prison

Political consultant W. Samuel Patten, who pleaded guilty to illegally steering foreign money to President Trump’s inaugural committee, was sentenced to probation by a federal judge Friday, avoiding any jail time.

The investigation into Patten was a spin off of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she considered Patten’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation in handing down a lenient sentence. In addition to the three-year probation, Jackson also sentenced Patten to 500 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine. The sentence is so far the most lenient sentence handed down to a guilty plea resulting from the Trump-Russia probe.

“I fully recognize the seriousness of my conduct and the crimes that I committed,” Patten said to Jackson just before the sentencing. “I behaved as though the law didn’t apply to me and that was wrong.”

Patten, 47, who worked closely with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was charged last year by federal authorities with failing to register as a foreign agent when he steered $50,000 from a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician to Trump’s inauguration. The complaint filed against Patten alleged that he worked as an unregistered agent from 2014-2018, violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

“None of them were minor and all of them were absolutely intentional,” Jackson said of the violations. “This isn’t a mere technicality and it wasn’t an oversight. You hid and misrepresented the true nature of the work on behalf of the Ukrainian party. I’m probably most troubled by that because it goes beyond the failure to register.”

The maximum sentence for his charge is five years in federal prison.

[ Read more: Chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee to cooperate with House investigation]

LONDON (AP) — What is expected to be an epic legal and political battle over whether to extradite Julian Assange to the U.S. began to take shape, with Britain’s opposition Labour Party urging the government Friday not to hand the WikiLeaks founder over to the Americans.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that the U.S. is prosecuting Assange because he exposed “evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Diane Abbott, Labour’s spokeswoman for domestic affairs, said the case is about the “embarrassment of the things he’s revealed about the American military and security services.”

On Thursday, British authorities dragged the 47-year-old Australian native from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had taken refuge for nearly seven years, and U.S. authorities announced charges against him of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer.

The politicization of the case reflects the clashing views of Assange as either a heroic whistleblower standing up to the mighty United States or a willing stooge who helped the Russians boost Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by publishing emails that embarrassed his rival, Hillary Clinton.

The battle to fend off extradition could take years and involve several layers of appeal. Assange could also face a second extradition request if Sweden decides to pursue a rape case against him that was dropped in 2017, when he was holed up in the embassy, beyond the reach of the law.

His arrest became possible after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, complaining among other things that he was a messy and disruptive houseguest.

If found guilty of the U.S. charges, Assange could get five years in prison. His next court appearance was set for May 2 via a prison video link.

Extradition lawyer Ben Keith said the court will not assess the evidence against Assange to determine his guilt or innocence but will scrutinize whether the offense he is accused of in the U.S. would be a crime in Britain.

“The most likely outcome is that he will be extracted to the United States,” he said.

Britain is bound by law not to extradite a suspect to a country where he or she could face execution for the crime, but that’s not the case here.

Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, stressed when he revoked Assange’s asylum that he had received assurances from Britain that Assange would not be exposed to capital punishment.

If Sweden also makes an extradition request, it would be up to Britain’s Home Secretary to determine which would take priority. Typically the first request made — in this case, the U.S. one — would be acted on first, but officials have some leeway, Keith said.

If Assange loses in extradition court, he could appeal several times and ultimately try to have his case heard at the European Court of Human Rights.


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the UK government should not extradite Julian Assange to the US, where he faces a computer hacking charge.

The Wikileaks co-founder was arrested for a separate charge at Ecuador’s London embassy on Thursday, where he had been granted asylum since 2012.

Mr Corbyn said Assange should not be extradited “for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s leader expressed anger at how Assange had behaved.

Australian-born Assange, 47, sought refuge in the Knightsbridge embassy seven years ago, to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. But Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest Assange on Thursday.

After his dramatic arrest, he was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court and found guilty of a British charge of breaching bail. He spent Thursday night in custody and is facing up to 12 months in prison for that conviction.

The Met said it cost an estimated £13.2m to police Ecuador’s London embassy between June 2012 and October 2015, when the force withdrew the physical presence of officers.

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The Swedish authorities are now considering whether to reopen an investigation into the allegations of sexual assault, which Assange denies.

