The following is a compendium of tweets dated up until the end of December, all of which are relevant to the Swedish investigation into Julian Assange. They have been drawn from the WL Central Twitter Archive, which is an archive of the tweets from the official Wikileaks Twitter Account. The full archive is available here.
This selection of tweets was compiled to accompany this article.
Today, Huffington Post published an article by Nick Davies, from the Guardian, in response to Bianca Jagger's Huffpost article. Jagger had been critical of Davies' role in the publication in The Guardian of the details from the police investigation report on the allegations against Julian Assange.
In his article today, Davies states that the publication of the details from the police report served the purpose of balancing out baseless speculation about the Swedish investigation. He claims it was necessary in particular to counterbalance a campaign of misinformation on the part of Wikileaks, and Julian Assange. This is very misleading. The substance of the claim is laid out below.
There is no doubt that Wikileaks is under continuous attack: threats from the Pentagon; calls by the old Republican right and the recently empowered Tea Party for a direct attack on what they have called a “terrorist threat”; the renowned boycotts by Paypal, Moneybookers, Amazon and now even Apple; the Australian government’s reticence to defend its citizen (Julian Assange); the rejection of Mr. Assange’s residence in Sweden for unexplained causes, and the list grows.
Now even though many voices have hinted, or even openly declared, that the rape charges against him are just another part of this campaign, because of its sensitive nature it is wiser not to hurry in our conclusions. What is clear though is that the constant irregularities at the heart of the case can make it questionable, which is why many of those voices are worried about the real motivation behind the accusations. Last August, in the middle of the political storm unleashed by the leak in July related to the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Assange was casually dating the liberal politologist and Swedish activist, Anna Ardin. According to her version of the story, he would have forced her sexually on the night of the 14th of that month, pressing charges around a week later.
I object to the Guardian's decision to publish selective passages from the Swedish police report, whilst omitting exculpatory evidence contained in the document. ...
Assange has been criticized for not being willing to return to Sweden to prove his innocence. It is hardly surprising he has reservations, given Sweden's human rights record. ...
In the Today Show on December 21st, Assange revealed that Sweden has requested that if he returns and is arrested, he is to be held incommunicado, and his Swedish lawyer is to be given a gag order. ...
I suspect that what is on trial here is not Julian Assange's alleged sexual misconduct, but freedom of speech ....
Julian Assange said today that it would be "politically impossible" for Britain to extradite him to the United States, and that the final word on his fate if he were charged with espionage would rest with David Cameron.
In an interview with the Guardian in Ellingham Hall, the Norfolk country mansion where he is living under virtual house arrest, the founder of WikiLeaks said it would be difficult for the prime minister to hand him over to the Americans if there was strong support for him from the British people.
"It's all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence UK political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor," he said.
Following the Crown Prosecution Service's decision to appeal the bail granted on Tuesday by the Westminster Magistrates' Court, another hearing will take place today at 11:30 GMT at the High Court.
Peter Alexander of NBC News noted on Twitter that "Assange lawyer says defense has collected $315K bail. He's free if appeal's denied." The court had requested on Tuesday that the full bail amount be presented in cash.
Journalists present at the court, including a team from The Guardian, report that Julian Assange and his legal team have already arrived at the court for the hearing, which is expected to take two hours. It is unclear at this point whether live updates via Twitter will be allowed from the courtroom, as was the case at Tuesday's hearing.
Update 1: Justice Ouseley has ruled that no Twitter updates will be allowed from the courtroom today, reports The Guardian's Luke Harding.
Update 2: The Guardian's Luke Harding quoted Justice Ouseley as saying, "The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial." According to Mr Harding, "the case is looking good" for Julian Assange.
Update 3: The prosecution's appeal has been denied, reports Channel 4. Julian Assange has been granted bail, on slightly modified conditions compared to those specified at Tuesday's hearing, namely additional sureties, reports Guy Rundle for Crikey.
The next extradition hearing will take place on January 11.
According to testimony at Tuesday's hearing, Julian Assange will stay at the estate of Captain Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club. You can read Mr Smith's exclusive piece in yesterday's Independent, explaining his support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, concluding: "If to fight for this country we will have to fight for its fundamental principles of justice then I declare my position in the ranks."
Update 4: Guy Rundle reports that hearing costs have been awarded against the Crown Prosecution Service.
Update 5: After the formalities were completed, Julian Assange was released today at 6pm London time. He gave a short speech on the steps of the High Court, thanking supporters, his lawyers, members of the press "who were not all taken in," and the British justice system. He called on people to support those facing conditions harder than he did in prison, and promised to continue his work and reveal the evidence behind the allegations.
A video of the statement is available via the New York Times.
Human Rights Watch has published a letter to President Barack Obama, urging the US administration not to prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in conjunction with the publication of the Cablegate documents:
WikiLeaks Publishers Should Not Face Prosecution
Letter to President Barack Obama
December 15, 2010
Dear President Obama:
We write to express our concern at the prospect that the US government would employ espionage laws against WikiLeaks or its founder for the release of US State Department cables. Regardless of how one views the intentions, wisdom or strict legality of the WikiLeaks release, we believe that resorting to prosecution will degrade freedom of expression for all media, researchers and reporters, and set a terrible precedent that will be eagerly grasped by other governments, particularly those with a record of trying to muzzle legitimate political reporting.
Both international law and the US Constitution prohibit criminal punishment of those who report matters of public interest except in fairly narrow circumstances. One such situation would be the release of official secrets with the effect and intent of harming the security of a nation, in the sense of genuine threats to use force against the government or territorial integrity of a country. Diplomatic embarrassment, though potentially detrimental to the interests of the government, is not itself a threat to national security. Indeed, the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, rejected "overwrought" descriptions of the release's impact and described the effect on foreign policy as "fairly modest," a characterization that finds support in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks that "I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with, and discuss matters of importance to us both, going forward."
Even if some cognizable security threat were to be presented by a cable (only half of which are classified, and of those, most classified at low levels of sensitivity), it would be both unwise and of questionable legality to use the 1917 Espionage Act against WikiLeaks or other media who receive or republish information leaked by government employees. A distinguishing characteristic of the United States has always been its high standard of protection for speech. This leadership would be lost if the administration were to reverse the usual practice of pursuing only those who leak information and not those who receive it.
For the same reason, we urge you to reject legislative proposals that would broaden the scope of criminal sanction beyond that permitted by the Constitution and international human rights law to which the US is party. Instead, we urge you to pursue the declassification of information that is of public interest and not essential to national security, rather than to expand the scope of information subject to classification.
Once classified information is released to the public, particularly through means of mass circulation such as the Internet, a very strong presumption should attach that further restriction is unwarranted. Indeed, efforts to remove WikiLeaks and other websites from global accessibility have largely backfired by promoting mirror sites and further circulation. We note with concern government agency directives, such as that issued by the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget, warning employees from accessing the classified materials that have already been published to the world on numerous websites, and reports that the Library of Congress has consequently blocked access to the WikiLeaks site. By asking people to ignore what has become widely known, such directives look ridiculous, invite widespread disobedience, and place federal employees at risk of arbitrary discipline and prosecution. Over-interpreting the 1917 Espionage Act to authorize prosecution of non-government agents who simply receive and publish leaked classified information could have similar chilling results. By that token, not only could the news media who republish the disclosed information be prosecuted, but so could all who download and read the material.
The United States government and the Department of State in particular, has been an outspoken champion of Internet freedom globally, and condemned national "firewalls" and censorship of Internet sites. To maintain its credibility, we urge you to affirm that your administration will not seek to bar services to Internet publishers, or take down websites, merely because they have published material that the government believes should not be publicly available. We also believe it is important for the administration to affirm that it will not seek to pressure or influence any private enterprise to block or undermine any such website in the absence of a legal judgment. Human Rights Watch is very concerned by private companies' denial of services to WikiLeaks in the absence of any showing that any of its publications can legitimately be restricted consistent with the international right to freedom of expression.
