Understanding the Wikileaks Grand Jury

The Listening Post: Blowing the whistle on Obama’s America

Have a look at the latest episode of The Listening Post on Al Jazeera on Obama’s war against whistleblower and the (lack of) coverage by the American media. The Obama adminstration has indeed prosecuted more individuals under the espionnage act than any previous American government.




Supreme Court Final Decision

Responding to Dinah Rose’s written request, the Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will not reopen Assange’s case. After June 28th, Julian Assange will have 10 days to be extradited to Sweden, where he will be – more than in the UK – exposed to an extradition to the US.

Summary of the Supreme Court decision

Today, May 30th 2012, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal opposing Julian Assange’s extradition but there is still hope the case will be reopened.

His solicitor, Dinah Rose QC had argued in February that the European arrest warrant was invalid, since Marianne Ny, who had filed the EAW, could not be considered a legitimate judicial authority.

With a majority of 5-2, the court rejected the claim. However, Dinah Rose stood to ask for an extra 14 days to request a reopening of the case at the Supreme Court. Reopening a case once a decision has already been ruled is very unusual in Britain and it is certainly a good sign that the court considered the request “reasonable enough.”

The Guardian, interviewed Julian Assange’s attorney Gareth Pierce, who explained Ms Rose’s decision:

Ms Rose has indicated that she may make an application to reopen the court’s decision.  Ms Rose suggested that the majority of the court appear to have based their decision on the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, on which no argument was heard and no opportunity of making submission was given.

The Supreme Court has granted Ms Rose fourteen days to make such an application. If she decides to do so, the justices will then decide whether to reopen the appeal and accept further submissions (either verbally through a further hearing, or on paper) on the matter.

While some of Assange’s supporters, such as John Pilger, consider the court has to be taken to be the European court of human rights; his legal team is for now more measured.

During his last public appearance Julian Assange had appeared wearing a black Anonymous mask to get the world used to not seeing him publicly anymore. Today he did not come to court.

The US/Sweden agreement

Next Wednesday, the UK Supreme Court will officially release its decision regarding Julian Assange’s extradition to Sweden to respond to allegations of sexual offences, while no charge has been placed yet.

However if the founder of Wikileaks gets extradited Sweden may not be the final destination of this long legal journey.

Indeed in March 14th 1983 – while the Cold War was still dividing the world and influencing political and diplomatic decisions – Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States – signed a treaty with Sweden in order to “make more effective the Extradition Convention signed at Washington October 24, 1961,” in other words to facilitate the extradition of individuals considered criminals or potential criminals by the United States and Sweden.

This treaty would force Sweden to hand Julian Assange over to the United States, if the US was to ask Julian Assange’s extradition. Indeed, Article I states that “each Contracting State undertakes to surrender to the other (…) persons found in its territory who are sought for the purpose of prosecution, who have been found guilty of committing an offense, or who are wanted for the enforcement of a sentence.”

This treaty also applies to anyone suspected of “conspiring in, attempting, preparing for, or participating in, the commission of an offense.”

Hence a simple request from the United States would lead to Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States.

Technically the United States does not have to wait for Sweden to sort out the sexual offence allegations. Article VI(b) indeed mentions that someone prosecuted in the requested state (in Assange’s case Sweden) can be handed over to the requesting country (in this case the US) for the prosecution and may be handed back to the requested state after the decision has been taken, following an agreement decided upon by the two states.

With this framework the US could ask Sweden for Assange upon his arrival and after being prosecuted in the US for espionnage, the US and Sweden would decide whether he should be sent back to Sweden to eventually sort out the sexual offense allegations.

Article XII of the treaty could also have a decisive influence in the coming days – if Julian Assange were to be extradited to Sweden. The article indeed allows the provisional arrest of someone whose extradition has been requested. Interpol is in this case asked to intervene.

For more info on Julian Assange’s extradition to Sweden, take a look at Justice for Assange.