The US government has also charged him with allegations of conspiracy to break into a computer, relating to a massive leak of classified US government documents. The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, and if he was convicted, he could face up to five years in jail.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “this is all about Wikileaks and all of that embarrassing information about the activities of the American military and security services that was made public”.

But she said Assange should also face the criminal justice system if the Swedish government charged him.

Swedish prosecutors dropped a rape investigation into Assange into 2017 because they were unable to formally notify him of the allegations – a necessary step in proceeding with the case – while he remained in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Assange battle ‘now political’

In a tweet, Mr Corbyn shared a video said to be of Pentagon footage – which had been released by Wikileaks – of a 2007 air strike which implicated US military in the killing of civilians and two journalists.

The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale said backing Assange is not without political risk and will not find universal favour among Labour MPs – but Mr Corbyn’s intervention “means the battle over Assange’s future will now be as much political as it is legal”.

The editor of Wikileaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, has expressed fears that the US could file more serious charges against Assange, and that if he was convicted he could be behind bars for “decades”.

Mr Hrafnsson added that Assange had been thrown “overboard” by Ecuador – and the country was “horrible” to treat him like that.

‘He was a problem’

Meanwhile in Ecuador, President Lenin Moreno criticised Assange, claiming that after spending seven years in the country’s embassy he had dismissed Ecuador by describing it as an insignificant country.

“We had treated him as a guest,” he said. “But not anymore.”

Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK, Jaime Marchan, also previously said Assange had been “continually a problem” while he was living in the embassy.

Meanwhile, a man who is alleged to have links with Assange has been arrested while trying to leave Ecuador, the country’s officials said.

The man – who has been identified by supporters as a Swedish software developer called Ola Bini – had been trying to board a flight to Japan.

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Assange is due to face a hearing over his possible extradition to the US on 2 May.

During a briefing at the White House following Assange’s arrest, US President Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he stood by remarks that he made during his election campaign when he said he loved Wikileaks.

“I know nothing about Wikileaks,” said Mr Trump. “It’s not my thing.”

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He added: “I’ve been seeing what happened with Assange and that will be a determination, I would imagine, mostly by the attorney general, who’s doing an excellent job.”

Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set a “dangerous precedent” where any journalist could face US charges for “publishing truthful information about the United States”.

She said she had visited Assange in the police cells where he thanked supporters and said: “I told you so.”

Assange had predicted that he would face extradition to the US if he left the embassy.

Meanwhile, Australia said it had received a request for consular assistance after Assange was taken from the embassy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Assange will not get “special treatment” and will have to “make his way through whatever comes his way in terms of the justice system”.

The arrest was welcomed by the government on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: “This goes to show that in the UK, no-one is above the law.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the arrest was the result of “years of careful diplomacy” and that it was “not acceptable” for someone to “escape facing justice”.

Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.

The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website. She said she only did so to spark debates about foreign policy, but US officials said the leak put lives at risk.

She was found guilty by a court martial in 2013 of charges including espionage. However, her jail sentence was later commuted.

Manning was recently jailed for refusing to testify before an investigation into Wikileaks’ role in revealing the secret files.

JULIAN Assange’s dating profile from 2006 has been unearthed – where he branded himself a “pig-headed intellectual” and “87 per cent slut”.

The then 36-year-old created the profile on OkCupid in December, shortly after launching infamous WikiLeaks, the site that would land him fame and finally arrest.

 Julian Assange winked and gave a thumbs up from the police van as he arrived at court following the dramatic arrest yesterday morning

Getty Images – Getty

Julian Assange winked and gave a thumbs up from the police van as he arrived at court following the dramatic arrest yesterday morning
 Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a profile on dating site OKCupid, under the pseudo name Harry Harrison

Ok Cupid

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a profile on dating site OKCupid, under the pseudo name Harry Harrison
 Despite not using his real name, the pictures on 'Harry Harrison’s' page appear to confirm that this really is Julian Assange

Ok Cupid

Despite not using his real name, the pictures on ‘Harry Harrison’s’ page appear to confirm that this really is Julian Assange
 The fact that the page hasn’t been accessed since Jan 2007 adds to the likelihood that it’s the real deal

Ok Cupid

The fact that the page hasn’t been accessed since Jan 2007 adds to the likelihood that it’s the real deal

Assange is now facing decades in prison after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in a dramatic arrest in London last night.

