CNN: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange got 'new computing & network hardware,' maybe hacked 2016 election data, in weird Ecuador embassy meetings

CNN reports that the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, personally received deliveries, potentially including hacked materials related to the 2016 U.S. elections, during a series of odd meetings at Ecuador's Embassy in London. Read the rest

Assange "too ill" for court hearing, says lawyer

Julian Assange, imprisoned at Belmarsh on a 50-week sentence for jumping bail, was said by his lawyer to be too ill to appear by video link at a court hearing Thursday. The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition to the United States over the site's publication of classified U.S. government information.

According to WikiLeaks, Assange has been moved to the medical ward in jail.

A spokesman for the whistleblowing website said it had "grave concerns" about Assange's health. "During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight," the spokesman said.

"Defence lawyer for Assange, Per Samuelson, said that Julian Assange's health state last Friday was such 'that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him'."

Has anyone ever conducted a normal conversation with him? Read the rest

U.S. charges Julian Assange under Espionage Act

The U.S. Department of Justice today indicted Wikileaks' Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, the first time a publisher has been charged for revealing classified information.

Kevin Poulsen and Betsy Woodruff:

The indictment announced Thursday in Washington, D.C. charges Assange with 16 counts of variously receiving or disclosing material leaked by then-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, which WikiLeaks published as the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs” following Manning’s arrest. Assange is also charged with one count of conspiracy to receive the documents, and an 18th count carries over the previous charge against Assange accusing him of conspiring to violate computer hacking laws.

Assange, recently extracted from London's Ecuadorian embassy after his hosts there tired of his presence, is already serving a yearlong sentence in Britain for jumping bail in a sexual assault case. He already faces extradition to the U.S. on computer-crime charges—and possibly to Sweden, where prosecutors revived the assault case after his arrest.

Many U.S. media outlets were first to publish Wikileaks' material, working directly with Assange, and some won Pulitzer prizes for it. As University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck puts it:

"The issue isn't whether Assange is a "journalist"; this will be a major test case because the text of the _Espionage Act_ doesn't distinguish between what Assange allegedly did and what mainstream outlets sometimes do, even if the underlying facts/motives are radically different."

The actual whistleblower/leaker in the case, Chelsea Manning, served several years in jail for it. She is currently being held again, after rufusing to give further evidence to a grand jury in the Assange case. Read the rest

Sweden reopens rape case, plans to request Assange extradition

Julian Assange originally fled to Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden and may be headed there after all. Eva-Marie Persson, the director of public prosecutions in Stockholm, has re-opened his rape case and signaled that a new extradition request is coming.

UK authorities will have to decide which extradition request to prioritise if Sweden, too, issues a request.

"I am well aware of the fact that an extradition process is ongoing in the UK and that he could be extradited to the US. In the event of a conflict between a European Arrest Warrant and a request for extradition from the US, UK authorities will decide on the order of priority," Persson said.

"The outcome of this process is impossible to predict. However, in my view the Swedish case can proceed concurrently with the proceedings in the UK."

Sweden previously dropped the case as Assange's asylum in the embassy dragged on for years. Assange, the co-founder of Wikileaks, was recently handed to UK police and sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail; US authorities are charging him with computer-related crimes over his publication of embarassing state secrets. He claims the sex was consensual. Read the rest

Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced Wednesday to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail. Assange took refuge in London's Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over two alleged sexual assaults, but was finally handed to the police earlier this month.

Sentencing him, Judge Deborah Taylor told Assange it was difficult to envisage a more serious example of the offence.

"By hiding in the embassy you deliberately put yourself out of reach, while remaining in the UK," she said.

She said this had "undoubtedly" affected the progress of the Swedish proceedings.

His continued residence at the embassy and bringing him to justice had cost taxpayers £16m, she added.

Assange apologized thus:

I apologise unreservedly to those who consider that I have disrespected them by the way I have pursued my case.

This is not what I wanted or intended.

