Jennifer Robinson – March 1, 2012
“Indicting Assange represents a dramatic assault on the First Amendment, journalists and the public right to know.” Photo: AP
WikiLeaks’s latest release of confidential emails obtained from the US private intelligence firm Stratfor indicate the US Department of Justice has issued a secret, sealed indictment against Julian Assange. While the Department of Justice has refused to confirm the existence of the Assange indictment – it refuses to comment upon any alleged sealed indictment – the Stratfor email is the best confirmation we have of the long-stated concerns about the risk of Assange’s extradition to the US to face criminal prosecution for his publishing activities with WikiLeaks.
The email was from Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice-president for counterterrorism and corporate security, and former deputy chief of the Department of State’s counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service. On Australia Day last year, Burton revealed in internal Stratfor correspondence: ”Not for Pub – We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”
Following the announcement by the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder, of criminal investigation into Assange in December 2010, the US government has refused to give further comment on its plans to prosecute him. The grand jury is secret. Our appeals to military courts for access to the Bradley Manning proceedings were denied. The Australian government has consistently claimed to have no information from the US as to whether they will prosecute Assange and seek his extradition.