WikiLeaks & the Espionage Act

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can’t be tried under the 1917 Espionage Act because he’s a journalist. Should Ecuador oust Assange from its embassy where he’s lived since 2012, he faces extradition by the UK to the U.S. to face charges of leaking classified information. In early October, Ecuador issued a new set of rules for Assange. “Almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world, including by refusing to allow journalists and human rights organisations to see him, and installing three signal jammers in the embassy to prevent his phone calls and Internet access,” WikiLeaks stated, Assange has filed a lawsuit against Ecuador for the violation of his “fundamental rights.”

By S.T. Patrick

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg recently told news and commentary website “Consortium News” that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be tried under the Espionage Act of 1917 because Assange is a journalist. Ellsberg still contends that he, himself, was unfairly indicted under the act in 1973 after he leaked a critical Pentagon study of top-level Vietnam War decision-making to The New York Times and other newspapers.

The charges were dismissed against Ellsberg five months after they were levied in 1973. He has since become an outspoken advocate for whistleblowers and the practice of whistleblowing and has supported Assange as well as Edward Snowden and Chelsea (Bradley) Manning.

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As the pressure and restrictions on Assange heat up in his seventh year within the Ecuadorian embassy in London, changes have been made at WikiLeaks. Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as the new editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, though he will remain as publisher. This was announced in a tweet by WikiLeaks after “six months of effective incommunicado detention.” Ecuador’s new President Lenin Moreno has been critical of Assange, but he has stated that Ecuador will maintain Assange’s status “as long as we assume his life may be in danger.”

In an interview organized by “,” Ellsberg told “Consortium News” editor-in-chief Joe Lauria that the motivations of U.S. leaders have little to do with their repeated justification of “national security.”

“The purpose is not to protect national security but to protect the asses of the people who wrote the directives,” Ellsberg said. He then went on to repeat his long-standing argument that the “classified” label is overused at the expense of the public’s right to know.

Ellsberg then emphasized that the Espionage Act should not be applied to those who are engaging in non-spying activities in an effort to inform the public via publishing or journalism.

“Julian is not a whistleblower per se but a facilitator of whistleblowing,” Ellsberg argued, “the point being that, as a journalist, he cannot fairly be tried under the Espionage Act. . . . It is essential that Julian Assange not be indicted, be convicted, or be extradited to the United States.”

Ellsberg has long been cited as one of the sharpest thorns in the side of the Nixon administration. The administration’s response to Ellsberg was to form a group called the “White House Plumbers,” created by aides Egil Krogh and David Young under John Ehrlichman. The Plumbers would later unsuccessfully carry out the second Watergate break-in. Ellsberg could have made a comfortable life for himself as a Democratic Party politician or activist, but he did not. He has remained loyal to the anti-war movement and to the cause of whistleblowing, regardless of political party.

Get Out of CashIn 2013, Ellsberg became one of the most outspoken critics of the Barack Obama administration’s prosecution of leakers. The administration had prosecuted Manning in 2010 for leaking a large cache of classified documents to Assange and WikiLeaks.

“I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case,” Ellsberg told The Washington Post in 2013. “First of all, there’s no question that President Obama is conducting an unprecedented campaign against unauthorized disclosure. The government had used the Espionage Act against leaks only three times before his administration. He’s used it six times. He’s doing his best to assure that sources in the government will have reason to fear heavy prison sentences for informing the American public in ways he doesn’t want.”

There is a fear on the part of pro-whistleblower activists that extradition to the United States will almost certainly result in prosecution of Assange by a tough-talking Trump administration. However, there may be a motive beyond national security now, and it may be one that potentially saves Assange. The Trump administration has a vested interest in Assange revealing that his 2016 Democratic Party email leaks came from the murdered Seth Rich, a DNC tech staffer. A Democratic Party that wants that information kept private may also work to block Assange’s extradition, but under different public pretenses.

For Assange’s future, the Rich information may just be the trump card, so to speak, that he needs to guarantee that he can continue the legacy of Ellsberg.