I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances for which neither I nor those from whom I sought advice could work out any remedy.

I did what I thought at the time was the best and perhaps the only thing that could be done - which I hoped might lead to a legal resolution being reached between Ecuador and Sweden that would protect me from the worst of my fears.

I regret the course that this took; the difficulties were instead compounded and impacted upon very many others.

Whilst the difficulties I now face may have become even greater, nevertheless it is right for me to say this now.

Read the rest

Julian Assange dragged from Ecuador's embassy in London and arrested

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested today in London and removed from Ecuador's embassy there. He was taken from the embassy—video shows a cuffed Assange dragged by several men through its doors—after his asylum was withdrawn and officers invited in.

Assange stayed in the embassy for six years to avoid a sexual assault case in Sweden that was eventually closed, but still faced arrest for skipping court dates. The U.K. Foreign Office admitted, however, that his arrest today was made at the behest of U.S. authorities over "computer crimes" charges that await him there.

Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno said it withdrew Mr Assange's asylum after his repeated violations of international conventions.

But Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange's political asylum "in violation of international law".

Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: "I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK.

The U.S. charges are unclear but likely relate to Wikileaks' publication of documents and videos showing U.S. war crimes, misconduct and a plethora of other embarrassing and classified information. Wikileaks maintained that Assange's detention and asylum ultimately concerned these plans to extradite him to America.

UPDATE: It's confirmed that the arrest is "at the behest" of the U.S. government.

Read the rest

Court document refers to U.S. charge against Julian Assange; source says prosecution planned

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged with crime in the U.S., according to one court document, while anonymous sources tell the Wall Street Journal the Department of Justice is planning to prosecute him.

The supposed charge was revealed by a reference to it in an unrelated case against someone named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer.

It's not clear what the charge is and a spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. attorney’s office told Huffington Post it was "not the intended name for this filing," leaving open the question of whether he has in fact been charged.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that U.S. authorities are "optimistic" about pressing charges.

“I have no idea if he has actually been charged or for what, but the notion that the federal criminal charges could be brought based on the publication of truthful information is an incredibly dangerous precedent to set,” said Barry J. Pollack, one of Assange’s attorneys, in reaction to the news.

Assange remains holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London after skipping bail on his extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of rape. Though the Swedish prosecution was eventually dropped, Assange still faces arrest on the bail issue if he leaves the embassy, and fears this will be used to engineer his extradition to the United States. Read the rest

Assange to sue Ecuador

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London for years to avoid being arrested by British cops for skipping bail. Read the rest

Ecuador expected to hand Assange to UK (Update: Ecuador denies)

Ecuador is to rescind Julian Assange's political asylum, reports Reuters, effectively dooming him to arrest by British authorities for jumping bail.

Assange has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012 when he successfully sought asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about allegations of sex crimes which he has always denied.

Those allegations have since been dropped but Assange would be arrested by British police should he leave the embassy for breaching bail conditions. He believes that would pave the way for extradition to the United States for the publication of a huge cache of U.S. diplomatic and military secrets on the WikiLeaks website.

Update: An official statement from Ecuador's government denies it. [via Kevin Poulsen] Read the rest

Democratic Party lawsuit says Russia, Trump campaign, WikiLeaks conspired to hack 2016 presidential campaign

The Democratic National Committee today filed a lawsuit against the Russian government, Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and WikiLeaks, alleging the Trump campaign 'gleefully welcomed Russia's help.' Court papers describe a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign, and throw the election for Donald Trump through a complex and well-funded global disinformation campaign. Read the rest

How a cooked Assange quote ended up media gospel

Wikileaks, the clearing house for state secrets, seems more about founder Julian Assange's grudges these days: especially the one for Hillary Clinton. Much fuss was made over a quote—that he had "enough evidence" to guarantee an indictment of her—that was widely attributed to him. It turns out, though, that the quote doesn't check out: most point to a mangled interview on the UK's ITV where it isn't even said. Jesse Singal set out to track down a source that no-one bothered to verify. It's a surprisingly tantalizing and teasing journey, but the tl;dr seems to be that the quote was originally fabricated by the blog Zero Hedge. Read the rest

Julian Assange had promised to turn himself if the UN ruled his detention lawful

When a UN panel from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upheld Julian Assange's claim that he was being unlawfully detained in London's Ecuadorean embassy, they also stopped Assange from turning himself in to the London police. Read the rest

UN panel determines Assange "arbitrarily detained"

A UN panel has concluded that Julian Assange is being "arbitrarily detained," reports the BBC

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, knowing that he will be arrested if he leaves. Originally detained in connection to rape and sexual assault claims out of Sweden, Assange says the claims are false and crafted to disrupt his whistleblowing work.

Downing Street said the panel's ruling would not be legally binding in the UK while a European Arrest Warrant remained in place.

"We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy," he added.

"The UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden." The Swedish foreign ministry said in a statement that it noted the UN panel's decision "differs from that of the Swedish authorities".

Read the rest

Assange allegations dropped, but he's not going anywhere

Two allegations of sexual assault leveled against Julian Assange by Swedish police were dropped Thursday due to that nation's statute of limitations.

But he still faces a more serious rape allegation and remains subject to if ever he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“Julian Assange, on his own accord, has evaded prosecution by seeking refuge in the embassy of Ecuador,” Swedish chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said in a statement. “As the statute of limitation has [expired] … I am compelled to discontinue the investigation.”

Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has not been charged in connection to the allegations and denies them, maintaining that they amount to politically motivated retaliation for his work exposing embarrassing government misdeeds. His lawyers say that should he travel to Sweden, he will be extradited to the U.S., which recently sentenced whistleblower (and Assange source) Chelsea Manning to 35 years' imprisonment.

“I am an innocent man. I haven’t even been charged," Assange told The Guardian. "From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the [Ecuadorian] embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both.”

Since Assange entered Ecuador's embassy in 2012 and was granted asylum, the UK government has spent more than £12m maintaining a round-the-clock police presence at its doors to prevent him leaving.

The situation is a bureaucratic farce: Swedish prosecutors say they are willing to interview Assange in London, but Ecuador will not permit them to do so within their embassy. Read the rest

Wikileaks' Assange asks Swedish police to investigate FBI, US intel activity

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher and Australian Senate candidate currently sheltered in Ecuador's London Embassy, "has lodged a formal complaint asking Swedish police to open a criminal investigation into alleged illegal United States intelligence activity in Europe directed against WikiLeaks and himself." [the Age] Read the rest

Ecuador: our London embassy was bugged

Representatives of the government of Ecuador in London claim to have discovered a hidden microphone inside its London embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living. The bug is being analyzed by forensics experts, and Ecuador intends to diclose more information on who controlled or planted it as they are available. It "was found inside the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban, at the time of a visit to the embassy by Patino to meet with Assange on June 16."

[Reuters] Read the rest

UK spooks' candid opinions of the Assange affair revealed

Julian Assange has presented a set of data protection act liberated messages from GCHQ, the UK spy headquarters, concerning his own case. According to Assange, the messages reveal that UK spies believed that the Swedish rape inquiry against him was a "fit up" aimed at punishing him for his involvement in Wikileaks (many believe that the Swedish government would have aided in Assange's extradition to the USA, where there is a sealed Grand Jury indictment against him). He also revealed cables relating to the spies' candid opinion about his sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy:

A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate..."

...A second instant message conversation from August last year between two unknown people saw them call Assange a fool for thinking Sweden would drop its attempt to extradite him.

The conversation, as read out by Assange, goes: "He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He's a fool… Yeah … A highly optimistic fool."

GCHQ acknowledges that the messages are real, but, "The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ's policies or views in any way."

Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition [Giles Tremlett and Ben Quinn/Guardian] Read the rest

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