This is a signature moment for freedom of expression, a value that the United States has defended vigorously throughout its history, at home and abroad. Human Rights Watch urges your administration to act positively to secure the rights of the media in a democratic society, and the record of the United States as a champion of speech.
Human Rights Watch
Lawfare: Problems with the Espionage Act
The law also has two additional problems that receive relatively little attention but which are important in contemplating its use. The first is that it contains no limiting principle in its apparent criminalization of secondary transmissions of proscribed material. ...
By its terms, it criminalizes not merely the disclosure of national defense information by organizations such as Wikileaks, but also the reporting on that information by countless news organizations. It also criminalizes all casual discussions of such disclosures by persons not authorized to receive them to other persons not authorized to receive them–in other words, all tweets sending around those countless news stories, all blogging on them, and all dinner party conversations about their contents. Taken at its word, the Espionage Act makes felons of us all. As long as this deficiency remains, it will be a poor instrument against an outlet like Wikileaks, precisely because there will be no way in principle to distinguish between the prosecution of Assange and the prosecution of just about anyone else–from the New York Times to the guy on the street who reads the newspaper and talks about it. That will make Espionage Act prosecutions seem like far more of a menace to legitimate speech than would a prosecution under a better-drawn law. There are ways to fix this problem–an intent element and a clear limitation to material not already made public would be a start–but as long as it goes unfixed, I oppose any prosecutions under it for secondary transmissions.
The second problem is that the statute, by its clear terms, does not cover the overwhelming bulk of the material that Wikileaks disclosed. The Espionage Act is not a general bar against leaking or publishing classified information. It covers only material “relating to the national defense.”
Lawfare: Seven Thoughts on Wikileaks
But as all the hand-wringing over the 1917 Espionage Act shows, it is not obvious what law he has violated. It is also important to remember, to paraphrase Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch.
The Hill: Judiciary panel to take up Espionage Act, legal options against WikiLeaks
The Judiciary Committee will be looking at the World War I-era Espionage Act and the "legal and constitutional issues raised by WikiLeaks," as directed by Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.).
It will be the first congressional hearing on WikiLeaks since the Nov. 28 publication of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, some of which have proven embarrassing to the U.S. government because of their frank tone. The witness list was not yet available.
Incoming Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) also vowed to conduct hearings when he takes the gavel in the new Congress.
But the Justice Department is proceeding with caution: Most experts agree the case crosses into new legal territory where there is little certainty.
Julian Assange Bail Appeal Trial
Julian Assange appeared in court this morning to appeal the court's decision last week to deny him a release on bail. Live updates were provided by The Guardian. and live tweeting in the court on the #wikitrial hashtag. It was apparently the first time a UK judge had allowed live tweeting during a trial (according to tweets).
An earlier article in The Guardian stated:
Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens visited him in Wandsworth prison yesterday afternoon and said his client was being held under harsher conditions than last week. He claimed Assange was being confined to his cell for all but half an hour a day, and denied association with others prisoners, access to the library or TV.
"He's subject to the most ridiculous censorship," Stephens said. "Time magazine sent him a copy of the magazine with him on the cover and they censored it not just by ripping off the cover but by destroying the whole magazine."
Stephens also claimed a number of letters to Assange from media organisations have not reached him. He said Assange was under 24-hour video surveillance and had complained that a tooth which broke off while he was eating had later been stolen from his cell.
According to Stephens, Assange's UK legal team had still not seen the prosecution evidence against him. "His Swedish lawyers have some of the material but not all and it's in Swedish so we can't take proper instructions."
Besides the lack of evidence provided by the Swedish prosecution, a key point is the fact that the crime Assange is accused of is not a crime in the UK. For extradition to go forward, the crime must be of a serious nature in both countries. This time, Assange's lawyers also offered a permanent address in England and suggested electronic monitoring, a curfew and travel restrictions as alternatives to incarceration. Over £200,000 was offered in surety for bail and ten international public figures also offered surety.
The appeal was granted with the following conditions:
Assange's counsel pointed out that it was a huge bail amount to be paid in cash, and Assange did not have the option of using Mastercard or Visa. The prosecution immediately appealed the decision, so Assange was taken back to jail to await the appeal trial which must be held within 48 hours. More information can be found here.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer, Björn Hurtig, said that he had seen police documents that prove Mr Assange is innocent, and that the accusers had a "hidden agenda" when they went to the police:
"From what I have read, it is clear that the women are lying and that they had an agenda when they went to the police, which had nothing to do with a crime having taken place. It was, I believe, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had very big expectations for something to happen with Julian."
He has asked for the Swedish prosecutor's permission to disclose the evidence: "If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade," he said. "If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point. But at the moment I'm bound by the rules of the Swedish legal system, which say that the information can only be used as evidence in this country. For me to do otherwise would lead to me being disbarred."
Mr Hurtig added that he was ready to fly to London and present the evidence at the court hearing this Tuesday, if he was given permission. "That said, I’m convinced that as soon as the case is heard in Sweden it will be thrown out," he added.
You can read the full interview here.
Also, please do not miss Australian lawyer Peter Kemp's new post on the Swedish law and its implications in this case: Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse, But...., and part one of his analysis of the extradition case: Extradition Part 1.
(Part one of this series is available here. Please also see WikiLeaks v. United States: The Pentagon Papers redux?)
Today, Jennifer Robinson, one of the lawyers for Julian Assange, told The Guardian that the US government may be about to press charges against Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. She said that the legal team had heard from "several different US lawyers rumours that an indictment was on its way or had happened already, but we don't know". Ms Robinson told ABC News that "Our position of course is that we don't believe it (the Espionage Act) applies to Mr. Assange and that in any event he's entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of Wikileaks and any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S."
Rumours about the possibility of Julian Assange having been indicted by a grand jury, whose proceedings are secret, have been circulating for a while. The Christian Science Monitor had a few days ago quoted Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law at American University, who said that an empaneled grand jury could have already been considering the case. "We wouldn’t know what they’re doing until the whole thing is concluded," he said. The Monitor also quoted CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin, who said "I would not be at all surprised if there was a sealed arrest warrant currently in existence."
John Pilger: Statement in support of Sydney rally
"The defence of Julian Assange and Wikileaks is one of the most important issues of my lifetime. There are now two superpowers in the world — the military power of Washington and the power of public opinion and justice, which Wikileaks represents.
If the Australian prime minister doesn’t understand this, we Australians need to remind her that she may head a mercenary government but we are not a mercenary people.
Those of us in London who are working to free Julian, knowing that the Swedish prosecution is a political stunt that would never produce a fair trial, will be at his side, and we call on the support of every decent Australian."
Robert Scheer, TruthDig: From Jefferson to Assange
"All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange “to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.”[...]
Jennifer Robinson, one of Julian Assange's lawyers, was interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now!. Regarding the charges, she clarified that "the first thing to note is that no formal charges have yet been brought" and that the warrant is "in relation to the allegations, not formal charges, and is for the purposes of having him give his interview and answers to the questions of the prosecutor."
She reiterated that Julian Assange had cooperated with the investigation throughout, and that there was absolutely no need for an arrest warrant to be issued for an interview. He had remained in Sweden for more than a month and a half to answer the allegations and police questions, and he left the country with the prosecutor's permission. She added: "Since leaving the country, he has been in touch with her. And indeed, the judge noted yesterday that I had written to the police to notify them here in Britain that we were aware that an arrest warrant may be communicated and that we were willing to cooperate. The judge noted that this was a very positive sign. Julian has, at all stages, cooperated. We have volunteered cooperation to the prosecutor."
Julian Assange and his legal team have not been presented yet with any of the evidence of the allegations against him, she noted, despite the fact that this contravenes the European Convention. "The first document we have received in English, which is her obligation under that convention, with respect to Mr. Assange, was Monday, when we received the arrest warrant, and there was a very short notation of the offenses and the basic facts underlying those offenses. So, as to any earlier correspondence between the complainants and Julian and their motivation for going to the police, we only know what we’ve been able to read in the press, which is a highly unsatisfactory position to be in."
