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Julian Assange Won’t Be Extradited to the US Yet

by Elijah
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Julian Assange Won’t Be Extradited to the US Yet

Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, admitted during a 2013 court-martial to leaking more than 725,000 documents to WikiLeaks, although her conviction only covers portions of hundreds of documents. Manning was accused but acquitted of ‘aiding the enemy’. Her 35-year prison sentence was commuted in January 2017 by former US President Barack Obama in one of his last acts in office.

The Espionage Act, under which Assange is charged, is one of the most controversial laws in the country’s criminal code, used by prosecutors against whistleblowers and national security leakers with the same intensity as any captured traitor or spy.

A lot of the The US case is based on digital logs of conversations between WikiLeaks employees and accounts allegedly staffed by Assange himself. Ironically, most if not all of this evidence itself has been leaked or otherwise collected by independent researchers over the years. Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDOS), a successor to WikiLeaks, has collected at least hundreds of thousands of pages of relevant documents from a variety of confidential sources, including those targeted by FBI informants and targeted by the agency itself via search warrants.

A private database created by DDOS, reviewed by WIRED, currently contains approximately 100 gigabytes of WikiLeaks material, including several hundred thousand internal emails and tens of thousands of chat logs, many of which bear account names known to have been used by Assange personally.

Despite being painstakingly cataloged by DDOS researchers, it remains difficult to quantify how many communications from individuals were recorded due to the sheer volume of text. The anti-secrecy agency’s first files related to Assange’s online activities date back 30 years.

Emma Best, a journalist and co-founder of DDOS, said the organization is believed to have all – or nearly all – of the recorded conversations cited in the US government’s indictment. A large percentage of internal WikiLeaks chatter is believed to have been recorded by Sigurdur Thordarson, a former WikiLeaks employee, in the years and months leading up to his betrayal of the organization.

Following his stint as an FBI informant in 2011, Thordarson faced multiple convictions in Icelandic court for sex crimes involving minors and for fraud involving funds embezzled through WikiLeaks. According to Best, a close inspection of the files, as he often does, would cast further doubt on Thordarson’s reliability misrepresents statements by Assange while communicating with other WikiLeaks employees and supporters.

Best says making the WikiLeaks files public is a priority because of the US’s aggressive steps in the case and international repercussions, but distribution is currently limited to trusted professionals, mainly for privacy reasons. WIRED’s investigation found that the documents identify numerous individuals, including many not affiliated with WikiLeaks. Moreover, the U.S. and British governments likely have access to all or most of the same records, Best says, while other governments that might try to act on them legally are unlikely to do so.

“The case against WikiLeaks and Assange is as misunderstood as it is mysterious and important; the problems are exacerbated by the many liars involved and the largely vibrational analysis of it,” she tells WIRED. “The first step to solving this is simple: leak the case.”

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