Founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange wearing black suit and red tie.

Trump Should be Ridiculed if U.S. Extradites Assange

Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson and WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson comment on the hearing.

Westminster Magistrate’s Court just had a hearing with Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Wikileak’s Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson on a request by the U.S. government to extradite Assange on charges of leaking classified information. For the past few weeks since his arrest Julian Assange is being kept in Her Magesty’s prison in solitary confinement—23 out of 24 hours a day in a cell. Utterly unconscionable for a journalist who did nothing wrong.

CHRISTOPHER NAWOJCZYK: This is DISGUSTING. Donald Trump will commit a crime against humanity and this nation’s founding ideals if his administration extradites Julian Assange to the United States for trial under espionage. Maybe Trump himself wants to see Assange punished, despite his favorable mentioning of Wikileaks during the campaign trail that helped in get elected. Thus no one ever knows the mind of Trump, a man who shoots from the hip with a bullish attitude. Ironically, he often allows appointed cabinet members to tell him what to do.

Julian Assange’s acts have been pursued since 2010 by the Obama administration, which has only been continued under Trump. If President Trump truly loved American values he would support true journalism under the First Amendment. Julian Assange committed no crime, and furthermore his Wikileaks articles brought light to the twisted, bloodthirsty aggression of the military-industrial complex. The United States engages in military conflicts around the world that have NOTHING to do with national defense.

The allegations against Julian Assange of leaking classified information fall flat on their face when scrutinized under constitutional law. One can only be charged with espionage against the U.S. government if the person acts with intent to undermine national sovereignty. Here, Assange received classified intelligence from a third-party and published it on Wikileaks. This transfer of information was nothing other than journalism, which protects the just rule of law.

Defining Espionage

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines espionage as:

Definition of espionage (noun): “the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company”

Official Espionage Act of the U.S. Government

Let’s learn exactly what federal law has to say about espionage. Here is the official 18 United States Code (U.S.C.) Sections (§§) 791-799 from the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School:

18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 37—ESPIONAGE AND CENSORSHIP

§ 791. [Repealed. Pub. L. 87–369, § 1, Oct. 4, 1961, 75 Stat. 795]

§ 792. Harboring or concealing persons

Whoever harbors or conceals any person who he knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe or suspect, has committed, or is about to commit, an offense under sections 793 or 794 of this title, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 736Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

§ 793. Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

(a) Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, fueling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, research laboratory or station or other place connected with the national defense owned or constructed, or in progress of construction by the United States or under the control of the United States, or of any of its officers, departments, or agencies, or within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, or any place in which any vessel, aircraft, arms, munitions, or other materials or instruments for use in time of war are being made, prepared, repaired, stored, or are the subject of research or development, under any contract or agreement with the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or with any person on behalf of the United States, or otherwise on behalf of the United States, or any prohibited place so designated by the President by proclamation in time of war or in case of national emergency in which anything for the use of the Army, Navy, or Air Force is being prepared or constructed or stored, information as to which prohibited place the President has determined would be prejudicial to the national defense; or

(b) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense; or

(c) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter; or

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(g) If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.

(h)

  • (1) Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forfeit to the United States, irrespective of any provision of State law, any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, from any foreign government, or any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, as the result of such violation. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.
  • (2) The court, in imposing sentence on a defendant for a conviction of a violation of this section, shall order that the defendant forfeit to the United States all property described in paragraph (1) of this subsection.
  • (3)(A) property subject to forfeiture under this subsection;
  • (3)(B) any seizure or disposition of such property; and
  • (3)(C) any administrative or judicial proceeding in relation to such property, if not inconsistent with this subsection.
  • (4) Notwithstanding section 524(c) of title 28, there shall be deposited in the Crime Victims Fund in the Treasury all amounts from the forfeiture of property under this subsection remaining after the payment of expenses for forfeiture and sale authorized by law.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 736; Sept. 23, 1950, ch. 1024, title I, § 18, 64 Stat. 1003; Pub. L. 99–399, title XIII, § 1306(a), Aug. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 898; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147; Pub. L. 103–359, title VIII, § 804(b)(1), Oct. 14, 1994, 108 Stat. 3440; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, § 607(b), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3511.)

§ 794. Gathering or delivering defense information to aid foreign government

(a) Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life, except that the sentence of death shall not be imposed unless the jury or, if there is no jury, the court, further finds that the offense resulted in the identification by a foreign power (as defined in section 101(a) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978) of an individual acting as an agent of the United States and consequently in the death of that individual, or directly concerned nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack; war plans; communications intelligence or cryptographic information; or any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy.

(b) Whoever, in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, collects, records, publishes, or communicates, or attempts to elicit any information with respect to the movement, numbers, description, condition, or disposition of any of the Armed Forces, ships, aircraft, or war materials of the United States, or with respect to the plans or conduct, or supposed plans or conduct of any naval or military operations, or with respect to any works or measures undertaken for or connected with, or intended for the fortification or defense of any place, or any other information relating to the public defense, which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life.

(c) If two or more persons conspire to violate this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.

(d)

  • (1) Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forfeit to the United States irrespective of any provision of State law—
  • (1)(A) any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of such violation, and
  • (1)(B) any of the person’s property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, such violation.
  • For the purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.
  • (2) The court, in imposing sentence on a defendant for a conviction of a violation of this section, shall order that the defendant forfeit to the United States all property described in paragraph (1) of this subsection.
  • (3)(A) property subject to forfeiture under this subsection;
  • (3)(B) any seizure or disposition of such property; and
  • (3)(C) any administrative or judicial proceeding in relation to such property,if not inconsistent with this subsection.
  • (4) Notwithstanding section 524(c) of title 28, there shall be deposited in the Crime Victims Fund in the Treasury all amounts from the forfeiture of property under this subsection remaining after the payment of expenses for forfeiture and sale authorized by law.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 737; Sept. 3, 1954, ch. 1261, title II, § 201, 68 Stat. 1219Pub. L. 99–399, title XIII, § 1306(b), Aug. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 898Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, § 7064, Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4404Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, § 60003(a)(2), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1968Pub. L. 103–359, title VIII, § 804(b)(2), Oct. 14, 1994, 108 Stat. 3440Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, §§ 604(b)(2), 607(b), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3506, 3511.)

Assange Should be Treated Like Any Other Journalist

Further, Assange might not be immune from espionage if he worked directly for a U.S. government agency and violated the codes of conduct or bylaws of that agency. The First Amendment protects free speech of the press without exception. Journalists who are given classified information by whistleblowers ought be immune from committing espionage even though the data released to the public might be sensitive. The principle still stands nevertheless.

This nation was built on ideological principles based on Natural Law. The Constitution’s purpose is to restrain the government and promote liberty—not be vice that chokes and suffocates an otherwise free press.

As Attorney Robinson said, prosecuting Julian Assange in this manner as merely a journalist publishing crimes about the state—will set a precedent among the world over that free speech does not exist. The whole notion of the phrase “free speech” implies it is protected from government punishment even though it may be greatly offensive. Whether that offense comes to a private party of the official government, freedom of speech is a longstanding ideological value of American jurisprudence stemming from Old English common law. What the government’s of Britain and the United States are doing to Assange is completely abhorrent.

Featured Image: Espen Moe [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

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