Federal Judge Unseals Criminal Complaint Against Julian Assange, But Is It Enough For Conspiracy?
A federal judge ordered a 2017 criminal complaint lodged by federal investigators against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange unsealed on Monday, giving Americans their first glimpse at the evidence the United States will likely bring to an early June hearing in the U.K. demanding Assange’s extradition.
According to The Hill, the original affidavit and criminal complaint were made public in a Virginia federal court for the first time since they were filed in 2017, and they include chat logs between Assange and former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Assange was arrested last week in London at the request of U.S. authorities, after the Ecuadorian government decided to stop allowing Assange to remain in their U.K. embassy. The Justice Department later unsealed its indictment against the WikiLeaks founder.
The U.S. is alleging that Assange sought to help Manning crack a password in order to access a Defense Department network where classified information was stored. They point to chat logs allegedly documenting communication between the two individuals as evidence of the conspiracy.
The Daily Wire reported that chat logs, contained in the affidavit, Assange certainly appears to be passing on his code-cracking expertise to Manning, and passing on advice on how to break into secure networks, like the one Manning was scanning for evidence that the U.S. military was actively harming the Iraqi people. But the affidavit doesn’t show that Manning and Assange had a specific target in mind — or, at least, the chat logs don’t list one, and it’s unknown whether Manning eventually used Assange’s advice to successfully crack a secure network.
The complaint says that “it remains unknown whether Manning and Assange were successful in cracking the password,” but Manning was, indeed, eventually convicted on several counts under the Espionage Act for obtaining and disseminating classified material.
Whether this is enough to extradite Assange will be up to a court in the United Kingdom, which will entertain evidence that Assange should be shipped back to the United States to stand trial sometime in early June. It’s likely the court will also consider a competing request for extradition from Sweden, where Assange is wanted on sexual assault charges.
Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum on Thursday and he was promptly dragged out of the Embassy by British police and arrested for violating his bail conditions, for which he could face up to a year in jail.
He also faces possible extradition to the United States after it was announced on Thursday that the government is charging Assange with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion amid claims that he worked with Chelsea Manning to hack Department of Defense computers, leading to what the DOJ has called “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”