U.S. prosecutors set stage for espionage charges

Posted on December 26, 2011


During last week’s pre-trial hearings into the possible court-martial of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, testimony emerged that made evident the federal charges that U.S. federal prosecutors may attempt to bring against Julian Assange.

Military prosecutors have presented evidence that they say shows that Assange and Manning “collaborated” in leaking and publishing more than half a million classified documents. This purported evidence allegedly consists of chat logs between Manning and Assange in which the soldier asks Assange for help with cracking a password so as to access classified military computer systems. Prosecutors alleged that Assange assisted Manning as requested, while using the alias “Nathanial Frank.”

Julian Assange has reportedly long been the subject of a grand jury investigation. These recent statements from federal prosecutors suggest that the Australian may be subject to charges amounting to conspiracy to commit espionage.

According to the Washington Post: “Baher Azmy, an attorney for Assange with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the evidence is speculative. ‘We have no access to and cannot review or see the government’s evidence,’ he said. ‘We do not know if it is reliable.'”

The Post also reported the following closing statement by Manning’s defense attorney Daniel Coombs:

“History will ultimately judge my client,” he said, and reprised a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. “An individual who breaks a law” that conscience tells him is unjust, Coombs said, and who risks prison to arouse the conscience of the community is in reality expressing the “very, very highest respect for the law.”

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