He’s expected to face charges in the US after prosecutors filed for his extradition over the WikiLeaks scandal.

After seven years in hiding, this dramatic shift has unearthed a multitude of dirt on the hack’s life, the latest being his dating profile.

WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange arrested by police and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy

In it he writes: “WARNING: Want a regular, down to earth guy? Keep moving. I am not the droid you’re looking for. Save us both while you still can.

“Passionate, and often pig headed activist intellectual seeks siren for love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy.

“Such a woman should [be] spirited and playful, of high intelligence, though not necessarily formally educated, have spunk, class & inner strength and be able to think strategically about the world and the people she cares about.”

LOOKING FOR LOVE

The unusual relationship request is accompanied by five photographs resembling Assange, the main one being a close-up smiling picture.

It’s captioned: “The author, facing the rising sun after an all puzzle contest.”

Confirming the validity of the profile, OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan said: “This is real, as best we can tell.

“We have manual and automatic systems in place to prevent fraud. We can tell when a profile is created, from where — and we’re not going to say.

“If the profile is a ruse, then whoever did it went to elaborate lengths. And if someone faked this in 2006, that person has done an amazing job predicting the future.”

This is real, as best we can tell

Sam Yagan OkCupid co-founder

The bizarre revelation was made on blog Frugal Brutal Beauty in 2010.

Assange goes under the name ‘Harry Harrison’, the pen name of an American author of science-fiction books whose protagonist, “Slippery Jim,” is a globetrotting con man.

‘Harry’ was extremely active during his first month on the site, according to Yagan, completing 42 personalty tests. Most members only complete one, if any.

Although his specific answers aren’t available, it is possible to see the results, which included:

  • The Politics Test: Strong Democrat
  • The Death Test: Dead at 83
  • The Intellectual Sexiness Test: 85 intellectual sexiness!
  • The Atheist Test: 75 per cent – The Ardent Atheist
  • The EXTREMELY advanced MATH Test: 84 on the MathDorkOMeter

In addition, Harrison answered the site’s “match questions,” which show that he’s 27 per cent more arrogant, 12.3 per cent kinkier and 10.5 per cent “less capitalistic” than OkCupid’s seven million members.

Yagan admits Assange’s profile attracted “several” responses.

A hairy and dishevelled Assange spent 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid sex assault claims in Sweden claims.

He feared being sent to the States – where he was wanted over an alleged hacking conspiracy with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

During that time his health has deteriorated as a result of a lack of sunlight, a Wikileaks source told the Mirror.

In court yesterday, the 47-year-old was blasted a “narcissist who can’t get beyond his own self interest” as he was found guilty of skipping bail in 2012 – relating to his time at the embassy.


WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

  • Julian Assange found guilty of skipping bail in UK and could face a year in jail
  • He was arrested after 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – costing taxpayers more than £10m
  • Assange went into hiding in August 2012 to avoid facing extradition to Sweden over sex assault and rape allegations
  • He is also wanted in US for on suspicion of espionage and publication of sensitive government documents
  • Assange fears he could face death penalty if extradited to US over WikiLeaks scandal
  • Ecuadorian President said Assange’s release dependent on not facing extradition to country with death penalty
  • Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said “UK courts will decide” his future
  • It’s been revealed Assange staged ‘dirty protests’ while in Ecuador’s embassy

He now faces a battle against extradition to the US where he was today charged over the Iraq War Logs.

Swedish lawyers want to reopen the sex allegations which first sent Assange into hiding – a move which has cost the British taxpayer more than £10m.

He will now learn his fate at Southwark Crown Court on May 2.

 Assange flashed a peace sign in handcuffs

Getty Images – Getty

Assange flashed a peace sign in handcuffs
 Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden - where he faced accusations of sexual assault
Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden – where he faced accusations of sexual assault
Diane Abbott defends Julian Assange after his arrest from the Ecuadorian Embassy


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After nearly seven years holed up inside the cramped Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is dreading the prospect of violent attacks on him in an American prison, one of his regular visitors told ABC News’ The Investigation podcast on Thursday.

