By Kevin Gosztola
The United States government expanded their indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to criminalize the assistance WikiLeaks provided to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when staff helped him leave Hong Kong.
Sarah Harrison, who was a section editor for WikiLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former spokesperson, and Jacob Appelbaum, a digital activist who represented WikiLeaks at conferences, are targeted as “co-conspirators” in the indictment [PDF], though neither have been charged with offenses.
No charges were added. However, it significantly expands the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge and accuses Assange of conspiring with “hackers” affiliated with “Anonymous,” “LulzSec,” “AntiSec,” and “Gnosis.”
The computer crime charge is not limited to March 2010 anymore. It covers conduct that allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2015.
Prosecutors rely heavily on statements and chat logs from Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson and Hector Xavier Monsegur (“Sabu”), who were both FBI informants, in order to expand the scope of the prosecution.
In March, Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed the grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, that was investigating WikiLeaks. U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who refused to testify before the grand jury, was released from jail after spending about a year in confinement for “civil contempt.” She was still ordered to pay $256,000 in fines.
Activist Jeremy Hammond, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in the hack against the intelligence consulting firm Stratfor, refused to testify as well. Trenga ordered his release, and he was transferred back into the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
Prosecutors accuse Assange and other WikiLeaks staffers of engaging in “efforts to recruit system administrators” to leak information to their media organization.
WikiLeaks Openly Displayed ‘Attempts To Assist Snowden In Evading Arrest’
“To encourage leakers and hackers to provide stolen materials to WikiLeaks in the future, Assange and others at WikiLeaks openly displayed their attempts to assist Snowden in evading arrest,” the indictment declares.
It notes Harrison (“WLA-4”) traveled with Snowden to Moscow from Hong Kong, leaving out the part where the State Department revoked his passport and trapped him in Russia.
During an interview for “Democracy Now!” in September 2016, Sarah Harrison said WikiLeaks understood Snowden was in a “very complex legal and political situation” and needed “some people to assist with technical and operational security expertise.”
“I went over there, as the person on the ground in Hong Kong, to help him, not only for him, himself, because he had clearly done something so brave and deserved the protection, I felt, but also for the larger objective to try and show that despite [President Barack] Obama’s war on whistleblowers, that actually there was another option” […]