organizations (such as Wikileaks/Assange in this case) for printing the leaks.

        I think it’s reasonable and legal to procecute the leaker himself.

  6. “And as much justifiable outrage as the Bush DOJ’s prosecution of the AIPAC officials provoked, at least the actions there resembled “espionage” far more than anything Assange has done, as those AIPAC officials actually passed U.S. secrets to a foreign government, not published them as WikiLeaks has done.”

    Uh huh, so because it leaked actual classified documents to *all* foreign governments rather than passed fake classified documents to a single foreign government, Wikileaks is better. Why should I take Glenn Greenwald seriously?

    It’s sadly ironic that Assange has been arrested for allegedly deceiving a couple of women into letting him bareback them – it seems that Reasonoids would line up for the privilege.

    1. Why should you take Greenwald seriously? Because he is a righteous dude he does great work. You can definitely trust him.

      1. I completely agree with Thomas Ellers. Greenwald is right in this case.

      2. No he is a scumbag lying sock puppeteer piece of shit who happens to be on the right side for once.

    2. If you’re only disclosing secrets to one party, you’re not acting as the press. That’s the difference.

      1. Oh, I see. So if somebody gave the D-Day plans to the Germans, it’d be a bad thing. But if the same guy gave it to all the newspapers in Europe, it’d be a leak, and laudable and there’d be no harm. Thanks for clearing that up.

    3. They also leaked them to the American people, who in theory are supposed to have some say in the actions of the American government.

      They also leaked them to the American government, which is somewhat relevant — espionage is much more effective when the victim doesn’t know they’ve been compromised, since they won’t relocate personnel, change security procedures, etc.

      In fact, as far as I know, WL shared the contents of some of its leaks with the U.S. government before going public with them, in part to seek guidance in redacting information (just like a real media institution!). The State department basically said “No, we won’t help you redact information. If you don’t want to jeopardize people’s lives, don’t leak anything.” Oops. I’m sure that our informants in Afghanistan appreciate the U.S.’s bitchy little game of chicken.

  7. Well this answers my question about this bullshit being serious enough for the Swedes to hold him in jail. I guess he was right to leave Sweden, although I am not sure it did him any good.

    If you want to take the little bastard Army specialist and his cross dressing boyfriend who leaked this and shoot them, I am with you. But, you can’t go after the guy who published them. What did Assage do? It is not like he paid the guy for the cables. All he did was provide a server for dipshit to publish them on. By that logic, if he had posted them on Hit and Run, the government should lock up the Jacket.

    I think Assange is a dirtbag. And initially thought he had committed a crime. But the more I think about it, the more I see there is no way you can consider what he did a crime.

    1. He embarrassed a lot of powerful people. You can’t commit a worse crime than that.

  8. “”If you want to take the little bastard Army specialist and his cross dressing boyfriend who leaked this and shoot them, I am with you. But, you can’t go after the guy who published them””

    Our government is trying very hard to not put the spotlight on it’s own failures with document security and that Army specialist. I’m mostly convinced that is what going after Assange is about. Focus heavy on Assange, make him the scapegoat, and keep the media spotlight off the Army and State dept for their failures.

    1. One of my best friends is the guy who busted the specialist. It wasn’t just him. It was a whole group of gay lovers at MIT who were a part of it to. But when they went to nail them, DOJ took over and told them to stop. They only wanted to get the Specialist. That I think is because the Army frying some nameless soldier will get less publicity than going after a bunch of brat top shelf college students.

      The government wants everyone to forget that they let some bored specialist download all this stuff.

      1. “”The government wants everyone to forget that they let some bored specialist download all this stuff.””

        Absolutely, and what better way than focusing on Assange.

      2. I’ve never heard of the MIT connection – do you have any links on that?

        1. No. I only have my connections who tell me so. Take it for what it is worth, which from your prospective probably isn’t much.

          1. Wow.

            So John– and yes, I realize you’re just an anonymous commenter on the internet that could be making anything up and all, yadda yadda– can you tell us why the MIT group did this? Pure prankishness? Were they so opposed to the war that they just had to do something? Or were they pissed off over DADT and wanted to lash out at the military?

            Really, enquiring minds want to know. Thanks for the info.

      3. John, you do realize this makes you a leaker too. Better watch yo’ back.

        1. …is a lawyer for the US Army making public comments on a ongoing investigation?!

  9. Uh huh, so because it leaked actual classified documents to *all* foreign governments rather than passed fake classified documents to a single foreign government, Wikileaks is better.

    Because espionage means you are acting on behalf of a foreign state. Passing documents to a foreign state is espionage.

    Publishing documents to the public is journalism.

    Espionage. Journalism. See the difference?

    1. Please. Assange is as much as journalist as you are. By your definition everyone who has a facebook account is a journalist.

      1. You mean website?

      2. Exactly what makes someone a journalist then? Is it belonging to the proper clubs? Exactly how could a random person “become a journalist” other than by publishing information.

        Freedom of the press was certainly understood to cover anonymous pamphleteers back when it was adopted.

        1. Come on, you know the drill. You must be licensed to be a valid journalist. 😉

          1. Makes sense. Otherwise, anyone could have freedom of the press. Can you imagine? Constitutional rights are too sacred to give to just any schlub.

      3. If David Gregory leaks nuclear secrets to the Kazakh government alone, then he is liable to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act — even though he is a professional journalist — because he was not acting as press when he did this.

        If a Toyota plant spot-welder named Bubba writes those same nuclear secrets in his publicly accessible Blogspot blog, he is acting as press and is protected by the 1st amendment.

        1. Well, he ought to be protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has never actually ruled that the Espionage Act doesn’t apply in such cases, they just said that there’s a high bar to reach.

      4. Anarchy means never having to say you aren’t a journalist.

        1. I prefer Giant Douche.

      5. Anybody with a blog is a publisher. You’ve been asleep quite a while. Would you like some time to get used to gravity?

        1. I write my thoughts in my diary. Does that make me a publisher too? Or do I have to transfer my thoughts to the internet to become a real publisher? Thanks.

          1. Do you share your diary with anyone?

            Didn’t think so.

          2. I feel an IP discussion coming.

            1. It is part and partial to the culture of New Professionalism. So historically illiterate they don’t know that the founding fathers did not have in mind that one’s job niche would have a defining roll in how the state can treat you in terms of your rights.

            2. That in fact was the kind of system of privilege they were attempting to get away from.

  10. if current reports are correct — that the Obama DOJ has now convened a Grand Jury to indict WikiLeaks and Julian Assange —

    That’s not what those “current reports”?or any others based on that same Holder statement?say. Holder’s an evil fuck, but that’s not what fuckery he’s up to. He’s just mouthing the same dumb boilerplate that covers any law-bureaucracy wheel-spinning. “Of course we’re pursuing all possible blah blah blah.”

    The DOJ is after the gay dude, if anyone. There’s no law against anything (we know of) that hair dude did.

    Here’s a law: When Greenwald puts a link in his text, he’s lying about what’s at the other end of it. And his readers never check. The guy knows who he’s writing for.

    1. That is pretty much an iron law. And no, Holder is not going to indict Assange. He can’t. Assange didn’t break any law.

      But Greenwald is too stupid or dishonest to know that.

      1. They could indict a ham sandwich.

        I’m still curious how Assange broke US law without being on US soil.

        1. I’m still curious how Assange broke US law without being on US soil.

          US law claims pretty universal jurisdication, at least over US citizens. But he doesn’t even have that.

          1. Argh, bad spelling.

        2. Manuel Noriega and Osama bin Laden have the same question. (bin Laden has been indicted in absentia on a bunch of stuff despite never setting foot on US soil)

          1. Noriega got a bad deal. OBL is different in that he alledgely helped plan an act of terror that was commited on US soil.

          2. At least we know Manny Noriega did the shit we accused him of.

            Mainly because we were paying him to do it, but that’s just a quibble.

            1. Didn’t that have something to do with handing over the Canal?

              My memory isn’t what it used to be.

      2. Anyone accepting this anti-GG bluster at face value should actually read at least the first two grafs of the CNN story linked to on the words “current report” in the blockquote from him.

  11. It is fucking pathetic watching people fall all over themselves in attempt to see who can go the most overboard in praising Assange.

    1. oooh, Assange, you’re soooo big! so very ver- KRRRAAAASSSSHHHH

      dammit. ow! ow! ow! ow!

    2. It’s fucking hilarious seeing people like you that just hate Assange oh so very much. He drives you nuts. And why? Because he released some information?

      Your hate speaks so much more about what you are than anything you could actually say.

    3. I am not praising him. I think he is scum bag. But being a scum bag doesn’t mean he is a criminal. Glenn Greenwald is a scumbag. But that doesn’t mean I think that he should be locked up on trumped up charges.

      1. “”I am not praising him.””

        I haven’t seen any post on this thread that does, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

        1. I’d say that Fluffy has, but it’s pretty irrelevant to the legal question.

          1. IMO, I don’t think what Fluffy said amounts to praise.

      2. You do know what the expression “scumbag” originally referred to, do you? Looks like Assange’s problems started with not having one of those!

    4. As I’ve written before: Assange and WikiLeaks are irrelevant; this thing has legs because of what it is. And don’t fool yourself: you know exactly what I’m talking about.

  12. My neighbors don’t pick up after their nasty giant dogs who leave nasty giant dog-turds on the sidewalk. I’m leaking this information. Just in case the people want to know about it. This act will make me both a hero and a journalist. You’re welcome.

  13. http://original.antiwar.com/pr…..e-somalia/

    Apparently good ol’ U.S.A. urged Ethiopia to launch a war of aggression against its neighbor (Somalia, the Libertarian paradise)

    1. USA out of libertopia! No blood for statism!

    2. They only did it to get the gay dudes in Somalia. And because Somalis chew Khat, which is a drug and because of John Ashcroft and because. Because.

    3. So long as we keep Somalia in turmoil and in a constant state of conflict, no one in the Federal government will have to answer a real question ever again.

      Why do you need an 8% budget increase when you are currently overstaffed?

      Somalia!

      TSA isn’t working and those idiots are making us all look bad, why don’t we privatize airport security?

      Somalia!

  14. Didn’t you hear? Only news corporations get freedom of the press. McCain-Feingold said so.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.