Grand jury meets to decide fate of WikiLeaks founder
Assange under microscope
A federal grand jury in Virginia is meeting to decide whether to bring spying charges against Julian Assange, an attorney for the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder said over the weekend.
“We have heard from Swedish authorities there has been a secretly empaneled grand jury in Alexandria (Virginia),” attorney Mark Stephens told Al-Jazeera over the weekend, according to CNN. “They are currently investigating this.”
Assange is currently being held in solitary confinement in London as the UK considers an extradition request from Swedish authorities who want to question him regarding two alleged sexual assaults. He has indicated he will fight attempts to extradite him to that country. A hearing in London court is scheduled for Tuesday, Stephens said.
“I think that the Americans are much more interested in terms of the WikiLeaks aspect of this,” Stephens told the Middle Eastern news agency. If Assange is forcibly transferred to Sweden, authorities in that country have indicated “they will defer their interest in him to the Americans. It does seem to me that what we have here is nothing more than a holding charge.”
Stephens's comments came as the US House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing for Thursday “on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks.” Assange attorneys have said they expect Assange to be charged “soon” under the 1917 statute, which was enacted by Congress during World War I.
US Attorney General Eric Holder has said his agency has “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature,” related to the whistle-blower site.
No news agency has ever successfully been prosecuted under the law, but CNET provides an analysis here that suggests that if Assange is charged under the statute “his defense is likely to face long legal odds.”
The legal problems for Assange comes as his ranking for Time magazine's Man of the Year has risen above all other candidates, with the WikiLeaks founder receiving 382,020 votes, compared with 233,638 votes for the No. 2 candidate, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and 146,378 votes for pop star Lady Gaga. ®
"Charges based on a law written last Century almost 100 years ago"
I don't care if it was tattooed on Benjamin Franklin's arse by George Washington - US law does not apply to non-US citizens acting outside of the US. END OF. Do you need me to repeat that as that basic principle of international law always seems to get lost in translation to US English?
I don't think Assange is a hero - I don't have particularly strong feelings on his character one way or the other. This has become about something much more important - The US belief that they can impose their laws and their will on the rest of the world whenever they want and I do have particularly strong feelings about that:
'America? Fuck no.'
The Espionage Act?!
What's happened to America? More and more it's looking like Nazi Germany in the 30's.
You mean the Espionage Act of 1917?
The law that put E.E. Cummings in prison for expressing nothing more than insufficient hatred toward Germans? The law that imprisoned pacifists for handing out anti-draft pamphlets? That law?
The law that was passed during a spasm of war-time, nationalist hysteria to quiet fears that the Kaiser had infiltrated the "Home Front" but in application infringed free speech? The law that caused newspapers to declare the "End of Liberty?" The law which is considered by historians and constitutional scholars to be an artifact of American history that only hung around because of the Red Scare? That law?