(on 2012-09-26)

Background for UN Talk - Ongoing Investigation into WikiLeaks

Wednesday 26 September, 12pm BST

Ahead of Julian Assange's address to the UN on Wednesday 26th September 2012 we are publishing some facts about the US investigation and Grand Jury into WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. This includes facts on the investigation and legal cases into Assange and WikiLeaks and the persecution of the organisation, its founder and associates by US officials and government departments.

Scale of the US Grand Jury Investigation of WikiLeaks

The US Government has stood up and coordinated a joint interagency criminal investigation of Wikileaks comprised of a partnership between the Department of Defense (DOD) including: CENTCOM; SOUTHCOM; the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA); Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA); US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for USFI (US Forces Iraq) and 1st Armored Division (AD); US Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU); 2nd Army (US Army Cyber Command); Within that or in addition, three military intelligence investigations were conducted. Department of Justice (DOJ) Grand Jury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of State (DOS) and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). In addition, Wikileaks has been investigated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Office of the National CounterIntelligence Executive (ONCIX), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the House Oversight Committee; the National Security Staff Interagency Committee, and the PIAB (President's Intelligence Advisory Board). LINK Transcript see also

Department of Justice

US Attorney General, Eric Holder said on November 29, 2010: “'To the extent that we can find anybody who was involved in the breaking of American law, who put at risk the assets and the people I have described, they will be held responsible; they will be held accountable,' Holder said at a news conference on another topic. He called the WikiLeaks probe 'an active, ongoing criminal investigation.'” LINK

US Attorney General, Eric Holder on December 6, 2010 remarked that “there were significant things” that he “personally authorized” regarding Wikileaks. Holder called the WikiLeaks probe an “active, ongoing criminal investigation.'” Holder said, “We have a very serious, active ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature.” Holder said, that the Espionage Act of 1917 is “certainly something that might play a role, but there are other statutes, other tools that we have our disposal.” LINK

US Attorney General, Eric Holder said on December 6, 2010: “It is an ongoing investigation. I don't want to get into exactly what I authorized, but I can say that I personally authorized a number of things last week and I think that is an indication of the seriousness with which we take this matter and the highest level involvement in the Unites States Department of Justice. With regard to all the tactics that we can do or can use to ameliorate the consequences of these actions I don't want to get into those as well, but we will do everything that we can both to hold people accountable, and to minimize the harm that will befall American people.” LINK

US Attorney General, Eric Holder said on December 6, 2010 declined to comment on what the US Department of Justice capabilities were: “Well as I said, I don't want to get into what our capabilities are. At this point I will simply say what I have just said. We have a very serious criminal investigation that is underway, and we are looking at all the things that we can do to try to stem the flow of this information.” LINK

US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Neil Macbride, in charge of the Grand Jury investigating Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, cites the Attorney General's November 29, 2010 statement confirming the existence of a Grand Jury investigation of WikiLeaks in the US Government's Twitter “In Re Application of the USA For an Order Pursuant to 18 USC § 2703(d): “The Attorney General publicly confirmed the existence of an investigation into disclosures of classified information made by WikiLeaks on November 29, 2010.” LINK Page 6, Footnote 2

Department of Justice spokesperson Dean Boyd confirms that the Department of Justice investigation is ongoing to AFP reporter Dan De Luce on June 30, 2012: "There continues to be an investigation into the WikiLeaks matter." LINK

Grand Jury Testimony

When Pfc. Bradley Manning's defense offered the Court two sample portions of “unclassified” Grand Jury testimony, in order to illustrate to the military judge the kind of evidence they were receiving from the US Government, the lead counsel for the US Government jumped up, interrupted the Court, and instructed the Judge that the “unclassified” rolling black redactions were still under seal, and under the military judge's “protective order and an Article 3 Judge's protective order and should be sealed and not held around in Court, and should be stamped as such.” Major Ashden Fein said that “portions” of the Grand Jury testimony were provided to the defense only for limited purposes by US Assistant Attorneys in Alexandria, Virginia investigating Julian Assange and others. LINK Transcript See also

Federal Bureau of Investigation

“Private First Class Manning is a piece of the FBI File,” said lead US Government military prosecutor at the June 6, 2012 Article 39(a) hearing of US v. Pfc. Bradley Manning. The FBI file, Major Fein said, was “42,135 pages or 3,475 documents” the entirety of which is classified. The US Government said that Manning only represents 8,741 pages or 636 different documents in that FBI investigative file. The FBI file does not include the Grand Jury testimony. LINK Transcript

