Author Topic: U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks  (Read 2241 times)

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Offline jujyjuji

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U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks
« on: August 25, 2014, 12:31:30 PM »
U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks

Released on 2013-03-06 00:00 GMT
Email-ID    1629166
Date    2010-12-16 18:24:47
From    [email protected]
To    [email protected]


*forgive me if this was sent out yesterday. in the paper this morning.
Nothing we didn't expect, but it provides some detail.

U.S. Tries to Build Case for Conspiracy by WikiLeaks
Published: December 15, 2010

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors, seeking to build a case against the
WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange for his role in a huge dissemination of
classified government documents, are looking for evidence of any collusion
in his early contacts with an Army intelligence analyst suspected of
leaking the information.

Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange
encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract
classified military and State Department files from a government computer
system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator
in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then
published them.

Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which
Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating
with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the
soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to
have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for
uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.

Adrian Lamo, an ex-hacker in whom Private Manning confided and who
eventually turned him in, said Private Manning detailed those interactions
in instant-message conversations with him.

He said the special server's purpose was to allow Private Manning's
submissions to "be bumped to the top of the queue for review." By Mr.
Lamo's account, Private Manning bragged about this "as evidence of his
status as the high-profile source for WikiLeaks."

Wired magazine has published excerpts from logs of online chats between
Mr. Lamo and Private Manning. But the sections in which Private Manning is
said to detail contacts with Mr. Assange are not among them. Mr. Lamo
described them from memory in an interview with The Times, but he said he
could not provide the full chat transcript because the F.B.I. had taken
his hard drive, on which it was saved.

Since WikiLeaks began making public large caches of classified United
States government documents this year, Justice Department officials have
been struggling to come up with a way to charge Mr. Assange with a crime.
Among other things, they have studied several statutes that criminalize
the dissemination of restricted information under certain circumstances,
including the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
of 1986.

But while prosecutors have used such laws to go after leakers and hackers,
they have never successfully prosecuted recipients of leaked information
for passing it on to others - an activity that can fall under the First
Amendment's strong protections of speech and press freedoms.

Last week, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said he had just authorized
investigators to take "significant" steps, declining to specify them. This
week, one of Mr. Assange's lawyers in Britain said they had "heard from
Swedish authorities there has been a secretly impaneled grand jury" in
northern Virginia.

Justice Department officials have declined to discuss any grand jury
activity. But in interviews, people familiar with the case said the
department appeared to be attracted to the possibility of prosecuting Mr.
Assange as a co-conspirator to the leaking because it is under intense
pressure to make an example of him as a deterrent to further mass leaking
of electronic documents over the Internet.

By bringing a case against Mr. Assange as a conspirator to Private
Manning's leak, the government would not have to confront awkward
questions about why it is not also prosecuting traditional news
organizations or investigative journalists who also disclose information
the government says should be kept secret - including The New York Times,
which also published some documents originally obtained by WikiLeaks.

"I suspect there is a real desire on the part of the government to avoid
pursuing the publication aspect if it can pursue the leak aspect," said
Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor and former federal prosecutor.
"It would be so much neater and raise fewer constitutional issues."

It has been known that investigators were looking for evidence that one or
more people in Boston served as an intermediary between Private Manning
and WikiLeaks, taking a disc of files he had copied from a computer while
deployed in Iraq and somehow delivering it to the Web site.

But Mr. Lamo said Private Manning also sometimes uploaded information
directly to Mr. Assange, whom he had initially sought out online. The
soldier sent a "test leak" of a single State Department cable from Iceland
to see if Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks were who they claimed to be, Mr. Lamo
"At some point, he became satisfied that he was actually talking to
Assange and not some unknown third party posing as Assange, and based on
that he began sending in smaller amounts of data from his computer," Mr.
Lamo said. "Because of the nature of his Internet connection, he wasn't
able to send large data files easily. He was using a satellite connection,
so he was limited until he did an actual physical drop-off when he was
back in the United States in January of this year."

Still, prosecutors would most likely need more than a chat transcript
laying out such claims to implicate Mr. Assange, Professor Richman said.
Even if prosecutors could prove that it was Private Manning writing the
messages to Mr. Lamo, a court might deem the whole discussion as
inadmissible hearsay evidence.

Prosecutors could overcome that hurdle if they obtain other evidence about
any early contacts - especially if they could persuade Private Manning to
testify against Mr. Assange. But two members of a support network set up
to raise money for his legal defense, Jeff Paterson and David House, said
Private Manning had declined to cooperate with investigators since his
arrest in May.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks is taking steps to distance itself from the
suggestion that it actively encourages people to send in classified
material. It has changed how it describes itself on its submissions page.
"WikiLeaks accepts a range of material, but we do not solicit it," its Web
site now says.

It also deleted the word "classified" from a description of the kinds of
material it accepts. And it dropped an assertion that "Submitting
confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law,"
now saying instead: "Submitting documents to our journalists is protected
by law in better democracies."
WikiLeaks is also taking steps to position itself more squarely as a news
organization, which could make it easier to invoke the First Amendment as
a shield. Where its old submissions page made few references to
journalism, it now uses "journalist" and forms of the word "news" 23

Another new sentence portrays its primary work as filtering and analyzing
documents, not just posting them raw. It says its "journalists write news
stories based on the material, and then provide a link to the supporting
documentation to prove our stories are true."
A version of this article appeared in print on December 16, 2010, on page
A1 of the New York edition.


Sean Noonan

Tactical Analyst

Office: +1 512-279-9479

Mobile: +1 512-758-5967

Strategic Forecasting, Inc.

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