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posted by hubie on Friday August 19 2022, @07:22AM   Printer-friendly

Assange lawyers sue CIA for spying on them:

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sued the US Central Intelligence Agency and its former director Mike Pompeo on Monday, alleging it recorded their conversations and copied data from their phones and computers.

[...] They said the CIA worked with a security firm contracted by the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where Assange was living at the time, to spy on the Wikileaks founder, his lawyers, journalists and others he met with.

[...] Richard Roth, the New York attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the alleged spying on Assange's attorneys means the Wikileaks founder's right to a fair trial has "now been tainted, if not destroyed."

[...] It said Undercover Global, which had a security contract with the embassy, swept information on their electronic devices, including communications with Assange, and provided it to the CIA.

In addition it placed microphones around the embassy and sent recordings, as well as footage from security cameras, to the CIA.

This, Roth said, violated privacy protections for US citizens.

Anyone knowledgeable on the law who can help unpack all the legal angles here (non-US citizen, US lawyers, in an embassy in a foreign country involving a private company)?


Original Submission

Related Stories

No NGO Has Been Allowed to See Julian Assange Since Four Years Ago 12 comments

Democracy Now has a brief interview with a representative from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on their latest attempt to meet Julian Assange inside Belmarsh high-security prison in the UK. Despite being granted approval, the RSF secretary-general and executive director Christophe Deloire and the others with him were denied entry. No other non-governmental agency has been able to meet with Assange in the last four years either.

CHRISTOPHE DELOIRE: So, what happened is that in the past years we requested to be able to visit Julian in his jail. We got an approval recently, which was confirmed on March 21st with a number, an official number, for myself and my colleague, Rebecca Vincent, and we were invited to come to the prison.

And when we just arrived, the guy at the desk, when he saw my passport, he suddenly was very stressed, and that taking a paper on his office — on his desk, and that read it, saying, "According to Article" — I do not remember the number of the article, but according to this article, "you are not allowed to visit Julian Assange. This is a decision that has been made by the governor of the Belmarsh prison, based on intelligence that we had" — I quote him — "that you are journalists."

And it doesn't make sense at all, first, because, personally, I've been a journalist since 1996, and we were vetted, so it was never a mystery that I was a journalist, never a secret. Second, my colleague wasn't a journalist herself. And we came here not as journalists, but as representatives of an international NGO with a constitutive status in many international organizations. So it was really as Reporters Without Borders representatives, not as reporters covering the case. So, it doesn't make sense for this second reason. And there is a third reason for which it doesn't make sense, is that already two journalists, at least, have been able to visit him in jail in the past four years. So —

Previously:
(2022) Biden Faces Growing Pressure to Drop Charges Against Julian Assange
(2022) Assange Lawyers Sue CIA for Spying on Them
(2022) Julian Assange's Extradition to the US Approved by UK Home Secretary
(2021) Key Witness in Assange Case Jailed in Iceland After Admitting to Lies and Ongoing Crime Spree
(2019) Top Assange Defense Account Suspended By Twitter
(2019) Wikileaks Co-Founder Julian Assange Arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
(2015) French Justice Minister Says Snowden and Assange Could Be Offered Asylum

And many more.


Original Submission

Australian Lawmakers Press US Envoy for Julian Assange Release 4 comments

Australian lawmakers press US envoy for Julian Assange release

Australian lawmakers have met United States Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, urging her to help drop the pending extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and allow him to return to Australia.

The "Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group" said on Tuesday it informed Kennedy of "the widespread concern in Australia" about the continued detention of Assange, an Australian citizen.

The meeting comes before US President Joe Biden's scheduled visit to Australia this month for the Quad leaders' summit.

"There are a range of views about Assange in the Australian community and the members of the Parliamentary Group reflect that diversity of views. But what is not in dispute in the Group is that Mr Assange is being treated unjustly," the legislators said in a statement after meeting Kennedy in the capital, Canberra.