On July 28, 2010, one month after Pfc. Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq, the FBI opened an “official” criminal investigation into the editor and chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, partnering with the joint investigation of the US Defense Department and the US Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. LINK

The Department of Defense partnered with the FBI and the Department of Justice to ensure that the investigation goes “wherever it needs to go.” The Secretary of Defense said, “having the FBI involved as a partner was very important in terms of leaving open the full scope of a possible investigation” of criminal charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. LINK

Grand Jury Subpoenas

There are two publicly reported subpoenas for the WikiLeaks Grand Jury:

Subpoena 11-3 /10GJ3793/ 11-1685m, Letter Re 11-3/ 10GJ3793, David House, requested by Tracy McCormick, Assistant US Attorney, Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) LINK

Subpoena 11-3/ 10GJ3793/ 11-1233, Letter Re 11-3/ 10GJ3793 / 11-937, Unnamed Cambridge Resident, requested by Andrew Peterson, Assistant US Attorney, National Security and Terrorism Division LINK

Grand Jury’s number is “10” standing for the year it began. “GJ” which is Grand Jury and then 3793. “3” is the Conspiracy Statute in the United States. “793” is the Espionage Statute.

According to the two publicly reported subpoenas cited above the Grand Jury investigating WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in Alexandria, VA is investigating: "possible violations of federal criminal law involving, but not necessarily limited to conspiracy to communicate or transmit national defense information in violation of 18 USC 793(g) and conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States, in violation of 18 USC. 371 to wit; knowingly accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access and having obtained information protected from disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations in violation of 18 USC 1030(a) and knowingly stealing or converting any record of thing of value of the United States or any department or agency thereof in violation of 18 USC 641 " LINK See also See also See also

David House's Account of his testimony at the Grand Jury LINK

The FBI is targeting seven civilians for criminal activity and/or espionage. Those individuals include the "founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks," according to the testimony of Special Agent Mark Mander from US Army's Computer Crime Investigative Unit (CCIU) at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing of US v Pfc. Bradley Manning:

Defense: Whom else did you uncover doing wrongdoing? Mander: Seven other civilians. The FBI is potentially involved. I do not know what the FBI has determined. Defense: Do they include the founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks? Was WikiLeaks in this case? Mander: Yes they are involved in certain aspects. LINK Transcript

US District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia forces Twitter to hand over records that the Department of Justice US Attorney deems relevant and material to a Department of Justice criminal investigation of WikiLeaks

On December 14, 2010 Theresa Buchanan, a US Magistrate Judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, ordered Twitter to turn over to the US Government, the non-content communication information of Julian Assange; WikiLeaks; Bradley Manning; Jacob Appelbaum, a developer for the Tor project; Rop Gonggrijp, described in court papers as a Dutch activist and businessman; and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament. Link See also See also

On January 5, 2011, the Court orders that the original December 14, 2010 Court Order be unsealed, which thereby authorizing Twitter to disclose its existence to its subscribers. Link See also

On January 4, 2012, District Judge Liam O'Grady denies the petitioners' motion to stay the original December 14, 2010 Court Order and rules that Twitter hand over the information for Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp, and Birgitta Jonsdottir. LINK

US Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia forces Dyndaot to hand over records that the Department of Justice US Attorney deems relevant and material to a Department of Justice criminal investigation of WikiLeaks

On January 4, 2011, US magistrate judge Ivan D. Davis signs a Secret Court Order issued to Dynadot, domain registrars for WikiLeaks.org for all information they hold on WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks.org between November 1, 2009 and January 4, 2011. LINK

Witnesses stopped

David House
In June 2010, David House says he is questioned both at his home and place of work in Cambridge, MA by unnamed investigators for the US Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. LINK

Beginning in September 2010, according to his lawsuit against the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security; Commissioner, US Customs and Border Protection; and Director, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, David House “has been placed on a watch list which has resulted in his being stopped for questioning and searched each time that he enters the United States following foreign travel.” LINK

On November 3, 2010, David House and his girlfriend are met and examined in the concourse of Chicago O'Hara by unnamed customs agents, who extensively search their bags. They are detained for questioning by two men, Marcial Santiago and Darin Louck, who identified themselves as Homeland Security Agents. House subsequently learned from Agent Santiago that although Agent Louck identified himself as a Homeland Security agent, he is, in fact, with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. House's electronic products were seized at a "border search". Link See also See also

Jacob Appelbaum
On June 16, 2010, five DHS Agents show up at HOPE conference looking for keynote speaker, Julian Assange, who was in fact unable to attend and replaced by Jacob Appelbaum. According to “Eric Corley, publisher of 2600 Magazine and organizer of The Next HOPE conference in midtown Manhattan, said five Homeland Security agents appeared at the conference a day before WikiLeaks Editor in Chief Assange was scheduled to speak.” LINK

