The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has published an internal email from the private intelligence firm Stratfor that suggests the U.S. Justice Department has obtained a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The email is one of around five million obtained from Stratfor’s servers by the hacker group, Anonymous. “Somehow you have a private intelligence company, Stratfor, a ‘shadow CIA,’ as people have called it, having information about this sealed indictment—secret again—that Julian Assange doesn’t have, that WikiLeaks doesn’t have, that his lawyers don’t have,” says Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is a legal adviser to both Assange and to WikiLeaks. “What you see here is secrecy, secrecy, secrecy.” News of the indictment comes less than a week after Army Private Bradley Manning was arraigned for allegedly leaking classified U.S. military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks.
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has published an internal email from the private intelligence firm Stratfor that suggests the Justice Department has obtained a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In an email dated January 26, 2011, the vice president of Stratfor, Fred Burton, wrote, quote, “We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect,” unquote.
On Monday, WikiLeaks began publishing more than five million emails from Stratfor’s servers that were obtained by the hacker group Anonymous. The Justice Department has not confirmed the existence of the secret indictment, but it had been previously reported that a secret grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, met in 2010 and ’11 to consider criminal charges against Assange. Legal experts say the Justice Department could charge Assange under the Espionage Act for disseminating classified U.S. State Department cables and other information.
On Tuesday, Assange released a statement condemning U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for conducting the secret grand jury. Assange said, quote, “This neo-McCarthyist witch hunt against WikiLeaks may be Mr Holder’s defining legacy. Any student of American history knows that secret justice is no justice at all. Justice must be seen to be done… Secret Grand Juries with secret indictments are apparently Eric Holder’s preferred method of dealing with publishers who hold his administration to account. Eric Holder has betrayed the legacy of Madison and Jefferson. He should drop the case or resign,” said Assange.
The news of the possible indictment against Assange comes less than a week after U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning was arraigned for leaking classified military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks. The 24-year-old Manning was formally charged with 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet, and theft of public property.
Joining us now is Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He was at Bradley Manning’s arraignment and is a legal adviser to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He’s the co-author of the book Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st-Century America