Yesterday there were as yet unconfirmed reports that a grand jury has been ‘secretly empanelled’ outside Washington, D.C. to consider an indictment against Julian Assange. One of his attorneys, Mark Stephens told David Frost that Swedish authorities shared the information with him recently. Stephens claims collusion between the US and Sweden in these matters; that’s not surprising. Assange will be in court today in London for a hearing on his extradition.
Eric Holder had said this week that he has authorized significant steps to be taken as a result of the latest leaks, but didn’t elaborate; a State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the grand jury reports.
The conversation between Frost and Stephens on Al-Jazeera television is a marvel to behold. It’s calm and rational, two qualities that have been lacking in the American media coverage and outcries from politicians demanding he be tried under the Espionage Act, including Dianne Feinstein, Peter King, and Kit Bond. Joe Lieberman has wondered publicly why he hasn’t been extradited from England to the US yet. Insane cries for Assange’s head aren’t uncommon on the internet and television. . . .
This CNET page has a lot of good links to follow, including this one to a CNET analysis of the Espionage Act and related cases, including one of a non-US-citizen, who have been convicted under the act. An excerpt:
“The 1917 Espionage Act, enacted by the U.S. Congress during World War I, has been a mainstay of national security prosecutions ever since. And it’s been upheld as constitutional by every court that has examined whether its invocation in a criminal prosecution complies with the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. A CNET review of Espionage Act cases shows that judges have generally favored the government and, in a 1985 case, even allowed an extraterritorial prosecution of a non-U.S. citizen. In the 1978 case of U.S. v. Dedeyan, the Fourth Circuit upheld the Act against arguments that it was vague and overly broad. A year later, in U.S. v. Boyce, the Ninth Circuit ruled it was “constitutionally sufficient.” “We find no uncertainty in this statute which deprives a person of the ability to predetermine whether a contemplated action is criminal under the provisions of this law,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1941. “The language employed appears sufficiently definite to apprise the public of prohibited activities and is consonant with due process.”
The links toward the middle of the original CNET page report on some of the fake Wikileaks mirror sites, and the phony memos and cables that have been published. That was something I’d foolishly never considered.
And a link to writings from Assange via zunguzungu at the time he founded Wikileaks, including this: “Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.”