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is

WikiLeaks Whistleblower Awaits Fate

The fate of gutsy WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange rests in the hands of the government of Ecuador, first reported here in AFP’s Issue 33&34. Assange has lived at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 and will be instantly arrested by the UK if he leaves the building. Just-released news that his health is deteriorating rapidly makes even more urgent Ecuadorian action’s even more urgent. 

By S.T. Patrick

As  the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange twists in the political winds, the United States, Great Britain, and Ecuador continue to negotiate over the life of the Australian computer programmer and hacker.

Assange has been housed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. According to one of his lawyers, Assange’s health is suffering and, for the past four months, he has been held in a situation that can be more accurately described as “solitary confinement.” The end of WikiLeaks, as well as Assange’s own version of freedom, may soon be near.

The white-haired Australian, Assange, 47, founded WikiLeaks in 2006, but his presence in the global spotlight dates back to 2010 when he published a series of leaks given to him by U.S. Army soldier Bradley (Chelsea) Manning. The leaks, factual yet damaging to the U.S. military’s public image, prompted a federal criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder. Allied nations were encouraged to do the same.

In November 2010, the Swedish government charged Assange with sexual assault and rape. Assange continued to deny the allegations as a political attack. Concerned about being extradited if he surrendered to Swedish authorities, he surrendered to UK officials in December 2010. He was released 10 days later after posting bail. Sweden dropped the charges in May 2017, yet the real possibility of extradition to the United States remained.

When it became apparent that his extradition challenge would prove unsuccessful, Assange absconded and was granted asylum by the Ecuadorian government in August 2012. He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in December 2017.

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Technically, Assange is not a prisoner of any government. That is the inevitability that he is trying to avoid. He may leave the embassy, but doing so would trigger the execution of an active warrant that still exists in the UK for jumping bail. If arrested, extradition to the United States seems likely.

Time may be at hand for Assange. On July 27, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno admitted that he has been in talks with the British government to revoke the asylum. Moreno had been a detractor of Assange since taking office in May 2017.

“Mr. Assange is a hacker,” Moreno told reporters. “That’s something we reject, and I personally reject.”

An avid tweeter, Assange has been without Internet, phone, and visitation privileges for months after he criticized the British government for claiming that the Kremlin was behind a nerve gas attack on Sergei Skripal, a Russian intelligence officer, in England earlier this year. He had also been punished by Ecuadorian officials for tweeting about the Catalonian independence movement in Spain.

President Donald Trump praised WikiLeaks amidst the 2016 election campaign, and private tweets from Assange show that the phrase “sadistic sociopath” was used in his description of Hillary Clinton. Special counsel Robert Mueller in July indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers of conspiring to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by hacking into the personal and professional email accounts of top Democrats and turning them over to WikiLeaks. Assange has repeatedly denied that the Russian state was the source of the leaks regarding Clinton.

Because there is a clause in the UK-Ecuadorian extradition treaty that bars one country turning citizens over to the other, Assange’s Ecuadorian citizenship may have to be rescinded for extradition to occur.

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A Trump administration that many had assumed would be friendly to Assange has been more critical in recent months.

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted to the media that he would consider bringing criminal charges against Assange.

“We are going to step up our efforts and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” Sessions said. “We will seek to put some people in jail.”

Lords of Secrecy, Scott Horton
Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Warfare, by Scott Horton. Available from AFP.

Former U.S. litigator Glenn Greenwald, founder of “The Intercept” website, believes that extradition to the United States would not be as automatic as is being reported by many news outlets. He calls the British government “subservient” to the United States, yet he points out that the British judges lean more independent. He also points out that the specifics of the U.S.-UK treaty may not allow extradition.

“Political crimes, like publishing documents and engaging in journalism—that really isn’t what extradition is for,” Greenwald said. “And in fact . . . is excluded from most extradition treaties, including the one between the U.S. and the UK.”

Freedom proponents, whistleblowers, libertarians, and government transparency activists all hope that extradition to the United States would eventually lead to a pardon from Trump. If Trump’s first-term maneuvers are any indication, however, that seems unlikely. Trump continues to appoint neoconservatives to key decision-making positions within the administration.

