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    US Prosecutors Allude to ‘Ongoing Investigation’ Linked to Assange Case

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    A motion to unseal court documents Wednesday related to the US government’s criminal complaint against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed heavy redactions justified by another ongoing investigation.

    On Wednesday, a motion to unseal seven documents related to the sealing of the December 21, 2017, criminal complaint against Assange was granted, revealing more about the process by which the journalist came to be charged in a US district court for allegedly helping Chelsea Manning break into a US government computer in 2010 so she could steal classified documents.

    However, the motion to seal that complaint contains heavy redactions, justified by Assistant US Attorney Thomas Traxler in Wednesday's motion as due to the document containing "nonpublic information about an ongoing investigation."

    ​"Premature disclosure of the specific details of this ongoing investigation would jeopardize the investigation, including by aiding Assange in his attempt to flee from or otherwise avoid prosecution in the United States," the 2017 sealing motion states, arguing that this represented a "significant countervailing interest" that "outweighs the public's interest in openness."

    "Although the government has confirmed that Mr. Assange or WikiLeaks is under investigation, the government has never provided the specific details of that ongoing investigation, nor stated whether Mr. Assange has been charged or which of his affiliates may also be under investigation," the memo continues, suggesting that other WikiLeaks associates may also be charged.

    ​"The complaint and supporting documents would need to remain sealed until the defendant is arrested and extradited, except that the United States may provide a copy of these documents, and information relating thereto, to such foreign and domestic law enforcement, judicial, and diplomatic personnel as necessary to secure the defendant's arrest and extradition," the 2017 memo notes.

    The indictment followed in March after the affidavit and spelled out Assange's charges. However, the indictment includes citations from the Espionage Act, even though it's not explicitly mentioned and Assange isn't charged with espionage at this time.

    Section 793 of the US Code, cited in the indictment, "is the real killer one in terms of journalism," Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria told Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear Tuesday, "because there's no doubt that journalists, all the time — including Assange — obtain, and hold and possess classified information and disseminate it. That's criminal under the Espionage Act, 793(e), and it's mentioned here."

    Topic:
    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)

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    Tags:
    affidavit, unsealing, ongoing probe, seal, indictment, investigation, documents, WikiLeaks, US District Court, Julian Assange
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