Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, was arrested yesterday in London, in accordance with the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty. He was charged with assisting Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to crack a password on a classified U.S. government computer.
The indictment states that in March 2010, Assange assisted Manning by cracking password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Being an intelligence analyst, Manning had access to certain computers and used these to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. “Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures”, the indictment report states.
“Manning confessed to leaking more than 725,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks following her deployment to Iraq in 2009—including battlefield reports and five Guantanamo Bay detainee profiles”, Gizmodo reports.
In 2013, Manning was convicted of leaking the classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks. She was jailed in early March this year as a recalcitrant witness after she refused to answer the grand jury’s questions. According to court filings, after Manning’s arrest, she was held in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail for nearly a month.
Following Assange’s arrest, a Swedish software developer and digital privacy activist, Ola Bini, who is allegedly close to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has also been detained. “The official said they are looking into whether he was part of a possible effort by Assange and Wikileaks to blackmail Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno”, the Washington Post reports. Bini was detained at Quito’s airport as he was preparing to board a flight for Japan.
Martin Fowler, a British software developer and renowned author and speaker, tweeted on Bini’s arrest. He said that Bini is a strong advocate and developer supporting privacy, and has not been able to speak to any lawyers.
I'm very concerned to hear that my friend and colleague @olabini has been arrested in Ecuador. He is a strong advocate and developer supporting privacy and has not been able to speak to any lawyershttps://t.co/bbSsjPPkfW
— Martin Fowler (@martinfowler) April 12, 2019
Following Assange’s arrest, Hillary Clinton, who was the nominee for the 2016 Presidential elections, said, “The bottom line is that he has to answer for what he has done”. “WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers during the 2016 election season hurt Clinton’s presidential campaign”, the Washington Post reports.
Assange, who is an Australian citizen, was dragged out of Ecuador’s embassy in London after his seven-year asylum was revoked. He was granted Asylum by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in 2012 for publishing sensitive information about U.S. national security interests. Australian PM, Scott Morrison told Australian Broadcasting Corp. the charge is a “matter for the United States” and has nothing to do with Australia.
He was granted asylum just after “he was released on bail while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations. The accusations have since been dropped but he was still wanted for jumping bail”, the Washington Post states.
A Swedish woman alleged that she was raped by Julian Assange during a visit to Stockholm in 2010. Post Assange’s arrest on Thursday, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the unnamed woman, said in a text message sent to The Associated Press that “we are going to do everything” to have the Swedish case reopened “so Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape.” She further added, “no rape victim should have to wait nine years to see justice be served.”
“In 2017, Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped a long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange, saying there was no way to have Assange detained or charged within a foreseeable future because of his protected status inside the embassy”, the Washington Post reports.
In a tweet, Wikileaks posted a photo of Assange with the words: “This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulian.”
This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulian pic.twitter.com/dVBf1EcMa5
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Duncan Ross, a data philanthropist, tweeted, “Random thoughts on Assange: 1) journalists don’t have to be nice people but 2) being a journalist (if he is) doesn’t put you above the law.”
Random thoughts on Assange: 1) journalists don’t have to be nice people but 2) being a journalist (if he is) doesn’t put you above the law 3) @jeremycorbyn’s take is wrong: the merits of the case should have nothing to do with what his revelations were
— Duncan Ross (@duncan3ross) April 12, 2019
Edward Snowden, a former security contractor who leaked classified information about U.S. surveillance programs, says the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a blow to media freedom. “Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom”, he tweets.
According to the Washington Post, in an interview with The Associated Press, Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s former president, was harshly critical of his successor’s decision to expel the Wikileaks founder from Ecuador’s embassy in London. He said that “although Julian Assange denounced war crimes, he’s only the person supplying the information.”
Correa said “It’s the New York Times, the Guardian and El Pais publishing it. Why aren’t those journalists and media owners thrown in jail?”
Yanis Varoufakis, Economics professor and former Greek finance minister, tweeted, “It was never about Sweden, Putin, Trump or Hillary. Assange was persecuted for exposing war crimes. Will those duped so far now stand with us in opposing his disappearance after a fake trial where his lawyers will not even now the charges?”
The game is up. Years of lies exposed. It was never about Sweden, Putin, Trump or Hillary. Assange was persecuted for exposing war crimes. Will those duped so far now stand with us in opposing his disappearance after a fake trial where his lawyers will not even now the charges?
— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) April 11, 2019
The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (@DiEM_25) tweeted that Assange’s arrest is “a chilling demonstration of the current disregard for human rights and freedom of speech by establishment powers and the rising far-right.” The movement has also put a petition against Assange’s extradition.
Today’s arrest of @wikileaks founder & @DiEM_25 member Julian #Assange is a chilling demonstration of the current disregard for #humanrights and freedom of speech by establishment powers & the rising far-right.
— DiEM25 (@DiEM_25) April 11, 2019