WikiLeaks Week 3: Julian Assange Out on Bail

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN, and Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS: WIKILEAKS SCANDAL

  • Bank of America Suspends Payments to WikiLeaks: In a sign of the increasing tensions between WikiLeaks and the corporate world, Bank of America has said it will no longer help process payments for the organization, which released a huge cache of secret State Department cables in late November and has threatened to “take down” a major United States bank with another data dump.
    “Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks,” the bank said in a statement issued on Friday. “This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.” In a Twitter post put up soon after Bank of America’s announcement, WikiLeaks called on supporters to boycott the bank, urging that “all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America.”…. – NYT, 12-18-10
  • Pro-WikiLeaks hackers may be hard for U.S. to pursue: Legal hurdles could make it tough for U.S. prosecutors to go after pro-WikiLeaks hackers who waged cyber attacks last week on Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and other companies. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week he was “looking into” it but there are enormous challenges finding, moving, investigating and finally convicting those the United States might accuse. Typically the federal government prosecutes hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits the “transmission of a program, information, code, or command” that “intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer.” It’s a broad, powerful statute that applies even to computer crime committed abroad, and can carry prison sentences and heavy fines. But to use it, authorities will first have to locate the elusive hackers and bring them to the United States…. – Reuters, 12-18-10
  • Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks’ Alleged Leaker, ‘Very Annoyed’ At Solitary Confinement: Detained U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning’s supporters went public with their concerns about the harsh conditions of his imprisonment — he has no access to exercise or even a pillow and bedsheets during his solitary confinement — only after their complaints to the military over several months went unheeded. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald reported on Wednesday, Manning, who has been accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of any crime but has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico “under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.”
    “We were aware of those situations and we were hoping that they would improve without applying public pressure through the media,” Jeff Paterson, who runs Manning’s legal defense fund, told The Huffington Post. “His attorney and supporters were hoping that this could be taken care of through the appropriate channels.”
    Paterson says that Manning is “very annoyed” at the conditions of his confinement, adding that he is primarily upset at his inability to exercise. “He sits in this small box, for the most part only to take a shower – he just sits and eats and four months have gone by.”… – Huff Post, 12-15-10
  • Julian Assange freed on bail: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerges from high court and is driven away to backer’s country estate. With a smile and a short statement of quiet defiance, Julian Assange tonight walked free from custody and into the kind of media scrum more commonly seen after a decades-long prison sentence, rather than nine days on remand. This was the third hearing in as many weeks relating to the WikiLeaks founder’s bail application over sex assault charges against two Swedish women, for which his extradition is being sought, and is unlikely to be the last before the allegations, which he denies, are resolved…. – Guardian UK, 12-16-10
  • Julian Assange bail decision made by UK authorities, not Sweden: Swedish prosecutor’s office says it has ‘not got a view at all on bail’ and that Britain made decision to oppose it
    The decision to have Julian Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden, as previously thought, the Guardian has learned. The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the WikiLeaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.
    It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor’s office told the Guardian it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail…. – Guardian UK, 12-15-10
  • Court costs strain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s finances: Julian Assange might be freed tomorrow but an extradition battle with Sweden looms and his legal bill is growing. If, as seems likely, Julian Assange walks free from the high court tomorrow, his triumph will be a brief one. As well as a looming extradition battle with Sweden, he faces a familiar headache known to defendants everywhere: how to pay his lawyers? Since his dramatic arrest last week, and incarceration in Wandsworth jail, Assange’s legal bill has been growing. In theory, the founder of WikiLeaks is sitting on a pile of cash. But currently all his bank accounts are frozen. And his legal costs are separate from donations to WikiLeaks, which since October 2009 have reached €900,000 (£770,000). Today Assange’s lawyers said they were trying to organise a legal defence fund to pay for his bills, including ones he is likely to incur in his extradition hearing in February…. — Guardian UK, 12-15-10
  • Release on Bail of WikiLeaks Founder Is Delayed by Appeal: Julian Assange, the jailed founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, was ordered freed on $315,000 bail on Tuesday but remained at least temporarily in custody awaiting a final decision on whether he will be extradited to Sweden over allegations of sexual offenses against two women.
    Protesters demonstrated outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court, where Julian Assange attended a bail hearing on Tuesday.
    Mr. Assange was driven back to Wandsworth Prison in London on Tuesday night, past cheering and whistling supporters and scores of flashbulbs, pending an appeal of the bail ruling by the Swedish authorities, which must be heard at Britain’s High Court within the next 48 hours.
    Judge Howard Riddle, presiding over a packed and rapt courtroom at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in Central London, said that his decision to jail Mr. Assange as a “serious flight risk” at an initial hearing on Dec. 7 was “marginal” and that, with conditions, Mr. Assange should now be freed until further proceedings on Jan. 11.
    Judge Riddle was swayed Tuesday, he told the court, when a friend of Mr. Assange offered to allow him to stay at a lavish country mansion in Sussex, an hour away from London. Mr. Assange, according to conditions the judge laid out, must spend every night at the mansion, Ellingham Hall, a 10-bedroom home on a 650-acre estate owned by Vaughan Smith, the wealthy founder of a journalists’ club in London…. – NYT, 12-15-10
  • Swedish Prosecutor Raises Possible Extradition of WikiLeaks Founder to U.S.: A Swedish prosecutor raised the possibility that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could eventually be extradited to the United States in a statement posted online on Tuesday. Marianne Ny, the Swedish prosecutor who asked British authorities to detain Mr. Assange and send him to Sweden for questioning about possible sex crimes, discussed the possibility of sending him to the United States in a statement posted on the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s Web site on Tuesday. Perhaps prompted by speculation that Mr. Assange might be indicted by a grand jury meeting in secret in the United States to consider charges against him related to the publication of leaked American military and diplomatic documents, one section of the Swedish prosecutor’s statement, under the heading, “Facts About Extradition of a Person Who Has Been Surrendered,” reads…. – NYT, 12-14-10
  • WikiLeaks Founder’s Statement From Prison: My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them. If anything this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct.
    We now know that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It’s not something we knew before. I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks. – NYT, 12-14-10
  • Poll: Almost half of Britons feel WikiLeaks sex charges are “excuse”: Almost half of Britons believe that the sex charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are “an excuse” to keep him in custody so that the US government can prosecute him for releasing secret diplomatic cables, … CNN, 12-13-10
  • US grand jury works on Assange charges: lawyer: Julian Assange’s British attorney, Mark Stephens, said Monday a secret US grand jury had been set up in Virginia to work on charges that could be filed against the WikiLeaks founder.
    Stephens said in an interview with Al Jazeera, citing unnamed Swedish authorities, that “there has been a secretly impaneled grand jury in Alexandria,” Virginia, just outside Washington.
    If the report proves true, it could mean an indictment of Assange is possible. The Australian Assange became the world’s most wanted man after he dumped to several media 250,000 US diplomatic cables in late November. So far, 1,300 have been published. He is currently being held in Britain on sex assault claims in Sweden which is seeking his extradition.
    But according to Stephens, “we understand that if it comes to Sweden they will defer their interest in him to the Americans. That shows some level of collusion and embarrassment,” he stressed.
    The 39-year-old Australian will appear in court in London for a second time Tuesday where his lawyers will make a second application for bail. He faces allegations of sexual assault and rape made against him in Sweden…. – AFP, 12-13-10
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