In an interview for ABC News’ “The Investigation” podcast conducted one day after Assange’s long-anticipated arrest by London police and court appearance on a 2012 bail jumping warrant and U.S. extradition request, one of his most frequent visitors described Assange’s fears of being sent to a US prison and subjected to violence inside.

“He did say he was worried that, if he was in a normal American prison, being beaten up,” war documentary filmmaker and former Taliban hostage Sean Langan, who has spent more than 50 hours with Assange in the past year, told ABC News. Langan’s last visit to Assange at the embassy was on March 22, he said.

Film maker and former hostage Sean Langan sits in the audience during a WikiLeaks discussion at The Front Line Club in London, Dec. 1, 2010.(REX/Shutterstock, FILE) Film maker and former hostage Sean Langan sits in the audience during a WikiLeaks discussion at The Front Line Club in London, Dec. 1, 2010.

“And then I said, ‘Well, the chances are you’re most likely’ — slightly gallows humor, it didn’t make him feel better – ‘you’re most likely going to be put into one of those federal Supermax prisons where you won’t see a soul,” said Langan, an ABC News contributor.

Perhaps most surprising to many who saw his leaks of embarrassing Democratic party emails during the 2016 campaign — which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has alleged were hacked by Russian spies in an effort to hurt rival Hillary Clinton’s chances — Assange was often sharply critical of Trump in casual conversation with a handful of visitors.

Langan says Assange described longtime Trump friend and political adviser Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. as intellectually incapable of a conspiracy, much less one that included WikiLeaks or him, and he rejoiced when Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently closed his investigation without indicting him for conspiring with Russian military intelligence to tilt the U.S. election.

“‘Those bunch of clowns’ — that was the exact quote — ‘those bunch of clowns couldn’t conspire and organize this kind of thing’,” Langan recalled Assange telling him. “He certainly did not hold [President Trump] in high regard. He was quite dismissive.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he leaves the Westminster Magistrates Court in the police van, after he was arrested in London, April 11, 2019.(Henry Nicholls/Reuters) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he leaves the Westminster Magistrates Court in the police van, after he was arrested in London, April 11, 2019.

Langan and Vaughan Smith, an Assange confidant and owner of London’s Frontline Club, began making “social visits” — as the Ecuadorian Embassy called them — with Assange in early November. The pair was among the first people summoned by the controversial publisher of sensitive secrets after Ecuador lifted a ban on his visitors and most of his communications, a loosening of restrictions on Assange that lasted six months in 2018.

Inside, they didn’t find an apartment littered with cat dropping or feces on the wall — as alleged by his Ecuadorian hosts who over time turned against their notorious asylee — but instead the “claustrophobic” quarters of a man in poor health toughing out intense surveillance of the tiny rooms he has occupied since entering the embassy in August, 2012.

That year, fearing he would extradited to the United States, Assange skipped out on his bail during a rape inquiry in Sweden. The rape inquiry was dropped two years ago but reopened today in the wake of Assange’s removal from the embassy in London, Swedish prosecutors said. Assange has denied the rape allegation.

Assange shared his recollections with Langan in five-hour rolling conversations at a table between two speakers meant to deter electronic surveillance by Ecuador or other countries. One speaker blared symphony music and the other David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Langan told ABC News.

Asked about a controversial November, 2018 report in the Guardian newspaper that Assange had met with Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort — since convicted on financial crimes related to lobbying in Virginia and in Washington — he was adamant it never happened. “He said, ‘That’s [bull]. Never met him.’ So he strongly denied that,” Langan said.

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks speaks to the press during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, April 11, 2019.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images) President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks speaks to the press during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, April 11, 2019.

The Guardian report has not been matched by any other major news organization or corroborated since it was published.

Langan said that Assange seemed to acknowledge that he had communicated with Guccifer2.0, an online persona Mueller has said in a U.S. indictment was really an amalgam of Russian spies who stole the Democratic party emails and coordinated with WikiLeaks to leak them, but said that he believes Assange was unaware of Guccifer 2.0’s true identity.

