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Until Grand Jury Investigation Disbanded, WikiLeaks Should Remain Skeptical of US Officials’ Statements

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(update below)

For the second time in the past weeks, anonymous United States government officials have spoken to a reporter with the Washington Post about a possible case against WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.

“The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists,” Sari Horowitz reported.

The anonymous officials “stressed that a formal decision” has not been made. A grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, which has been investigating WikiLeaks, remains empaneled. Yet, “There is little possibility of bringing a case against Assange, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top-secret military and diplomatic documents.”

The problem, the officials said, is something they call the “New York Times problem.” As Horowitz elaborated, “If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.”

The comments from anonymous government officials come about one week after a story where anonymous US officials (possibly the same sources for this story) informed the Post that there was no “sealed indictment” in Assange’s case.

A remark on the case from a “law enforcement official” was actually changed by the newspaper, although the Post did not bother to note the change at the bottom of the story:

As the screen shots show, the statement, “He might be in six months now,” was replaced with, “The investigation is ongoing.” The “law enforcement official” was either being flippant or inadvertently revealed that the Justice Department is still working on its investigation and could reach an indictment in six months. [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."