Foreign and Defense Policy, Terrorism

Administration Asks Allies to Seek Criminal Charges against WikiLeaks, Assange

handcuffs

The Justice Department is reportedly considering (and may in fact have already filed) a criminal indictment against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Now, the Daily Beast reports, the administration is asking America’s allies to do the same:

The Obama administration is pressing Britain, Germany, Australia, and other allied Western governments to consider opening criminal investigations of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and to severely limit his nomadic travels across international borders, American officials say.

Officials tell The Daily Beast that the U.S. effort reflects a growing belief that WikiLeaks and organizations like it threaten grave damage to American national security, as well as a growing suspicion in Washington that Assange has damaged his own standing with foreign governments and organizations that might otherwise be sympathetic to his anti-censorship cause.

American officials confirmed last month that the Justice Department was weighing a range of criminal charges against Assange and others as a result of the massive leaking of classified U.S. military reports from the war in Afghanistan, including potential violations of the Espionage Act by Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst in Iraq accused of providing the documents to WikiLeaks.

Now, the officials say, they want other foreign governments to consider the same sorts of criminal charges.

“It’s not just our troops that are put in jeopardy by this leaking,” said an American diplomatic official who is involved in responding to the aftermath of the release of more than 70,000 Afghanistan war logs—and WikiLeaks’ threat to reveal 15,000 more of the classified reports.

“It’s U.K. troops, it’s German troops, it’s Australian troops—all of the NATO troops and foreign forces working together in Afghanistan,” he said. Their governments, he said, should follow the lead of the Justice Department and “review whether the actions of WikiLeaks could constitute crimes under their own national-security laws.”

The idea that Assange is not a journalist, but the leader of a criminal enterprise, is gaining steam—and the noose is tightening around the WikiLeaks founder.

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