WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been under investigation by the United States Department of Justice since 2010, but now the 45-year-old founder of the document-leaking online site is claiming that the DOJ decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server should let him off the hook.
In a letter delivered by Assange’s Washington D.C.-based lawyer Barry J. Pollack to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday, WikiLeaks claims that the same reasons given by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey in his decision not to prosecute Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, should also apply to Assange in the DOJ investigation into WikiLeaks publication of classified U.S. government documents.
Namely, Comey said that the FBI did not find that “Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.”
BREAKING: WikiLeaks’ attorneys tell DOJ that ‘Clinton precedent’ must signal end to investigation of Julian Assange https://t.co/pyuZrYIG8e
— Andrew Blake (@apblake) August 16, 2016
Read the entire text of the WikiLeaks letter to Lynch by clicking on this link.
The lawyer for WikILeaks says that because Julian Assange “has published information out of a single overriding motivation: its belief that the information being published is newsworthy.”
As a result, Pollack reasons, “WikiLeaks intent was lawful,” because it did not aim to aid enemies of the United States, only to “inform the public about matters of great public interest.”
On Monday, Assange gave an interview via satellite from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been taking refuge since 2012 to avoid questioning in a rape case brought against him by Swedish prosecutors, to CNN anchor Jake Tapper. Watch Assange’s own explanation for why he believes the Clinton case should let him off the hook, in the video below.
Despite Pollack’s claims, Comey did not say that individuals have a blank check to publish classified information as long as their intent is not criminal. Clinton was not charged in the case in part because the FBI found “no evidence” that her alleged mishandling of small amounts of classified data was intentional, Comey said — a description that clearly would not apply to WikiLeaks and Assange.
In fact, on the WikiLeaks site, the group clearly states that its publication of nearly 400,000 secret documents pertaining to the United States invasion of Iraq was “the largest classified military leak in history.”
Nonetheless, Assange told Tapper on Monday that the continued, six-year investigation into WikiLeaks was “a problem” in light of the decision not to prosecute Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton’s case has been dropped, the case against WikiLeaks continues. So why is it that the, quote, ‘pending law enforcement proceedings’ against WikiLeaks continue?” Assange told Tapper. “There’s a problem here.”
The WikiLeaks demand to cease the investigation into Assange comes as WikiLeaks continues to insert itself into the United States presidential election, first by releasing thousands of emails stolen from Democratic National Committee computer servers on the eve of the Democratic National Convention last month — and more recently with continued public threats by Assange to release more stolen documents that could prove damaging to Clinton.
United States intelligence officials have concluded that the DNC emails were stolen by hackers working for Russian intelligence agencies, who appear to have passed them on to WikiLeaks, an allegation Assange denies.
But last week, the same Russian-connected hacker group published on a non-WikiLeaks site confidential documents revealing personal phone numbers and home addresses for numerous Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives.
— New Republic (@NewRepublic) August 9, 2016
The apparent attempt by Julian Assange, an Australian national, and WikiLeaks to influence the United States presidential election has led to calls in the Ecuador press for that country’s government to revoke the political asylum it granted to Assange in 2012, allowing the WikiLeaks founder to take up residence in the country’s London embassy building.
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An op-ed column appearing Tuesday in Ecuador’s El Comercio newspaper called Assange a “time bomb,” as columnist Jose Ayala Lasso said that Assange’s most recent activities have violated the terms of his asylum agreement.
— Mar Hopp (@HoppMar) August 12, 2016
“Given the gruesome performances by Assange undoubtedly violate his refugee status, it should be considered whether his conduct, taken to the extreme, is a good reason for Ecuador to end such asylum,’ Lasso wrote.
Julian Assange has made no secret of his disdain for Hillary Clinton, and last week the WikiLeaks Twitter account, believed to be operated by Assange, posted a link to an online video of the supposed “documentary” film Clinton Cash, co-produced by the Executive Chairman of the right-wing site Breitbart.com.
[Photo by Frank Augstein/Getty Images]