The London Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Julian Assange was arrested this morning on behalf of the Swedish authorities, reports The Guardian: "Julian Assange, 39, was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30am."
The statement notes that he is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today.
"As of last night Assange had still not been told of the full allegations against him, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson explained in a Guardian video to be released soon," notes The Guardian.
WL Central would like to ask all of our readers to support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. You can donate to WikiLeaks to help with legal costs, speak up in support, contact your elected representatives and ask them to uphold Julian Assange's rights, join a protest.
If Julian Assange can be silenced, so can every one of us. Stand up, speak up: for him, for yourself, for all of us. Before it's too late.
Update 1: Jennifer Robinson's video statement is now available on the Guardian site.
Update 2: Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Associated Press that Julian Assange's arrest is an attack on media freedom and that it won't prevent the organization from spilling secrets on the web.
The ITV's Keir Simmons said on Twitter that Julian Assange will appear in court at 2pm London time according to a court source.
The Guardian reported that, after the new European Arrest Warrant had been received by SOCA, Julian Assange's lawyers were in talks with the police to arrange a meeting:
"Jennifer Robinson, a solicitor with Finers Stephens Innocent which represents the Australian freedom of information campaigner, told the Guardian: 'We have a received an arrest warrant [related to claims in Sweden]. We are negotiating a meeting with police.'
Another lawyer representing Assange, Mark Stephens, added: 'He has not been charged with anything. We are in the process of making arrangements to meet the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer that is needed ... It's about time we got to the end of the day and we got some truth, justice and rule of law.'"
While there have been reports that Julian Assange would appear before a UK court tomorrow in order to negotiate bail, The Australian quotes Mark Stephens saying: "I haven't arranged any court hearing for tomorrow. I'm still in the midst of my discussions about how this is going to work. Nothing has been agreed definitively. There is discussion of meeting up with police but we haven't got to that point yet. Schedules have to be worked out. Their team has to be ready and we have to be ready. They have ten days to act on this warrant so there is time."
Stephens went on to reiterate that "Their request is to interview Julian Assange - he's not been charged with anything - and we are in the process of making arrangements to meet with the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer."
In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, lawyer Mark Stephens said:
"In Sweden it's quite bizarre though, because the chief prosecutor, the director of public prosecution in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to face, back in September. And then, a few weeks ago, after the intervention of a Swedish politician, a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm, where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case, which of course has resulted in these warrants and of course the Interpol red notice being put out across this week.
It does seem to be a political stunt, I mean, I have, and his Swedish lawyer, have been trying to get in touch with the prosecutors since August. Now, usually, it's the prosecutor who does the pursuing, not the pursued. And in this particular case, Julian Assange has tried to vindicate himself, has tried to meet with the prosecutors, to have his good name restored."
He remarked that "A warrant was issued on Thursday by reports. We've asked for it. We've been ignored at this point," adding that "He's only wanted for interview, why not have that interview by consent, rather than this show trial?"
He also talked about the calls for assassination coming from "credible sources around the world," and particularly the United States, including people as high up as Sarah Palin. He said that Julian Assange would certainly fight deportation to Sweden on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.
The ACLU has released a statement by Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:
“We’re deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional, or a good idea. The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. Prosecuting WikiLeaks would be no different from prosecuting the media outlets that also published classified documents. If newspapers could be held criminally liable for publishing leaked information about government practices, we might never have found out about the CIA’s secret prisons or the government spying on innocent Americans. Prosecuting publishers of classified information threatens investigative journalism that is necessary to an informed public debate about government conduct, and that is an unthinkable outcome.
“The broader lesson of the WikiLeaks phenomenon is that President Obama should recommit to the ideals of transparency he invoked at the beginning of his presidency. The American public should not have to depend on leaks to the news media and on whistleblowers to know what the government is up to.”