Langan said that Assange complained to him that other news outlets were communicating with Guccifer2.0 too but the U.S. government was unfairly picking on him.

“I took it to be a non-denial denial,” Langan said.

With his arrest and the prospect of a trial in the U.S. for computer intrusion relating to WikiLeaks document dumps of military and intelligence secrets almost a decade ago, Langan said Assange now realizes “that he could face the rest of his life in isolation.”

The idea of further confinement weighs on Assange, he said.

“You can see the toll it is taking on him,” Langan added. “It’s an unpleasant thing to see in any man.”

He is no doubt glad to be out of the embassy, however, Langan added.

“It’s like a gilded cage. But a cage is a cage is a cage,” said Langan.

Smith always brought lunch from the club and Assange would fetch plates to serve the food on, then step back into his tidy galley to wash each plate after they dined.

Langan said Assange expressed frustration with what he described as false news reports that claimed Assange wore smelly socks and did not care for the cat his kids gave to him as a gift.

“That really hurt him,” Langan recounted.

President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, in an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner, said Julian Assange could expose a “plot” involving Ukraine to falsely accuse Trump of colluding with Russia.

The WikiLeaks publisher was arrested Thursday in London and urged resistance to the “Trump administration” as he was dragged out of Ecuador’s embassy to face extradition.

Assange helped elect Trump with 2016 dumps of damaging Democratic emails allegedly hacked by Russia. He was charged with a single count of computer-hacking conspiracy relating to Chelsea Manning’s 2010 leaks of military and diplomatic secrets.

Trump distanced himself from the case, but Giuliani said Assange’s apprehension — after nearly seven years in the embassy — could benefit the president, who was recently exonerated of criminal collusion with Russia by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Maybe it will shed light on the plot to create an investigation of President Trump based on a false charge of conspiracy with the Russians to affect the 2016 elections. Keep your eye on Ukraine,” Giuliani said. “It’s possible with all his sources he might know or have information of how it all started.”

Giuliani specified that he was talking about Assange exposing the origins of the federal investigation of possible Trump collusion with Russia and was not raising the possibility of Assange disproving that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Giuliani said he believed Assange may be able to “show who invented [the] false story that [Trump] colluded with Russians.”

Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, said he was “not sure yet” if Assange helping exonerate Trump would lighten his possible criminal penalties.

In a report submitted March 22, Mueller found no evidence of Trump criminally colluding with Russia, according to Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings. Barr said Tuesday that he expected to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report within a week.

Assange is accused of conspiring to hack a U.S. government computer system. He allegedly communicated with Manning about cracking a password, though charging documents did not make clear if any records were accessed as a result. The charge carries up to five years in prison.

Following Assange’s arrest, experts raised the possibility that Assange would seek to “graymail” the Trump administration into dropping charges, meaning threaten to expose secrets — whether true or not — in an effort to nix the prosecution.

There are some unresolved Russia-related claims that could damage Trump, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s claim he overheard a July 2016 phone call in which adviser Roger Stone told Trump that he spoke with Assange, who intended to release hacked emails. Mueller’s team also focused on author Jerome Corsi, finding it implausible that he “predicted” in July 2016 that Assange had Podesta’s emails and would release them in October.

Giuliani answered with a firm “no” when asked if Assange’s arrest could put Trump in new legal jeopardy in relation to the 2016 email releases.

Although candidate Trump routinely reveled in WikiLeaks’s disclosures about Hillary Clinton, Trump as president has consistently professed ignorance about Assange and efforts to broker a pardon on his behalf. Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., tried in vain to speak with Trump about a pardon for Assange, and on Thursday Trump claimed he knew “nothing” about either Assange or the WikiLeaks organization.

Julian Assange was arrested in Britain on a single charge of conspiracy but that is almost certainly just the opening salvo by the United States as prosecutors draw up more serious charges that could well result in the WikiLeaks founder spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Former CIA officers point to the colossal scope of the classified information dumps perpetrated by the Australian national, 47, and argue that he was responsible for American deaths. Few people are more despised by the American intelligence and criminal justice communities. Using a single, straightforward, and relatively minor charge is a common legal tactic designed to speed up an extradition process.