Assange is battling extradition from the United Kingdom to the US where he is wanted on criminal charges over the release of confidential military records and diplomatic cables in 2010. Washington says the release of the documents had put lives in danger.

Previously:

April 2023: No NGO Has Been Allowed to See Julian Assange Since Four Years Ago
December 2022: Biden Faces Growing Pressure to Drop Charges Against Julian Assange
August 2022: Assange Lawyers Sue CIA for Spying on Them
June 2022: Julian Assange's Extradition to the US Approved by UK Home Secretary


Original Submission

Chris Hedges' Sermon on The Crucifixion of Julian Assange 21 comments

The ScheerPost has published a sermon which Chris Hedges gave on Sunday Aug. 20 in Oslo, Norway at Kulturkirken Jakob (St. James Church of Culture) where the actor and film director Liv Ullmann read the scripture passages. Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has worked for many years at the New York Times, NPR, and several other publications. In his sermon he expounds on the long-standing problem of speaking truth to power.

Julian exposed the truth. He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling class And for these truths they came after Julian, as they have come after all who dared rip back the veil on power. "Red Rosa now has vanished too," Bertolt Brecht wrote after the German socialist Rosa Luxemburg was murdered. "She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out."

We have undergone a corporate coup, where poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where we, as citizens, are nothing more than commodities to corporate systems of power, ones to be used, fleeced and discarded.

Given the massive quantities of disinformation spread over a longer period of time against Julian Assange, and the media blackout on coverage of his case and how it effects journalism as a whole, this is a difficult case to find a concise and accurate summary to link to. The bottom line is that, regardless of what one thinks (or has been told to think) about Julian Assange, the case hinges on factors which will determine whether or not there is a future for investigative reporting.

Previously:
(2023) Australian Lawmakers Press US Envoy for Julian Assange Release
(2023) No NGO Has Been Allowed to See Julian Assange Since Four Years Ago
(2022) Biden Faces Growing Pressure to Drop Charges Against Julian Assange
(2022) Assange Lawyers Sue CIA for Spying on Them
(2021) Key Witness in Assange Case Jailed in Iceland After Admitting to Lies and Ongoing Crime Spree
...
(2015) French Justice Minister Says Snowden and Assange Could Be Offered Asylum


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Friday August 19 2022, @11:01AM (10 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 19 2022, @11:01AM (#1267479) Journal

    There is only one angle. Julian must be made an example of, and there is no law so holy that we won't bend, mutilate, or spindle it in our quest to crucify Julian.

    --
    We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Friday August 19 2022, @04:49PM (9 children)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Friday August 19 2022, @04:49PM (#1267527) Journal

      It is possible that he committed a crime. You can make all the unsupported claims you want but we will see what a jury of his peers thinks.

      Neither one of us actually knows if he is innocent or not.

      • (Score: 1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @05:47PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @05:47PM (#1267532)

        Typical democrat fascist. It's possible that he committed a crime, so... lock him up! You people are sick barbaric savages!

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @06:54PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @06:54PM (#1267542)

          And your mod squad provides catharsis? Feel better now? yeah, this is how you troll.. looks like you won, and he loses.. dirty shame that other people have to suffer for your doing.. no justice in this life.. We can only hope for better in the next one

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @07:48PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @07:48PM (#1267555)

        Oops, this [soylentnews.org] was supposed to go here...

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:42AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:42AM (#1267600)

        It is also possible that you are guilty of molesting underage monkeys. Shall we extradite you to Borneo to stand trial for monkey molestation?

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Mykl on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:50AM (4 children)

        by Mykl (1112) on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:50AM (#1267602)

        It is far more likely that he did not commit a crime.

        A non-US citizen, residing outside of the US, broadly identified as a journalist, published information that was provided to them by someone else. If you want to make that a crime, then anyone reporting on any leak from any government department at any time is also criminal. Of course, that's likely the whole point of this.

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20 2022, @05:26AM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20 2022, @05:26AM (#1267623)

          It is far more likely that he did not commit a crime.

          He offended a democrat administration, a criminal act by definition while democrats are in charge

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20 2022, @07:39PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20 2022, @07:39PM (#1267687)

            Troll

            Yeah, too bad all the moderators are democrats, this is how they troll. This is why such low quality people win elections, they are a true reflection of their constituency

          • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday August 23 2022, @07:32PM (1 child)

            by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday August 23 2022, @07:32PM (#1268155) Journal

            He was indicted by the Trump administration.

            • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Wednesday August 24 2022, @03:12AM

              by Mykl (1112) on Wednesday August 24 2022, @03:12AM (#1268194)

              Trump loved Assange because he made Hillary look bad. I'm not sure why Trump eventually turned on him as well though.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ledow on Friday August 19 2022, @11:21AM (3 children)

    by ledow (5567) on Friday August 19 2022, @11:21AM (#1267482) Homepage

    American intelligence agency used intelligence gathered on a non-American citizen who was literally on the run from charges in the UK, wanted for extradition to the US, while in a UK-hosted embassy to Ecuador?

    Yeah, good luck finding an appropriate venue for that one, and when you do they'll go "National Security" and that's your case done.

    CIA did exactly what it's required to do (attorney-client privilege does not overall national security and such organisations), it happened on UK soil (no, not Ecuadorian!), to a criminal on the run, the UK has no reason to care about it whatsoever, Ecuador probably actively assisted and also doesn't care, and the "crime" is American (but didn't happen there), and the CIA are an authority of some standing in America.

    You can try but I reckon you won't have a leg to stand on because nothing actual illegal in that location / time / circumstance took place, and best you can hope for is a mistrial if that evidence is presented in court (which they can avoid / retrial by just not presenting that particular evidence). But by the sound of it, they're hardly likely to bother to do that anyway.

    Australian criminals actively on the run from the law in London don't get US privacy protection. Sorry.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @12:09PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19 2022, @12:09PM (#1267491)

      Are they arguing that Assange's privacy rights were violated, or the lawyers? That wasn't clear from the short article. Or if they are arguing his, could there be an angle that since he has been charged, the attorney-client privilege now exists, because foreigners subject to US trials do get a certain level (the same?) protection as citizens that they might have not had before they were arrested/charged. I'm pretty sure that issue came up for the Gitmo detainees at some point (though my memory is probably fuzzy).

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Spook brat on Friday August 19 2022, @04:31PM (1 child)

        by Spook brat (775) on Friday August 19 2022, @04:31PM (#1267524) Journal

        from TFA:

        The attorneys, along with two journalists joining the suit, are Americans and allege that the CIA violated their US constitutional protections for confidential discussions . . .
        Robert Boyle, a New York attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the alleged spying on Assange's attorneys means the WikiLeaks founder's right to a fair trial has "now been tainted, if not destroyed." . . .
        "There should be sanctions, even up to dismissal of those charges, or withdrawal of an extradition request in response to these blatantly unconstitutional activities," he said.

        My read of this is that based on the Lawyers being American, the lawyers are suing the CIA and asking for relief in the form of ending the prosecution against Assange. In a just world that should probably happen. In terms of realpolitik, this looks funny to me. I guess if there isn't an open court case to prosecute him yet, taking the CIA to court might make sense as a way to preempt the the trial before it even begins? The CIA as defendant in the lawsuit seems like they're barking up the wrong tree. It's unlikely to be the CIA who runs the prosecution, it will probably be a federal prosecutor working for the DOJ. I suspect that either the lawyers don't exactly know what they're doing, or they're simply taking the shot at the CIA because it was CIA agents who committed the violation of their privacy. In either case, it still seems like the wrong forum to get the relief they're looking for.

        --
        Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:04AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:04AM (#1267593) Journal
          It might wreck evidence collection, if the prosecution's case relies on evidence collected during this period. That's iffy since the alleged misdeeds predate the time he was in the embassy. It also publicizes poor decisions made by the US during this time. Spying on the Ecuadorians just because they're hosting the head of Wikileaks has some publicity and diplomatic blowback even if the case gets shot down.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by rpnx on Friday August 19 2022, @02:29PM

    by rpnx (13892) on Friday August 19 2022, @02:29PM (#1267503) Journal

    I am not a lawyer, but I think it's very illegal for the government to obtain attorney client information. That's one of two categories (the other being doctor-patient) that the government cannot obtain even with a warrant. However, previous cases held that the government could force a suspect to testify about a national security issue, but that because doing so was a violation of the 5th amendment, that they couldn't use the information to prosecute them.
    This is interesting though because attorney-client and doctor-patient are both considered privileged, which is higher than the protection given by the 5th Amendment. I suspect it could render the information unusable in court but they would not be able to be sued for damages.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Spook brat on Friday August 19 2022, @03:01PM (1 child)

    by Spook brat (775) on Friday August 19 2022, @03:01PM (#1267506) Journal

    Anyone knowledgeable on the law who can help unpack all the legal angles here (non-US citizen, US lawyers, in an embassy in a foreign country involving a private company)?

    #include .std_disclaimer
    I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. I've been out of the game for a while, so my training may or may not be applicable here. I do, however, have U.S. National Security legal training and field experience, so my opinions may be relevant here.

    To start: everything the CIA does is illegal in the jurisdictions where they operate, pretty much. We may have some sort of Status of Forces Agreement or something SoFA-like in place with Great Britain, but for the most part the CIA does not operate in the realm of "building a case towards criminal prosecution." Instead, their goal is to prevent threat actors (people who want to steal/disclose sensitive information about the US) from having access to the information the Threat is interested in. I have no expectation that they would even care about the civil rights of the people they investigate, or know how to prepare/preserve evidence for a successful Stateside prosecution.

    So now we're in a situation where the Justice department is trying to prosecute Assange in the United States, for crimes against U.S. law committed outside the United States, with evidence that was probably collected with no regard for civil rights of U.S. persons. Here's how I see this shaking out:

    1) Julian Assange is not a U.S. person, so generally is not afforded the benefit of U.S. constitutional protections. In my shop we wouldn't have ever considered prosecuting him: the arm of the law might be long, but the whole "not here, not one of us" issue would have put him out of my jurisdiction, and we'd have focused on his collaborators who were U.S. persons. BUT, since he's being extradited and tried on U.S. soil, stateside rules of evidence and procedures will probably be enforced during the trial. Assange's lawyers will have access to the evidence being brought, and will have an opportunity to make pre-trial motions to suppress anything they think is impermissible under U.S. rules of evidence. Unfortunately for Julian, the judge will probably be sympathetic to the Government's argument that evidence collected against him on foreign soil by the CIA is not covered by constitutional protections.

    2) The lawyers ARE U.S. persons, and in a U.S. prosecution their attorney-client privilege probably WILL be respected by the judge. I expect that any information directly obtained from the meetings between Assange and his lawyers will be ruled inadmissible. The lawyers will probably argue that having their defense strategy laid bare prior to trial is prejudicial against their client, and they have a point. I don't know what way a judge should rule on that, but given the political nature of the case I have trouble seeing a Federal judge simply dismissing all charges and letting Assange walk free. Even worse, the blind eye judges often give to "parallel construction" means that, unless the defense can prove that a specific piece of evidence could only have been obtained using the illegal surveillance of the lawyers as a starting point, the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine won't apply and most of the evidence brought by the Feds will be ruled admissible.

    3) The fact that the surveillance happened in the UK or at an Ecuadorean Embassy pretty much doesn't matter. The relevant question would be, "is the subject of the investigation a U.S. person and therefore afforded constitutional protection." Assange: no. U.S. Lawyers: yes. The Brits and the Ecuadoreans have a right to complain, and if they can identify a specific agent who they think acted badly that agent can be tagged with "persona non grata" status and deported from Britain/Ecuador/Ecuadorean Embassy property as the case may be; however, generally they have no recourse against the CIA doing what the CIA does. Again, most of what the CIA does is illegal in the locations where it occurs, and they do it because the host nations don't have the ability to detect or prevent it. Welcome to the world of International Espionage.

    4) The private company, if contracted by the CIA to do the surveillance, will be ruled to have been acting under color of law. The CIA cannot pay someone to do its dirty work and then say that rules against U.S. Government agencies intruding on U.S. persons' privacy don't apply to the information obtained. That's not a thing. See point 1 about how much the CIA generally cares about such things. The courts, though, generally do care, so if the Feds try to admit evidence found that way they may have an uphill battle keeping it admissible during trial (see point 2).

    All that being said, I would not have chosen to prosecute this. The legal basis for the prosecution is shaky: he's being charged under the U.S. Espionage act. Basically the Feds are arguing that Assange was effectively trespassing on U.S. soil when he helped someone else break into U.S. data systems to steal the data he published. I find that... questionable. Yes, crimes committed in America by non-citizens are prosecutable in the relevant jurisdiction. Yes, U.S. data systems located on foreign soil in a U.S. run facility are arguably under Federal jurisdiction. Assange, however, did not personally step into that facility, nor did he log into those systems. The target of prosecution here should be the U.S. citizen who is subject to U.S. law, has signed a confidentiality agreement as a condition of being granted access to the data system, and then exceeded their access limitations and unlawfully removed data from the system and facility. I've never heard that person's name. Assange knows who it is, and like any good journalist is protecting their source. The Feds are understandably angry about this, but I have doubts that the Act applies to Assange personally. Criminal conspiracy? Maybe, I guess? I'd have to ask someone who knows a LOT more than me how to make that charge stick.

    The correct course of action from the CIA would have been to closely monitor Assange's future actions and aggressively investigate any U.S. person he contacts in the future. There are many ways besides prosecution to prevent Assange from having future access to sensitive information, including revoking the security clearance of any Federal employee who ever talks to him. They wouldn't even need to give a reason, the clearance would simply evaporate and the employee would suddenly be looking for a non-government job. It would be polite to warn the intel community in advance, but I could see the CIA choosing to make a public example of someone first. Naturally Assange would never be allowed on U.S. soil again in his life.

    Alternately, if the Feds knew they were seeking prosecution then a different agency (like the Defense Intelligence Agency or one of its branches), who has experience actually prosecuting Espionage cases in court, should have been sent to do the job. I can see this going wrong a bunch of different ways for the Feds' case. Not sure if it will be enough to get Assange declared "Not Guilty", but time will tell.

    --
    Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:16AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:16AM (#1267595) Journal

      and if they can identify a specific agent who they think acted badly that agent can be tagged with "persona non grata" status and deported from Britain/Ecuador/Ecuadorean Embassy property as the case may be

      While not likely in this case, sanctions can go on to any interests of the offending country. A typical escalation might be to kick out suspected agents or even every government employee (such as the ritual cleaning out of embassy staff during the Cold War when some significant offense occurred), or even penalties against various interests of parties associated with the country (tariffs or trade treaty complaints, restricting citizens from the country, for example).

      I see three possible avenues for how this case could matter in the larger scheme of things: generate positive publicity for Assange's main case, throw out evidence on the basis of illegal collection, and perhaps, a little opportunity for discovery - a lot of time FOIA requests can only happen once the requester is aware of the information source (repeated requests to eventually discover basic information aren't rare).

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JustNiz on Friday August 19 2022, @04:28PM (1 child)

    by JustNiz (1573) on Friday August 19 2022, @04:28PM (#1267523)

    Even though US laws are written so wide-open to the government's benefit, even the are ignored whenever they feel like it.
    If you still think the US is the "land of the free" you must be either entirely brainwashed or smoking something.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:39AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 20 2022, @12:39AM (#1267599) Journal
      Freedom is not a bit you set. Sure, they can screw with you Assange-style, but it has substantial costs associated with that. Even the US government can't afford many of those.
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