- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The FBI made its case for arresting WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange by citing his website’s release of U.S. military secrets desired and acquired by Al Qaeda’s upper echelon.

Made public Monday by a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, the affidavit used to obtain a criminal complaint and arrest warrant for Mr. Assange recalled that WikiLeaks material was found on digital media recovered in 2011 from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The affidavit specifically cites separate letters in which Bin Laden requested and received information from a fellow Al Qaeda terrorist concerning material published online by WikiLeaks in 2010. The source of the information was later traced to Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst who subsequently admitted to supplying the site with a trove of documents including classified reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Adam Schiff insists impeachment 'isn't a failure' despite lack of GOP support
Train company claps back at Greta Thunberg over floor pic, notes 'first class' seat
Yes, James Comey, facts really do matter

Bin Laden asked the Al Qaeda member to gather Department of Defense material released by WikiLeaks and received back information about Afghanistan, FBI special agent Megan Brown wrote in the affidavit.

Manning and WikiLeaks had reason to believe that public disclosure of the Afghanistan War Reports and Iraq War Reports would cause injury to the United States,” the FBI agent wrote. “Documents included in the Afghanistan War Reports contained information the disclosure of which potentially endangered U.S. troops and Afghan civilians, and aided enemies of the United States.”

The evidence was previously cited during Manning’s court-martial in 2013 as military prosecutors unsuccessfully sought to convict her of “aiding the enemy,” a crime that could have carried a possible life sentence. Manning was acquitted of that charge but found guilty on counts of espionage, computer hacking and theft.

Filed under seal in December 2017, the affidavit against Mr. Assange was made public in the aftermath of his recent extraction from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had lived for nearly seven years under political asylum.

Mr. Assange, 47, is accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring with Manning, 31, to crack a password that would have allowed her to access military documents without authorization. He is being held in London pending further proceedings.

“Encouraging sources to provide information, and using methods to protect their identity, are common practices by all journalists, said Barry Pollack, Mr. Assange’s lawyer. “There is no new information in the affidavit that was unavailable to the Department of Justice when it decided in the Obama administration that pursuing criminal charges against Mr. Assange would be contrary to the First Amendment,” he told Reuters.

Manning served seven years of a 35-year prison sentence prior to having most of her punishment commuted by former President Barack Obama in 2017. She was recently found in contempt of court for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury empaneled by prosecutors investigating WikiLeaks and has been reincarcerated for more than a month, however.

Manning admitted sending WikiLeaks classified documents including reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as material including details concerning detainees held by the military at Guantanamo Bay, video footage of a U.S. airstrike killing civilians and hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.

“This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war, and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day,” she wrote in a 2010 message to WikiLeaks describing the war reports.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide