Yet more reasons why Julian Assange should not go to the US. A fair trial is impossible when the powers that be simply want to silence him. A political with-hunt is in season. Australia must do far more:
The Justice Department, in considering whether and how it might indict Julian Assange, is looking beyond the Espionage Act of 1917 to other possible offenses, including conspiracy or trafficking in stolen property, according to officials familiar with the investigation.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. acknowledged this week that there were problems with the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that says the unauthorized possession and dissemination of information related to national defense is illegal. But he also hinted that prosecutors were looking at other statutes with regard to Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
“I don’t want to get into specifics here, but people would have a misimpression if the only statute you think that we are looking at is the Espionage Act,” Mr. Holder said Monday at a news conference. “That is certainly something that might play a role, but there are other statutes, other tools that we have at our disposal.”
Last week, The New York Times and four other news organizations began carrying articles based on an archive of a quarter-million confidential State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to them. After WikiLeaks released a batch of government documents concerning Iraq and Afghanistan in July, Mr. Holder and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, both said the leaks were being investigated, and Mr. Assange said United States officials had previously warned his organization that there had been “thoughts of whether I could be charged as a co-conspirator to espionage, which is serious.”
Mr. Assange was arrested Tuesday in Britain in connection with a Swedish investigation into accusations of sexual offenses. But United States law enforcement officials said the fact that he was in custody did not affect their deliberations about whether he might be charged in this country in connection with the publication of leaked government documents.
Prosecutors have used the Espionage Act to convict officials who leaked classified information. They have never successfully convicted any leak recipient who then passed the information along, however, and the Justice Department has never tried to prosecute a journalist —which Mr. Assange portrays himself as being — under either a Republican or a Democratic administration.
Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources.
Mr Assange is in a British jail awaiting extradition proceedings to Sweden after being refused bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court despite a number of prominent public figures offering to stand as surety.
His arrest in north London yesterday was described by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates as “good news”, and may pave the way for extradition to America and a possible lengthy jail sentence.