2013-11-29 WikiLeaks Calls for US to Drop Grand Jury

Friday 29 November 2013, 12:00 GMT

In the face of the US government's three-year attack on WikiLeaks, an anonymous Department of Justice official talking to the Washington Post now claims that there is little possibility of prosecuting Julian Assange for publishing, but that a Grand Jury remains empanelled and the situation may change. So, we have a much-hedged statement by someone who cannot be identified claiming that the government may not indict Julian Assange for publishing. This is hardly the assurance that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange need. It is hardly the assurance that others who seek to reveal material that might offend the government need to carry on their activities. The damage to a free press by this heavy-handed, unwarranted and continued investigation into a publisher is severe.

The anonymous assertion that Julian Assange may not be indicted for publication of classified documents, even if true, only deals with a small part of the grand jury investigation. That investigation has been primarily concerned with trying to prove somehow that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were involved, not merely in publication, but in a conspiracy with their sources. There is also the question as to the status of the DoJ investigations into WikiLeaks involvement in the Stratfor and Snowden matters.

For three years WikiLeaks and its publisher and founder Julian Assange have faced an unprecedented and wide-ranging Grand Jury investigation into its publishing and sourcing activities, with claims that somehow these activities might constitute a conspiracy to commit espionage, theft or access violations. That investigation, which has involved paid informers, unlawful interrogations in Europe and subpoenas to WikiLeaks supporters and social media companies, has caused untold damage to the free press. It has chilled other publishers and journalists from publishing articles and documents to which the public ought to have access. It has made many fearful of association, including PayPal, Visa, Bank of America and other financial services companies, who continue to blockade transfers from us, from our supporters and even donations to our political party in Australia. Despite these and many other efforts, the US government has failed to destroy WikiLeaks, which remains a vigorous publishing organisation.

The formal position of the US Department of Justice is that the investigation continues. Rather than caveat riddled claims from anonymous officials with undefined motivations, the government ought to do the right thing: close the investigation and formally and unequivocally tell WikiLeaks that no charges will be brought. Despite our lawyers' repeated requests, they refuse to do so. Presently, the situation for WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange remains unchanged. Perhaps with such an assurance this dark chapter for freedom of the press can be closed.

Approved by Julian Assange, Publisher, on behalf of WikiLeaks


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