Julian Assange Charged yesterday in Surreal ‘Superceding Indictment’

The US Dept. of Injustice press release actually names it a ‘Second Superceding Indictment’ in this June 24, 2020 Press Release: “WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Superseding Indictment:

New Allegations Assert Assange Conspired With “Anonymous” Affiliated Hackers, Among Others  [including LulzSec]

A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment today charging Julian P. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, with offenses that relate to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.
The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019.  It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged.  According to the charging document, Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions to benefit WikiLeaks.”

The 49-page pdf is linked below the text of the release; Oscar Grant seems to have read them all, but needs must, so I’ll only paste in the most salient details, which are many in any event.

‘US indictment of Assange based on testimony of FBI assets, convicted child molester’, Oscar Grenfell, 25 June 2020, wsws.org

“The additional material added to the introductory section of the new indictment is a desperate attempt to bolster that count, and the broader narrative that Assange is a “hacker,” not a publisher or journalist.” [snip]

The new indictment further exposes the attempt to extradite Assange to the US as a dirty-tricks political operation, rather than any sort of legal proceeding. It paints a picture of US government operatives pouring through decade-old tabloid gossip and dredging up the most unsavoury creatures of their own intelligence agencies to fling mud at Assange. It is an attempt to salvage their claim that he is a “hacker,” more than a year after they first publicly-unveiled charges against him. [snip]

Significantly, none of the [aforementioned] events was held in the United States, but are cited as evidence of intent, or conspiracy, to violate American laws. This is in line with the unprecedented assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction on which the entire indictment is based. The Justice Department is essentially arguing that domestic US laws apply to all individuals and gatherings in every part of the world.

Unlike the previous indictment, the latest US charge sheet condemns Assange over WikiLeaks’ role in assisting Edward Snowden to travel from Hong Kong to Russia in 2013, where he successfully obtained political asylum. Snowden is a multi-award winning whistleblower, who exposed illegal global surveillance operations by the US National Security Agency.

The document complains that WikiLeaks publicised its role in defending Snowden to display its commitment to whistleblower protection. This alone brands the new indictment as a further assault on fundamental journalistic practices.

A substantial part of the new material in the indictment appears to be based on testimony and information provided by two acknowledged informants of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, named in the document as “Teenager,” and Hector Monsegur, known by the online pseudonym “Sabu.” [snip]

The indictment alleges that in early 2010, “Teenager” provided Assange with information stolen from a bank. It claims that the WikiLeaks founder “asked Teenager to commit computer intrusion and steal additional information, including audio recordings of phone conversations between officials in NATO Country-1, including members of parliament…”

The country being referenced is Iceland. The allegation that WikiLeaks attempted to surreptitiously record parliamentary conversations there has been in circulation for years. The story was only publicly promulgated after Thordarson began secretly working with the FBI. Its transparent purpose was to jeopardise WikiLeaks’ activities in a relatively liberal country where it enjoyed high levels of popular support.

Assange, moreover, has never been accused, let alone charged with a crime by any Icelandic agency. Senior government officials, however, including then Interior Minister Ögmundur Jonasson, have stated that FBI dirty-tricks operations were afoot against WikiLeaks.

Jonasson has testified that in June 2011, he blocked a plane load of FBI agents who had been sent to seek “our cooperation in what I understood as an operation to set up, to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.” The frame had been accompanied by warnings of a plot to hack Icelandic government infrastructure. [snip]

That WikiLeaks published material obtained by Lulzsec has been known for years. In 2012, one of the hackers Jeremy Hammond was arrested and convicted for hacking into Stratfor, a private company dubbed a shadow CIA. WikiLeaks released emails from the firm showing that it had spied on activists and revealing its close relations to US government agencies.

The threadbare character of the allegations, however, is overshadowed by the fact that when Thordarson first made contact with Lulzsec, it was already effectively controlled by the FBI. Monsegur (“Sabu”), its leader, had been arrested on June 7, 2011, and had immediately agreed to collaborate with the US government.

A Justice Department press release accompanying the indictment coyly states: “In 2012, Assange communicated directly with a leader of the hacking group LulzSec (who by then was cooperating with the FBI)…” This is a gross understatement. By that stage, Monsegur had been frantically burning associates for over six months, to avoid decades in prison, and had agreed to transform Lulzsec into a US government entrapment service.

… Thordarson is an individual who could never be deemed a credible witness. WikiLeaks has alleged that he stole at least $50,000 from the organisation.

In 2014, he pled guilty in an Icelandic court to 18 counts of fraud, embezzlement and theft, some of them relating to his missapropriations from WikiLeaks. The combined offenses carried a dollar value estimated at $US 240,000. Thordarson was also convicted of impersonating Assange.

The following year he pled guilty to a raft of sexual offences, after admitting that he had coerced underage boys into performing sexual acts on him. A court-appointed psychologist found that he was a sociopath suffering from a “severe anti-social personality disorder.”

In Thordarson, a convicted paedophile and conman, and Monsegur, a former petty criminal turned stool pigeon, the US government has found the fitting representatives of its campaign against Assange. The reliance on testimony from both men demonstrates that the US extradition request should be dismissed as a criminal operation, involving individuals who themselves should be in prison.

The British courts and government, however, have made clear their support for the US-led vendetta against Assange, underscoring that it is up to the working class to take forward the fight for his freedom.”

I didn’t bring their photos, but fancy a federal Grand Jury finding them credible witnesses.  Surreal.

Joe Lauria’s June 24th coverage at consortiumnews.com includes:

Routine Journalism

In 2010, Robert Parry, one of the best investigative reporters of his era, and the founder of this website, wrote that the then pending plans of the Obama administration to indict Assange “for conspiring with Army Pvt. Bradley Manning to obtain U.S. secrets strikes at the heart of investigative journalism on national security scandals.”

Parry added:

That’s because the process for reporters obtaining classified information about crimes of state most often involves a journalist persuading some government official to break the law either by turning over classified documents or at least by talking about the secret information. There is almost always some level of ‘conspiracy’ between reporter and source.” [Emphasis added.]

Parry thus admitted to encouraging his sources to turn over classified information even if it meant committing the lesser crime of leaking classified information if it could help prevent a larger crime from being committed. In this way Assange encouraged Manning to turn over material such as the “Collateral Murder” video in the hope that it could end the illegal war in Iraq.

“In most cases, I played some role – either large or small – in locating the classified information or convincing some government official to divulge some secrets. More often than not, I was the instigator of these ‘conspiracies,’” Parry wrote.

He added:

“Whether cajoling a nervous government official to expose a secret or exploiting some unauthorized access to classified material – is part of what an investigative journalist does in covering national security abuses. The traditional rule of thumb has been that it’s the government’s job to hide the secrets and a reporter’s job to uncover them.” 

Lauria’s also added a few WikiLeaks Tweets and one from Julian’s mum concerning (consortium news coverage) of this video on CBS 60 minutes Australia (hat/tip café denizen juliania who’d brought it to my ‘CIA incompetence led to Vault 7 publications’.

‘ASSANGE EXTRADITION: ’60 Minutes’ Gives Assange Fair Shake’, The Australian version of the CBS News program ’60 Minutes’ presented a segment on Julian Assange Sunday night that was missing the usual mainstream media smears and distortions about his case, June 22, 2020, consortiumnews.com (CS almost provides a transript.)

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

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