Julian Assange Won’t Be Extradited to the US Yet

Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, confessed during a court martial in 2013 to leaking more than 725,000 documents to WikiLeaks, though her conviction pertains only to portions of hundreds of documents. Manning was accused but acquitted of “aiding the enemy.” Her 35-year prison sentence was commuted in January 2017 by former US president Barack Obama in one of his final acts of office.

The Espionage Act, under which Assange is charged, is among the most controversial in the nation’s criminal code, wielded by prosecutors against whistleblowers and national security leakers with the same intensity as any captured traitor or spy.

Much of the US case is based on digital logs of conversations held between WikiLeaks associates and accounts allegedly manned by Assange himself. Ironically, most if not all of this evidence has itself been leaked over the years or otherwise amassed by independent researchers. Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDOS), a WikiLeaks successor, has compiled at least hundreds of thousands of pages of relevant documents from various confidential sources, including those targeted by FBI informers and by the bureau itself via search warrants.

A private database created by DDOS, reviewed by WIRED, currently contains roughly 100 gigabytes’ worth of WikiLeaks material, including several hundred thousand internal emails and tens of thousands of chat logs, many bearing account names known to have been used by Assange personally.

Despite being rigorously cataloged by DDOS researchers, it remains difficult to quantify how many individuals’ communications were logged due to the sheer volume of text. The anti-secrecy organization’s earliest files pertaining to Assange’s activities online date back 30 years.

Emma Best, a journalist and co-founder of DDOS, says it is believed the organization possesses all—or nearly all—of the recorded conversations cited in the US government’s indictment. A large percentage of internal WikiLeaks chatter is said to have been recorded by Sigurdur Thordarson, a former WikiLeaks associate, in the years and months prior to his betrayal of the organization.

Following his stint as an FBI informer in 2011, Thordarson faced multiple convictions in Icelandic court for sex crimes involving minors and for fraud in relation to funds embezzled from WikiLeaks. According to Best, a close inspection of the files would shed even further doubt as to Thordarson’s reliability, as he often mischaracterizes statements by Assange when communicating with other WikiLeaks associates and supporters.

Best says making the WikiLeaks files public is a priority due to the US’s aggressive moves in the case and the international repercussions, but distribution remains limited currently to trusted professionals, primarily for privacy reasons. WIRED’s review found that the documents identify countless individuals, including many who are not affiliated with WikiLeaks. Additionally, while the US and UK governments presumably have access to all or most of the same files, Best says, other governments, which could seek to act upon them legally, likely do not.

“The case against WikiLeaks and Assange is as misunderstood as it is secretive and important, problems worsened by the many liars involved and the largely vibes-based analysis of it,” she tells WIRED. “The first step to fixing this is simple: Leak the case.”

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