The Sweden Supreme Court has declined today to consider the appeal request filed on behalf of Julian Assange against the arrest warrant previously issued, reports Dagens Nyheter, quoting case handler Kerstin Norman.
This would leave the current warrant standing.
Update 1: The Court's statement says that a review would only be granted if it is essential to the interpretation of the law, or in exceptional circumstances, when there is a "serious reason" for Supreme Court involvement. The Court has not found this to be the case, according to Aftonbladet.
We are to understand that evidence of false charges and prosecutorial misconduct does not constitute a sufficiently serious reason for the Supreme Court to grant a review. The Swedish justice system has failed, again.
WL Central would like to reiterate our support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and we ask you to do the same. Here are some ways to help.
Update 2: Jennifer Robinson, a UK-based lawyer for Julian Assange, gave a live interview on Democracy Now! earlier today. She said that Assange had not been formally charged and that he was not evading arrest, as some had suggested, but that he kept his location confidential because of genuine concerns over his safety. Robinson said that calls for his assassination (see some examples) are outrageous and illegal, and that those making such statements should be prosecuted for inciting violence. She also noted that there were serious due process problems related to the conduct of the Swedish prosecutors, and that in view of statements like those of Sarah Palin, there are real concerns over whether Assange would get a fair trial in the US, should he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Robinson mentioned that US lawyers were involved in consultations over the Espionage Act, but that in her opinion the WikiLeaks disclosures fall under the protection of the First Amendment.
"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has confirmed that the Justice Department is examining whether Mr. Assange could be charged with a crime, but legal scholars say that such an effort would encounter steep legal and policy difficulties," writes Charlie Savage in the New York Times.
“The government has never brought an Espionage Act prosecution that would look remotely like this one,” law professor Stephen I. Vladeck told Savage. “I suspect that has a lot to do with why nothing has happened yet.”
"A relic of World War I, the Espionage Act was written before a series of Supreme Court rulings expanded the First Amendment’s protection of speech and press freedoms. The court has not reviewed the law’s constitutionality in light of those decisions," continues Savage. He points to a 2005 case which "ended in embarrassment" for the government because it could not prove that the accused "specifically intended to harm the United States or benefit a foreign country."
“If you could show that [Assange] specifically conspired with a government person to leak the material, that puts him in a different position than if he is the recipient of an anonymous contribution. If he’s just providing a portal for information that shows up, he’s very much like a journalist,” said Jack M. Balkin, a Yale professor of constitutional law.
Reuters' Mark Hosenball writes that "U.S. authorities could face insurmountable legal hurdles if they try to bring criminal charges against" Assange. "Three specialists in espionage law said prosecuting someone like Assange on those charges would require evidence the defendant was not only in contact with representatives of a foreign power but also intended to provide them with secrets. No such evidence has surfaced, or has even been alleged, in the case of WikiLeaks or Assange."
Reuters quotes Mark Zaid, a defense lawyer who specializes in intelligence cases, saying it would be "very difficult for the U.S. government to prosecute (Assange) in the U.S. for what he is doing."
"Joseph DiGenova, a former U.S. Attorney in Washington who prosecuted high-profile espionage cases, said that federal authorities would face "pretty tough" legal obstacles if they tried to bring a prosecution against Assange. But he said officials like Holder had to make threats of prosecution, even if they lack legal substance, to "send a signal" to other would-be leakers."
Trevor Timm of the New York Law School has already made the case last month that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have committed no crime in publishing such information.
London-based lawyer Mark Stephens spoke with The Guardian:
"Comparing the Swedish prosecutor to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief, Mark Stephens said "neither Mr Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press."
He continued: "This appears to be a persecution and a prosecution. It is highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a red notice in the teeth of the undisputed fact that Mr Assange has agreed to meet voluntarily to answer the prosecutor's questions. Mr Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the prosecutrix – both in Sweden and subsequently – in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr Assange sought permission from the prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr Assange has continued to seek meetings with the prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."
He added: "At this point in time, we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation – indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations.