Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that the United States considers WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange an enemy of the state. Soldiers who contact Mr. Assange or WikiLeaks could be charged with communicating with an enemy. Members of the military found guilty of such communication could be sentenced to death in a military court of law.
Technically, this status puts Mr. Assange and his site on the same legal footing as the Taliban.
As Australia’s National Times reports, the government’s view of the whistle-blowing organization and its founder was revealed in documents regarding an investigation into an Air Force officer’s actions while stationed overseas:
The documents, some originally classified “Secret/NoForn” – not releasable to non-US nationals – record a probe by the air force’s Office of Special Investigations into a cyber systems analyst based in Britain who allegedly expressed support for WikiLeaks and attended pro-Assange demonstrations in London.
The counter-intelligence investigation focused on whether the analyst, who had a top-secret security clearance and access to the US military’s Secret Internet Protocol Router network, had disclosed classified or sensitive information to WikiLeaks supporters, described as an “anti-US and/or anti-military group”.
The case was closed and no charges were filed, but the unnamed female analyst was cut off from further access to classified data.
The case documents are interesting reading, though they have been heavily redacted. The subject of the investigation was said to be “obsessed” with Julian Assange and sympathetic to PFC Bradley Manning, the soldier who is currently awaiting trial for allegations he gave classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.
The Australian paper contacted Mr. Assange’s American attorney, Michael Ratner, who said that based on his interpretation of the documents, “It appears that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the ‘enemy’. An enemy is dealt with under the laws of war, which could include killing, capturing, detaining without trial, etc.”
WikiLeaks addressed the investigation on a page published Wednesday, writing that an allegation “of ‘Communicating with the Enemy’ indicates the extremely serious threat Julian Assange and WikiLeaks face from the United States.” The statement goes on to say:
Therefore the term “Communicating with the Enemy” would appear to show that the US government term Mr Assange and WikiLeaks the “enemy”. By deeming them the “enemy” they can be treated under the laws of war which could include killing, capturing, detaining without trial etc.
Mr. Assange gave a video address to the United Nations Thursday, in which he talked about the Manning case and said that the “United States is not the enemy,” but it is “time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks, to cease its persecution of our people, and to cease its persecution of our alleged sources.”
Mr. Assange, who faces accusations he sexually molested two women in Sweden in 2010, remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
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