No reporter had ever been successfully prosecuted on a conspiracy charge but that recent actions, like the investigation of a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, was evidence that the government was “moving toward criminalizing the reporting process.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/world/europe/wikileaks-back-in-news-never-left-us-radar.html?hpw&_r=0 The Justice Department “and its accompanying F.B.I. investigation are blinded by their zeal to get rid of publishers who speak truth to power”, Julian Assange said in a recent statement. “They believe U.S. agencies can flout laws, coerce people into becoming informants, steal our property and detain our alleged sources without trial,”
In June 2011, Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s minister of the interior at the time, received an urgent message from the authorities in the United States. It said that “there was an imminent attack on Icelandic government databases” by hackers, and that the F.B.I. would send agents to investigate, Mr. Jonasson said in a telephone interview.
But when “eight or nine” F.B.I. agents arrived in August, Mr. Jonasson said, he found that they were not investigating an imminent attack, but gathering material on WikiLeaks, the activist group that has been responsible for publishing millions of confidential documents over the past three years, and that has many operatives in Iceland.
Mr. Jonasson asked the agents to leave, he said, because they had misrepresented the purpose of their visit.
The investigation has largely been carried out in secret, as most are, but a few clues have emerged. In December 2010, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia requested Twitter account information for Private Manning, Mr. Assange and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks activist and now a member of Iceland’s Parliament, among others.
A redacted version of the subpoena served on Ms. Jonsdottir cited a specific conspiracy provision that may have been aimed at those thought to have assisted Private Manning.
But Mr. Assange, and those around him, are convinced that, link or no, he is at risk of being extradited to the United States.
“Julian is in an incredibly unfair situation where he has not been charged with a crime in any country and the United States continues to place him in legal jeopardy by refusing to discuss the status of that investigation,” said Jennifer Robinson, a member of his legal team in London, adding. “He is in a no man’s land.”
“There are people who say he is being paranoid or unreasonable, but that does not mean that they are not out to get him,” said Daniel Ellsberg, who was charged with releasing the Pentagon Papers, charges that were dismissed after there was evidence of illegal wiretapping by the government. “A grand jury has been convened, an investigation is under way, and I would be surprised if they did not go after him.”
The prosecution of WikiLeaks would put the administration into tricky legal territory. WikiLeaks is an international organization, and, unlike Private Manning and Mr. Snowden, Mr. Assange and the other members did not work for the United States government or its contractors and could not be charged with espionage.
“Given the government’s aggression in the Snowden case, I would expect that the government will continue to move forward with the Assange case on a conspiracy theory, even though WikiLeaks would seem eligible for First Amendment protections,”