If Assange is extradited to the U.S., it will be a test for Trump. Americans will find out if the independent torch that he so boldly displayed throughout the 2016 campaign is still a reflection of his steadfast beliefs or if it was a façade. For Assange, his life is now in the balance, wavering like the First Amendment freedoms that Americans once thought were constitutionally guaranteed.

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” He would love to hear from readers at He is also an occasional contributor to THE BARNES REVIEW (TBR) history magazine. For a sample copy of TBR, please send $2 to TBR, P.O. Box 15877, Washington, D.C. 20003 with your request. Editor’s choice. To subscribe to TBR magazine, send $56 per year inside the U.S. to above address.

In New Video, Former CIA Analyst Disputes Claim That Russia Hacked DNC

By AFP Staff

In a new video posted to the Internet, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern contends that the Russians did not hack computers at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Instead, he argues, citing evidence from the intelligence committee, it was elements inside the CIA that made copies of emails and other digital content and leaked them.

McGovern was speaking at the Left Forum, North America’s largest gathering of U.S. and international left-wing activists.

The former spook begins by explaining why the CIA hates Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

“In March, there was a leak that WikiLeaks exposed,” said McGovern in the video. “It was a leak based on a contractor for the CIA, who was appalled at the offensive cyber tools that the CIA had developed in connection with NSA.”

McGovern was referring to the leak of Vault 7, which cost the CIA hundreds of millions of dollars and exposed some of the worst cyber tools in the U.S. intelligence community’s arsenal to include software that could take over a car’s computer or ones that facilitated spying.

That leak, he argued, proved that the CIA and NSA have the capabilities to hack into any computer system and then leave breadcrumbs behind, which fool computer investigators into thinking the crime was perpetrated by someone else. Specifically, McGovern said, it was the CIA’s Digital Intelligence Directorate that used a secret system called Marble Network to hack the DNC computers and then left behind the Russian words and the name of a Russian intelligence figure.

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Though he does not know who exactly was behind the leaking of internal DNC documents, he believes it was carried out by someone inside the DNC, who copied them and released them online.

How does he know this? McGovern contends that his colleagues in the watchdog group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, who include former NSA officials, told him this is what happened.

Watch the video above for the details, and don’t forget to tell us what you think in the comments below. Do you believe McGovern, or do you think someone else was behind it?

Will Congress and Trump Declare War on WikiLeaks?

If the Senate Intelligence Committee, in service of the Deep State, has its way, providing truthful information to Americans about their government—or even merely criticizing the welfare-warfare state—will soon be illegal and grounds for shutting down whistle-blowing organizations and websites or potentially even sending out military forces to arrest truth-tellers. WikiLeaks would be just the first of many groups targeted for such treatment, warns Dr. Paul.

By Ron Paul

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently passed its Intelligence Authorization Act for 2018 that contains a chilling attack on the First Amendment. Section 623 of the act expresses the “sense of Congress” that WikiLeaks resembles a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such.” This language is designed to delegitimize WikiLeaks, encourage the federal government to spy on individuals working with WikiLeaks, and block access to WikiLeaks’s website. This provision could even justify sending U.S. forces abroad to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or other WikiLeaks personnel.

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WikiLeaks critics claim that the organization’s leaks harm U.S. national security. However, these critics are unable to provide a single specific example of WikiLeaks’ actions harming the American people. WikiLeaks does harm the reputations of government agencies and politicians, however. For example, earlier this year WikiLeaks released information on the CIA’s hacking program. The leaks did not reveal any details on operations against foreign targets, but they did let the American people know how easy it is for the government to hack into their electronic devices.

For the last year, most of the news surrounding WikiLeaks has centered on its leak of emails showing how prominent Democrats worked to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. In order to deflect attention from these revelations, Democrats, aided by their allies in the media and even some Republicans, promulgated a conspiracy theory blaming the leaks on Russian hackers working to defeat Hillary Clinton. Even though there is no evidence the Russians were behind the leaks, many in both parties are still peddling the “Putin did it” narrative. This aids an effort by the Deep State and its allies in Congress and the media to delegitimize last year’s election, advance a new Cold War with Russia, and criminalize WikiLeaks.

