WikiLeaks withheld 15,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan to ‘protect the innocent’ from harm, the Old Bailey heard today
Former Der Spiegel reporter John Goetz told Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that WikiLeaks “ removed bad stuff ” to make sure no one was endangered.
Assange, 49, is wanted in the US for allegedly conspiring with Army Intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to uncover military secrets between January and May 2010.
The US claims that the founder of WikiLeaks has published the unedited names of US informants living in Iraq and Afghanistan. This may endanger their lives, Washington says.
However, Mr. Goetz, who worked with The Guardian and the New York Times on the Afghan files, said there was no evidence that the leaks were causing any damage.
He told Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, that the news organizations were “over-editing” the material.
In Julian Assange’s extradition trial, the US claimed that the WikiLeaks founder published the unedited names of US informants living in Iraq and Afghanistan
Former Der Spiegel reporter John Goetz told Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that WikiLeaks withheld 15,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan to “ protect the innocent ” from harm
The investigative reporter provided evidence against the hearing via videolink: ‘I was asked to go to London to meet with the Guardian and Julian Assange because there was the prospect of working together on a project on Afghanistan’s war logs.
“I went there and was one of the participants in the early meeting in the bunker at The Guardian. All partners were in the same room.
We would all be partners in researching material, but each outlet would tell their own stories about the Afghanistan files.
‘It was very unorthodox and it was different. It’s fascinating because it’s much more common now, but it was very unique at the time.
‘[The documents] were a fascinating first-hand eyewitness journal of what happened during the war in Afghanistan.
‘You could follow their activities and it was not known that was very new and that is why it was a big story at the time.’
‘[Assange] was very concerned with the technicality of figuring out how to find the names in this huge, huge collection of documents * so that we could edit them so that we could take measures so that they were not published and no one was harmed.
Stella Moris (right), the partner of WikiLeaks founder Assange, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson (left) arrive at the Old Bailey in London on Monday
“It’s designed to protect the innocent from harm.”
Mr. Fizgerald asked if the ‘harm reduction process’ involved contacting the White House for permission and a fair warning.
Mr. Goetz replied, “That’s right. That was agreed by the New York Times [would do it] because the team was based in Washington.
The White House asked for editorial staff.
It was communicated to the White House that 15,000 [Afghanistan war logs] documents would not be published due to the damage mitigation process and that’s what happened. ‘
Assange’s lawyer asked Mr. Goetz if “names came through the net,” as the US claims.
He replied, ‘I don’t know if that’s true. I have no knowledge of that and I have not seen an example.
‘I’m not aware of it.
WikiLeaks edited a little over the top and ended up editing more stuff than the defense itself.
It turns out there were documents in Iraq’s war log that had already been wiped out [subject to a freedom of information request] and more information was released by the Department of Defense FOI than in the WikiLeaks editorial process.
‘I am not aware of any case where anyone has been harmed by the publication of diplomatic messages.
“WikiLeaks removed bad things.”
Yesterday, the court heard that Assange’s extradition trial is a “ politically motivated prosecution ” fueled by Donald Trump’s desire to “ keep him quiet ” as rumors that the president was aided by foreign powers in the 2016 election, including Russia , continue to tease its ‘legitimacy’.
US attorney Eric Lewis claimed President Trump is “ desperate to crush the ‘threat’ that Assange poses to his ‘legitimacy’ by ‘diverting attention’ and imprisoning him, according to his testimony presented at the extradition hearing from Assange.
The Old Bailey in London heard how President Trump blew hot and cold about the founder of WikiLeaks, first calling for his execution in 2010 before making ‘140 positive mentions’ of Assange after WikiLeaks got emails from the Democratic National Committee published to Trump’s “ Unquestioned Benefit ” in 2016.
When the emails threatened to “undermine” his political legitimacy, the US president turned back, claiming to know nothing about WikiLeaks, only that “there is something to do with Julian Assange,” it was claimed.
In his statement, Mr. Lewis said: “ The prosecution of Julian Assange is part of Trump’s efforts to divert attention from the help WikiLeaks has given to draw attention to the earlier leaks, which are much more politically powerful for him. .
“He wants to put Mr. Assange in prison and keep him quiet.”
The hearing continues.