Understanding the Wikileaks Grand Jury will be live tweeting from the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Check out the blog or our twitter account (@wlgrandjury) for frequent updates starting from 8:30.


Wikileaks and the CCR file suit against the US military

Today, Wikileaks announced in a tweet they will file a suit with the Center for Constitutional Rights against the US military regarding the Bradley Manning case.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has acted as a legal counsel for both Wikileaks and Julian Assange. They often emphasized the ties between Bradley Manning’s military trial in Fort Meade and fought, for instance, to obtain the right to send the Wikileaks legal team to Manning’s hearings.

They published in February a statement condemning the sealed indictment refered to in the Stratfor emails. The CCR often made use of materials released by Wikileaks, and more particularly on their work concerning Guantanamo.

More on Eric Holder

To read more about Eric Holder here are two interesting pieces:



Apologies to my readers: I had made a factual error in two posts, suggesting the Wikileaks Grand Jury had started in May 2011. While the hearings may have started then, the grand jury itself was known of by the public since December 2010 and Wikileaks says it started on September 15th 2010. The posts have now been corrected. Sorry again!

Eric Holder, portrait of a man who matters – Part two: what the cables revealed about him

While the release of the Cablegate has unveiled his resentment against Wikileaks, Eric Holder was already known for his actions in the war against terrorism. A partisan of the “shoot first, ask question later” theory, he reminds the executive branch must make “real-time decisions” when handling terrorist.

Wikileaks cables have also revealed that when the Spanish interior minister visited Eric Holder they had signed an agreement allowing the sharing of fingerprints and other data of terrorists and criminals, “while protecting individual privacy”. The cable did not mention what measures had been taken to protect individual privacy…

Another cable from Madrid has shed light on the case of a NGO, which attempted to file a complaint against six US official who had created a legal framework to allow torture in Guantanamo. Since Spanish citizens had been tortured the NGO had hoped to see the American officials judged in Spain. Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza acted as an informant, providing information on the case and potential flaws in the complaints. Eventually Spain declared that the NGO would have to file the complaint in the United States. The cable mentioned that meetings would be organised between Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza and Eric Holder.

A cable from Rome showed Eric Holder was involved in discussions with other countries regarding the “relocation” of Guantanamo detainees.

However the cables mainly reveal the important influence of the US in law enforcement and criminality questions abroad. Eric Holder has thus been found helping Iraq in reinforcing its fight against criminality  and in “strengthening the Iraqi judiciary.”

A cable from Barbados, where Holder is originally from, depicted a similar desire to “modernize” the judicial system of other countries and develop cooperation in crime and security.

This intervening attitude the US have adopted toward other countries’ judiciary is an element that has already played an important part in Julian Assange’s legal fight against the United States, with the refusal of Australia to show any form of support, and may well influence his future battles.

Eric Holder, portrait of a man who matters – part one: accusing Wikileaks

CC Flicker/The Aspen Institute

Attorney General Eric Holder has been at the forefront of the legal battle the United States have led against Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

In the American administration, the attorney general is both the head of the Department of Justice and the chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. He is designated by the President of the United States and acts as his legal adviser. He also represents the US government in legal matters.

Back in December 2010, Eric Holder was the official figure designated to condemn Wikileaks’s actions and to announce the legal measures that would be taken against the organisation. He accused the organisation of putting “the safety of the American people at risk” and  announced that the Department of Justice and the Pentagon were undertaking criminal investigations. When asked how he could prosecute Assange, because of the complexity and uniqueness of the case, he responded:

Let me be very clear, it is not saber rattling. To the extent there are gaps in our laws we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say . . . that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation that’s on going.

Answering questions at a press conference he explained he had “authorized ‘significant’ actions aimed at prosecuting Wikileaks,” without explaining what they were. He added that the justice department was examining ways to stem the flow of leaked cables, a comment of particular significance, when one recalls that the banking blockade  started at the same period.

Eric Holder also came forward regarding the attacks Anonymous organised to avenge Wikileaks. At a news conference he explained that he was looking into “those incidents” and said that he was “hopeful that the people responsible for the WikiLeaks disclosures of classified information will be brought to justice.”

Yet, Eric Holder has also been the victim of harsh criticism from the Republican party and the target of their pressures, as they consider the Attorney General should have gone further in condemning Wikileaks. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, who is in charge of investigating the government for waste and fraud, said Holder should quit his position if he was not able to prevent Wikileaks from publishing government documents. He also called for a new “whistle blower bill” that would tackle the issues brought up by Wikileaks.

Michelle Bachmann was also calling for his resignation, as she condemned his “inaction over the Wikileaks disclosure.”

What we learnt from the Stratfor emails – part two: Stratfor, a key player

The emails have also revealed the close attention Stratfor has been paying to Wikileaks and the company’s involvement in attempting to convict Assange. In June 2010, Fred Burton wrote the following email:

Is he an Aussie?

As a foreign national, we could revoke his travel status and deport.

Could also be taken into custody as a material witness.

We COULD have a sealed indictment and lock him up. Depends upon how far
along the military case is.

Again the email raises obvious interrogations as to what the implications of Stratfor were on the Grand Jury and this mysterious indictment. In an email from December 12th 2010, while Julian Assange was in Wandsworth prison, Fred Burton sent an email announcing that he had informed Sky News of his “concerns for US extradition.” Five days before Fred Burton, responding to a chain of emails on getting Assange arrested had written:

Will take weeks for extradition, unless he waves the process. DOJ [Department of Justice] (Holder) won’t seek prosecution on their own, but look for the GOP (Congress) to press for criminal prosecution. Be easy to indict. I would pursue Conspiracy and Political Terrorism charges and declassify the death of a source someone which I could link to Wiki.

That chain of emails reveals the “brain storming” undertaken to hamper Wikileaks’ work. In that same chain Burton wrote:

One other point is this. Ferreting out his confederates is also key. Find out what other disgruntled rogues inside the tent or outside. Pile on. Move him from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years. But, seize everything he and his family own, to include every person linked to Wiki.

Sean Noonan was an analyst who seemed to have a central position in the discussion regarding Julian Assange’s. According to him

All this trouble with internet hosting could serve to slow down this set of leaks. And maybe a combination of wikileaks arrest and server shutdowns could stop it.

Different ways to pressure Wikileaks and whether the organization would outlive Julian Assange were discussed:

Yes, like Fred’s source pointed out–arrest and trial would just be a political circus. It would probably not disrupt wikileaks. BUT, occasionally a leader makes an organization, and maybe no one as capable will be willing to fill his shoes. Or at least, won’t be able to get as much publicity for wikileaks. As you also said, it could tarnish both Assange’s and Wikileaks’ repution. That could serve to discredit and undermine the group. Maybe people would be less inclined to leak to it, or the public would be less inclined to pay attention–or more importantly support wikileaks financially. Though I admit the chance of this causing the public to pay less attention is minimal, and in fact would probably increase attention on the guy. (though personally, getting a rapist off the street is getting a rapist off the street. Also, his mom owns a puppet theater…)

If Assange is running the show and his staff isn’t as confident as he is, then arresting him now could very well stop the flow of cables. But all it takes is one person to keep it going – or just dump them all at once if it gets too dicey, and these files have been very widely distributed so far. I can’t imagine anyone reclaiming all the documents now.

In a different chain of emails, Burton explains:

The espionage laws, believe it or not, do not make an exception for
reporters, Martin says. However, as a matter of policy, reporters and publishers have never been charged under espionage laws.

To which Sean Noonan replies:

This seems like a pretty good analysis. Certainly better than most of
our own conjecture. ‘Given that Assange has run hundreds of thousands of classified documents on his web site, each one that is properly classified could be included as
a separate count of an indictment.’ I look forward to Manning and Assange facing a bajillion-thousand counts of espionage.

A privately owned intelligence agency, Stratfor seems to reflect the issue of all secret services: its obscure interferences with the rest of society and the legal system in this context.