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US Continues Criminal Probe into WikiLeaks in Pursuit of Whistleblowers

© AP Photo / Sang TanA supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds on to a placard with his teeth during a June vigil outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to mark Assange's two years in refuge at the embassy.
A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds on to a placard with his teeth during a June vigil outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to mark Assange's two years in refuge at the embassy. - Sputnik International
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Five years after Julian Assange and his team began publishing state secrets leaked by an American army intelligence analyst, WikiLeaks remains the target of an active United States criminal investigation.

Two wings of the Department of Justice and the FBI remain engaged in a criminal investigation into the website, the Guardian reported, citing information from a ruling by a federal judge in Washington, DC.

After considering evidence from both the Justice Department’s criminal and national security divisions, as well as from the FBI, Judge Barbara Rothstein ruled “this court is persuaded that there is an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Julian Assange still remains holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London. WikiLeaks founder spoke with RTS during which he said that the US government would never let him get off the hook for publishing top secret US military documents leaked in 2010. - Sputnik International
‘I’m Condemned to Death’ – WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

The federal agencies had argued that their inquiry into WikiLeaks was “separate and distinct” from the prosecution of Chelsea Manning, the army soldier who leaked the vast database of secrets, the Guardian reported.

Manning was convicted under the Espionage Act and sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years in military custody.

WikiLeaks’s lawyer, Michael Ratner, said the disclosure left no doubt about the US government’s intentions.

“We are talking about a serious, multi-subject long-term investigation of WikiLeaks and its people,” Ratner told the Guardian. “This confirms in spades that the US authorities are coming after WikiLeaks and want to close it down.”

The court ruling arrived in response to a freedom of information request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which requested all DOJ and FBI records regarding anyone investigated for connections to WikiLeaks.

The US military has approved hormone treatment for convicted leaker Chelsea Manning - currently serving a 35-year sentence at the Fort Leavenworth Army prison - so she can transition to a woman, USA Today reports. - Sputnik International
Army Gives First Ever Go-Ahead on Hormone Therapy for Chelsea Manning

The judge ordered the federal agencies to double check their records, but ultimately did not force them to hand over any materials, saying doing so could interfere with law enforcement activities.

In January 2011, it was revealed that the US government had ordered Twitter to hand over private messages from a then WikiLeaks volunteer, the Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

Earlier this year, it emerged that a similar demand for information had been imposed on Google relating to three WikiLeaks staffers.

Manning’s case is one of eight prosecutions President Barack Obama’s administration has launched under the 1917 Espionage Act – more than under all previous US presidencies combined.

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