If the government is successful in shutting down WikiLeaks by labeling it a “hostile intelligence service,” it will use this tactic to silence other organizations and websites as well. The goal will be to create a climate of fear to ensure no one dares publish the revelations of a future Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning.

Some have suggested that criticizing police brutality, the surveillance state, the Federal Reserve, or even federal spending aids “hostile foreign powers” by weakening the people’s “trust in government.” This line of reasoning could be used to silence, in the name of “national security,” websites critical of the welfare-warfare state.

By labeling WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” and thus legitimizing government action against the organization, the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act threatens the ability of whistleblowers to inform the public about government misdeeds. It also sets a precedent that could be used to limit other types of free speech.

President Trump should make it clear he will veto any bill giving government new powers to silence organizations like WikiLeaks. If President Trump supports the war on WikiLeaks, after candidate Trump proclaimed his love for WikiLeaks, it will be further proof that he has outsourced his presidency to the Deep State.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, along with notable whistleblowers, foreign policy experts, and leading champions of peace and liberty, will be addressing this important issue at my Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s conference on Saturday, September 9 at the Dulles Airport Marriott Hotel in Dulles, Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. You can get more information about the conference and purchase tickets at the Ron Paul Institute.

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at

WikiLeaker Revealed?

A private detective in Washington, D.C., investigating the unsolved murder last year of DNC staffer Seth Rich, claims to know who leaked Democrats’ emails—and it is not Russia …

By John Friend

New evidence and public testimony is being offered to further substantiate claims that Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer who was mysteriously murdered in Washington, D.C. late last year, provided damaging information to WikiLeaks—not Russia—in an effort to expose corruption in the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The WikiLeaks dumps, released late last year during the heated 2016 election, revealed high-level corruption in the DNC designed to sabotage then-Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton.

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Following the information released by WikiLeaks, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as chairwoman of the DNC, and Mrs. Clinton’s reputation was sullied even further. Clinton supporters, many mainstream media outlets, and virtually all federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies have baselessly alleged Russian agents working at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin were responsible for hacking the DNC and transferring the damaging information to WikiLeaks in an attempt to undermine American democracy and ensure Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Russia has denied these allegations, as has WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and no legitimate evidence has been presented by any federal agency or media outlet to demonstrate the theory Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks dumps.

Now, Rod Wheeler, a retired D.C.-based homicide detective and Fox News contributor, who has been contracted by the Rich family to investigate their son’s mysterious death, has alleged that Rich may be the source of the WikiLeaks dumps.

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“My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” Wheeler recently declared in an interview with Fox News. “I do believe that the answers to who murdered Seth Rich sit on his computer on a shelf at the D.C. police or FBI headquarters.”

Thus far, D.C. police have virtually no leads into Rich’s death and have offered little information about his murder. D.C. police have offered a $25,000 reward for information about Rich’s death, and WikiLeaks has offered a $20,000 reward.

An anonymous federal investigator who has been in contact with both Wheeler and Fox News has also backed up Wheeler’s allegations. The federal investigator has claimed that an FBI forensic report on Rich’s computer, which was conducted shortly after his death, reveal that Rich made contact with WikiLeaks through Gavin MacFadyen, who is now also dead. MacFadyen was a director at WikiLeaks and is a long-time reporter and documentary filmmaker.

“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” the federal official told Fox News. He believes the emails are in the FBI’s possession, but have not been publicly released for political reasons.

According to the federal investigator, “44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between Democratic National Committee leaders, spanning from January 2015 through late May 2016, were transferred from Rich to MacFadyen,” Fox News reported. The damaging WikiLeaks dumps were published on July 22 of last year, a mere 12 days after Rich was murdered.

Rich’s family has downplayed the recent allegations by both Wheeler and the anonymous federal investigator, describing Wheeler’s claims that Rich was WikiLeaks’ source as “unsubstantiated.”

John Friend is a freelance writer who lives in California.