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  • Is Wikileaks tailoring their releases to avoid treason charges for Assange?

    Posted by TM Lutas on December 8th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Wikileaks randy revolutionary, Julian Assange, cannot be a traitor to the US, we are told, because he is an Australian citizen. This leaves him with a vulnerability in releasing documents that involve the Australian government.

    Since it is highly unlikely that in the 250,000 cables there are none that involve the government of Australia there is no doubt a legal team examining Australian law for the proper way to proceed when Mr. Assange’s traveling roadshow comes to Canberra. So how many Australian related State Department cables have been released? So far as I can tell, exactly zero. That’s very nice for Mr. Assange but doesn’t do so much for Wikileaks’ reputation as an honest broker or any of Wikileaks’ non-Australian collaborators who do not get that little legal benefit.

    Update: The Guardian newspaper, who has all the cables, has a CSV file which includes cable metadata from Canberra, the US’ embassy in Australia. It also has a nice cable source graphic. Australia is one of the few countries not listed as having any cables from there. This is passing strange.

     

    6 Responses to “Is Wikileaks tailoring their releases to avoid treason charges for Assange?”

    1. Chris Grgeory Says:

      Uh, no, they’ve published cables about Australia. The biggest one is regarding Australian politicians spying for the US. Your point is, well, there’s no point to what you’re saying. The cables are being released on a country-by-country basis, for a number of reasons, which should be fairly self-evident.

    2. Paul Darwen Says:

      Australia’s Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, is indeed looking at whether or not Julian Assange has broken any Australian laws:

      http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/australian-federal-police-to-investigate-wikileaks-cablegate/story-e6frf7lf-1225962895317

      Treason is a citizen taking up arms to fight against their own country. As far as I know, Julian Assange has not started shooting at any employees of the Australian government, so he hasn’t committed treason.

      Perhaps you mean something like espionage?

    3. TM Lutas Says:

      Chris Gregory – I did a search for Australian cables and came up empty. An url or two would be helpful from the Wikileaks site. According to press reports they’ve given the whole dump to the Sydney Morning Herald but that doesn’t mean that Wikileaks itself has made anything available to the public. If the Sydney Morning Herald crosses the line, I’m not quite sure how they get Assange for it.

      Paul Darwen – Your definition of treason in Australia is not correct and has not been correct since at least the relevant 2002 updates(pdf) to the Australian legal code. With a bit of googling I think the section is 80.1(1)(f) which brands the intentional aid of organizations at war with the Australian Defense Force as being an act of treason.

      Assange is probably safe on this particular one for now because he seems to be taking positive efforts to reduce harm and thus could make a successful affirmative defense that he did not intend to help organizations at war with Australia. Assange might be vulnerable if he releases the keys to his unfiltered “poison pill” document.

    4. Jim Miller Says:

      TM Lutas – Tim Blair has some Australian cables at his
      site.

    5. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Whether Assange is charged with treason depends on both Australian statute, and the political judgment of the current Australian government; which I am given to understand would look with favor on anything that would embarrass the United States.

      Both he, and PFC Manning, could be subject to US espionage laws if our current regime so decides. Actually, I have seen the published charge sheet for Manning. He is already destined for Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks. The other shoe, that is yet to drop, is the matter of others in the government involved. Aside from the horrendous breach of pretty much every rule for classification, compartmentation, and protection of information; there was the matter of who told Manning where to look for what specific information in that huge database. And from both personal experience in dealing with database security in the corporate world, and from what I have gleaned from some I know with similar experience in government database security; some very basic tripwires should have been set off. I’m assuming [and hoping] that there is a mole hunt in progress, although we may never hear the outcome.

      Subotai Bahadur

    6. TM Lutas Says:

      Jim Miller – Thanks for the pointer. I’m more looking at the two-tier system of releases with wikileaks itself not putting out Australia stuff to the public but only filtering it through media outlets who have larger legal budgets and well established relations with the Australian political class. Is it just coincidence and any day now we’re going to see wikileaks.ch publish cables source canberra?

      I can see coincidence as a realistic possibility. I can see avoiding legal entanglements as a possibility. I can’t come up with a third one. Can you?

      Subotai Bahadur – Thanks to Jim Miller’s pointer and looking at a scandal involving the Cabinet and the former PM’s brother, I think it’s safe to say that the current government in Australia is not too fond of Julian Assange.