DOJ Moving Ahead With Its Attempt To Prosecute Julian Assange; Subpoenas Chelsea Manning

DOJ Moving Ahead With Its Attempt To Prosecute Julian Assange; Subpoenas Chelsea Manning

Tim Cushing | TechDirt | Source URL

The DOJ is still moving ahead with its plan to attack free speech protections. More than eight years in the making, the attempted prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing leaked documents forges ahead slowly, threatening every journalist in its path.

Wikileaks isn't the only entity to publish leaked documents or shield their source. Multiple US press entities have done the same thing over the years. It seems the DOJ feels it's ok to go after Assange and Wikileaks because it's not a US newspaper. But once you set foot on a slope this slippery, it's pretty tough to regain your footing -- especially when the Executive Branch has housed people hellbent on eliminating leakers and whistleblowers for most of the last 20 years.

It appears the government wants Chelsea Manning to testify about her relationship with Wikileaks and Julian Assange. The demand Manning received may be deliberately vague, but it's pretty easy to connect the dots, as Charlie Savage does for the New York Times.

The subpoena does not say what prosecutors intend to ask her about. But it was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia and comes after prosecutors inadvertently disclosed in November that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been charged under seal in that district.

Ms. Manning, who provided a copy of the subpoena to The New York Times, said that her legal team would file a motion on Friday to quash it, arguing that it would violate her constitutional rights to force her to appear. She declined to say whether she would cooperate if that failed.

It would seem like Manning already cooperated when she was being prosecuted. During that hearing, she took full responsibility for her actions and stated Wikileaks/Assange did not direct her actions. But if the DOJ can't get Manning to talk, it apparently has other options.

A former WikiLeaks volunteer who was also personal friends with Manning was subpoenaed last May. But unlike Manning, he did not fight the subpoena. He accepted an immunity deal offered by prosecutors.

It’s the second person in Assange’s broader orbit publicly known to have cooperated with prosecutors in their nearly decade-long pursuit of WikiLeaks.

The former volunteer is David House. House has been subpoenaed twice, according to The Daily Beast's Kevin Poulsen. House was uncooperative with the first, but far more accommodating the second time around, after being granted immunity for testifying.

House spoke brffjfsdaiefly with prosecutors and then testified for about 90 minutes in front of the grand jury, he said. “They wanted to know about my meetings with Assange, they wanted to know broadly about what we talked about,” he recalled. Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks.

If the DOJ is really going to re-litigate the harms of Manning's leaks, it might want to refresh its memory about the damage they did. A classified Defense Department report said the leaked docs did no serious damage to personnel or American interests. This reiterated findings by the US military dating all the way back to 2013 which said the same thing: no Americans were harmed or killed as a result of the leaks. Unfortunately, the reality we're faced with is this: the DOJ is threatening First Amendment protections over some hurt feelings and embarrassment.f

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