One of the last bits of unfinished business of the Russia Hoax is the fate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Though Assange was indicted for conspiracy in association with Bradley Manning’s theft of official documents, there is every cause to believe that he was really targeted because Wikileaks was the outlet for the DNC and Podesta emails that were “hacked” and released into the wild during the 2016 election. This act, in liberal mythology, cost Hillary Clinton “her turn” to be president.
Via the New York Times:
A British judge ruled on Monday that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States to face trial on charges of violating the Espionage Act, saying he would be at extreme risk of suicide.
The decision in the high-profile case grants Mr. Assange a major victory against the U.S. authorities who charged him over his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rights groups and advocates applauded the ruling, but many expressed concern about the rationale for the decision. The judge focused on Mr. Assange’s mental health issues, but rejected the defense argument that the charges were an attack on press freedom and were politically motivated.
Mr. Assange, 49, who was present at Monday’s hearing and wearing a face mask, was indicted in 2019 on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack government computers in 2010 and 2011. If found guilty on all counts, he could face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.
The judge, Vanessa Baraitser of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said in Monday’s ruling that she was satisfied that the American authorities had brought forth the case “in good faith,” and that Mr. Assange’s actions went beyond simply encouraging a journalist. But she said there was evidence of a risk to Mr. Assange’s health if he were to face trial in the United States, noting that she found “Mr. Assange’s risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial.”
She ruled that the extradition should be refused because “it would be unjust and oppressive by reason of Mr. Assange’s mental condition,” pointing to conditions he would most likely be held under in the United States.
You don’t have to believe that Assange is anything but an amoral dirtbag, and you can still see the rank injustice in this case. The “crime” for which Assange was indicted is something that takes place in newsrooms across the country with some regularity. Assange helping Manning crack a password, if it can be called that, should be viewed as the nothingburger that it is. The government clearly views the actual release of the documents by Manning as a non-issue as he is now out of prison and engaging in a bacchanalia of plastic surgery and self-delusion.
There are two targets here. The first is that the government wants to scare media outlets that might handle documents obtained illegally. Historically, that has been accepted as legal (see The Pentagon Papers), but under the Obama administration, there was a push to target journalists who accepted leaked information. Pursuing Assange, particularly with an incoming Biden presidency, will be a sign that publishing leaked documents can get you indicted under the Espionage Act. The second part of the equation is Assange’s bit role in the 2016 election. The Deep Staters at Justice have not forgiven Assange for what they mistakenly believe was a key role in defeating Hillary Clinton. In the pursuit of Assange to get revenge for making them look bad, the Assange prosecution looks a helluva lot like that of Roger Stone.
The US government has two weeks in which to appeal this ruling. The overwhelming odds are that it will do so.
As much as I think Assange is a detestable human being, I also think President Trump should grant him a pardon. His role in the Manning leak was not something that would have been considered criminal under normal circumstances, and the prosecution for his acts stands a real risk of criminalizing ordinary newsgathering. Plus, he has totally browned off the left with his Clinton-Podesta leaks, and that should count for something.