On July 29, 2010, Jacob Appelbaum is detained at Newark Liberty International Airport, and questioned about Assange for three hours by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security, and Army CID. His laptop and three cell phones were seized. LINK See also

On August 1, 2010, two unnamed FBI agents question Jacob Appelbaum at the Defcon conference after his presentation about the Tor Project. The two FBI agents question Appelbaum at Defcon in the presence of Marcia Hoffman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. When he asks if his equipment seized at the airport on July 29, 2010 would be returned, the agents said, “We aren't involved in that; we have no idea.” LINK

On January 10, 2011 Jacob Appelbaum is detained searched, and questioned by the US Customs and Border Patrol agents at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon re-entering country from Iceland. LINK

Jennifer Robinson
Jennifer Robinson, lawyer to Julian Assange was stopped and initially prevented from boarding a plane. LINK

Jeremie Zimmerman and Smari McCarthy
A friend of Julian Assange, Jeremie Zimmerman, who had just filmed an episode for Julian Assange's TV show was stopped and questioned when entering the US. Smari McCarthy, once a WikiLeaks volunteer, has also been stopped while entering the US. McCarthy was later approached by three US officials in Washington DC, and asked to become an informer. LINK

Notable Statements

White House

White House on November 29, 2010: "[T]he stealing of classified information and its dissemination is a crime," and "WikiLeaks and people that disseminate information to people like this are criminals." Robert Gibbs says elsewhere, "[T]hose that have been involved in the stealing of and the dissemination of this information are criminals.” LINK

In answer to a questions as to whether the administration will take legal action against WikiLeaks, White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs said, "Obviously there is an ongoing criminal investigation about the stealing of and the dissemination of sensitive and classified information. Secondly, under the administration — or I would say — should say administration wide, we are looking at a whole host of things, and I wouldn’t rule anything out." LINK

The Vice-President of the United States, Joseph Biden, said on “Meet the Press” on December 19, 2010, Julian Assange is “closer to being a high tech terrorist than, than the Pentagon Papers.” LINK

Department of Defense

The US Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch of the US Army's Counterintelligence Center published a Counterintelligence Analysis Report in 2008 under the auspices of the Department of Defense Intelligence Analysis Program about WikiLeaks. The US Army's Counterintelligence report recommended that the “identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers,” because those actions could potentially damage or destroy” the “center of gravity,” that is “trust”, thereby deterring “others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site.” The purpose of the report was assessing “the counterintelligence threat posed to the US Army by the Wikileaks.org Web site,” and concluded that WikiLeaks was “subject to criminal sanctions” for “unauthorized disclosure” of “National Security Information.” LINK

The authenticity of the report was confirmed by Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, an Army spokesman. LINK

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell on April 24, 2011: “It is unfortunate that several news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by Wikileaks concerning the Guantanamo (GTMO) detention facility. These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.” LINK

Department of State

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State on November 29, 2010: "The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information."

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State on November 29, 2010: “So let’s be clear: this disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.” LINK

Senator Lieberman (R), Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee
“Wikileaks’ deliberate disclosure of these diplomatic cables is nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries. By disseminating these materials, Wikileaks is putting at risk the lives and the freedom of countless Americans and non-Americans around the world. It is an outrageous, reckless, and despicable action that will undermine the ability of our government and our partners to keep our people safe and to work together to defend our vital interests. Let there be no doubt: the individuals responsible are going to have blood on their hands. I stand in full support of the Obama Administration’s condemnation of Wikileaks for these disclosures. I also urge the Obama Administration — both on its own and in cooperation with other responsible governments around the world — to use all legal means necessary to shut down Wikileaks before it can do more damage by releasing additional cables. Wikileaks’ activities represent a shared threat to collective international security.” LINK

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Senator Dianne Feinstein Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, member Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an op-ed on December 7, 2010, entitled “Prosecute Assange Under the Espionage Act”: “When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released his latest document trove—more than 250,000 secret State Department cables—he intentionally harmed the U.S. government. The release of these documents damages our national interests and puts innocent lives at risk. He should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage. The law Mr. Assange continues to violate is the Espionage Act of 1917. That law makes it a felony for an unauthorized person to possess or transmit 'information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.'” LINK

Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election and governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin (R)
Palin wrote on her Facebook page on November 30, 2010 that Julian Assange is an “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” and “questioned why the US authorities were not looking for him in the same way that it had hunted suspected terrorists.” According to the report by Martin Beckford at the Telegraph, Palin “She accused the Obama administration of 'incompetence' and a 'strange lack of urgency' in not stopping the release of 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, given that it had already published sensitive information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” LINK

Congressman Pete King (R), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, member or the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Representative Peter King's (NY) November 29, 2010 Letter to Secretary of State Clinton demanding WikiLeaks be designated a terrorist organization, Letter to the US Attorney General demanding Julian Assange be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, 18 USC § 793. LINK

Congresswoman Candice Miller (R), member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Unmanned Systems Caucus on December 1, 2010
“It is time that the Obama administration treats WikiLeaks for what it is—a terrorist organization, whose continued operation threatens our security. Shut it down. Shut it down. It is time to shut down this terrorist organization, this terrorist Web site, WikiLeaks. Shut it down. It is time to shut down this terrorist organization, this terrorist Web site, WikiLeaks. Shut it down, Attorney General Holder." LINK

Senator Mitch McConnell (R), Minority Leader and member Senate Seclect Intelligence Committeenand the Senate Appropriations Committee called Assange is a “high-tech terrorist” on “Meet the Press” on December 5, 2010

Senate Intelligence Committee Press Release to Prosecute Assange on December 3, 2010

Representative Steven King of Iowa to Congressman Doug Lamborn (R) and Mr. Trent Franks of Arizona on November 30, 2010
“[I]t's a pretty sticky constitutional question on how we would deal with American citizens in that category [material support], but it's not when we deal with someone like Julian Assange. An Australian citizen could be put into that category, moved over to a place offshore of the United States outside of the jurisdiction of the Federal courts, the civilian Federal courts in the United States, and adjudicated under a military tribunal in a fashion that was designed by this Congress and directed by this Congress.” LINK

John B. Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to the State Department and the National Security Council
John B. Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to the State Department and the National Security Council says US should extradite from UK or wait till Julian Assange is in Sweden on December 13, 2011: “The Swedish warrant doesn't necessarily have precedence. The U.S. government must be considering that if it brings charges against Assange—and I expect that they will do so, if they have not, in fact, already secured sealed indictments—it should ask for Assange's extradition from the UK or wait for him to be extradited to Sweden and then request his extradition from Sweden. And they are certainly looking at the technical aspects of the two extradition agreements between the UK and Sweden and then considering the political and legal atmosphere in both places.” LINK

Senator Newt Gingrich (R), candidate for the Republican party presidential nomination, former speaker of the US House of Representatives
On December 3, 2010, Newt Gingrich, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former speaker of the House and a recent Republican candidate for president said that Julian Assange should be treated as an 'enemy combatant' and that the NSA should close down WikiLeaks: "What we should do is treat Assange as an enemy combatant. Information warfare is warfare. The National Security Agency should close down that site, keep it closed down. Every time they try to reopen it under a new name, they should close it down. We should wage active information warfare against any effort to release American secrets." LINK

Senator Lieberman, Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Senator Lieberman statement of Amazon on December 1, 2010
“This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the Wikileaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on Wikileaks' previous publication of classified material. The company’s decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organization that is hosting Wikileaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. Wikileaks’ illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company – whether American or foreign – should assist Wikileaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with Wikileaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information.” LINK

PayPal influenced by State Department statement concerning illegality of WikiLeaks
PayPal’s VP of Platform Osama Bedier said, “We have an acceptable use policy and their job is make sure that our customers are protected, making sure that we comply with regulations around the world and making sure that we protect our brand. Bedier also said that PayPal’s decision was influenced by the fact that the State Department deemed WikiLeaks illegal in a letter sent on November 27th [by Harold Koh, Legal Adviser of the Department of State, to Julian Assange and Jennifer Robinson], a statement that was not followed up on by Yiannopoulos. It is still unclear what exact US laws WikiLeaks is breaking.” LINK

“'On 27 November the State Department, the US government, basically wrote a letter [to Wikileaks] saying that [its] activities were deemed illegal in the United States,' PayPal's Osama Bedier told the Le Web conference in France.
'And as a result our policy group had to make the decision of suspending their account.' 'It's honestly, just pretty straightforward from our perspective and there's not much more to it than that,' he said.' LINK

Anonymous Congressional Officials to Reuters about State Department late 2010 Congressional Briefing regarding WikiLeaks
“no damage” and “bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers”. An anonymous congressional “familiar with the late 2010 briefings” by the US State Department, told Reuters, “We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging.” LINK

“A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.” LINK

emailSend to Friend printPrint