[ WATCH: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange dragged out of Ecuadorian Embassy in London by police]

Arthur Rizer, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Army veteran, described Assange as an “information terrorist” and “intelligence mobster.” He told Washington Examiner: “There are a million things other this guy could be charged with. And I wouldn’t be surprised if one of things he’s charged with is espionage.”

Rizer, now a director at the R Street Institute, said that charges of manslaughter, obstruction of justice, and mishandling of classified material were possible. “He could also be charged with many different counts of the same thing, because he published so many things,” he added.

Charles Stimson, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs and a Navy reservist told the Washington Examiner, “I’m sure there will be superseding indictments. There’s no doubt in my mind as a prosecutor. They might have a superseding indictment that’s sealed already,” he suggested.

“It’s the practice of the DOJ in a lot of instances to bring forward a single count indictment at the beginning of a long and complicated case to start the proceedings.”

The plan for how to deal with Assange was probably drawn up by the Obama administration and honed under Trump, Stimson, a Heritage Foundation scholar, said. Who would be privy to it? “I suspect [former DOD general counsel and DHS Secretary] Jeh Johnson and the previous team at the Obama administration knows and that senior leaders in the Trump administration know too.”

Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA station chief in Moscow, said Assange was likely in further legal jeopardy, saying, “There’s the Chelsea Manning case and there’s the DNC hacking lawsuit brought against him.” It was also an open question as to “what aspects of the Mueller report fit in to all this.”

He rejected the notion that Assange could claim to be a mere journalist with free-speech protections. “WikiLeaks is more than just a repository for classified information, they’re actually out actively seeking it. And the question is whether Assange was enabling individuals like Chelsea Manning to steal classified information. That would make him a co-conspirator.”

While he doubted “there was a direct link between Assange and Russia” but he said “there may have been third party cut-outs — mutually trusted intermediaries — used by WikiLeaks and Moscow. That might make an espionage trail difficult for prosecutors to establish.

“WikiLeaks would get the information that the GRU [Russian military intelligence] hacked, but they wouldn’t get it from GRU but rather from GRU cut-outs. And that gives Assange a fig leaf of deniability,” Hoffman said. “The cut-out is designed to conceal the real collector … But it’s a distinction without a difference.”

Hoffman said that, although Assange himself did plenty of harm, “the ones who did the most damage were the ones who stole classified information — those who hacked the DNC and Chelsea Manning stealing military files.”

Bob Baer, a former CIA case officer in the Middle East who was the model for the character played by George Clooney in the movie “Syriana,” cast that Assange could be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. He told the Washington Examiner: “I’ve yet to see anything proving that. And you can’t bring an espionage indictment against someone just based on suspicion. I doubt they take him to trial on something like that, unless they have the goods on him,” he said.

Pointing to infamous espionage cases like the ones involving former CIA officers Aldrich Ames and Harold James Nicholson and former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, Baer said, “They caught these guys in the act passing secrets and taking money. And I would assume those standards still apply on espionage.”

Baer said WikiLeaks inflicted major damage to U.S. national security: “Think about the damage that Chelsea Manning did to the State Department… People look at the State Department and think, ‘Who in God’s name is going to tell them anything?’ It effectively blinds the United States.” In the case of some information, the cost was direct: “Giving up the NSA [National Security Agency] stuff gets people killed.”

Stimson said: “WikiLeaks was exponentially harmful to personnel to people in uniform, it put incredible pressure on our relationships with our allies, and it was grossly damaging to national security. And it was intended to be that way.

WikiLeaks has defended itself as an opponent of government corruption and a champion of free speech. It tweeted that Assange was “a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize, and imprison him.”

The single-count conspiracy indictment against Assange that was unsealed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The DOJ stated that “Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network.”

It alleged Assange encouraged Manning to hand classified information to WikiLeaks: “These databases contained approximately 90,000 Afghanistan war-related significant activity reports, 400,000 Iraq war-related significant activity reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables.”

President Trump’s first two years in office saw a fourfold increase in criminal leak referrals to the Justice Department, and experts say a spike in prosecutions is poised to follow.

Few of the 120 suspected criminal leaks referred by federal agencies in 2017 resulted in charges, but experts say it often takes nine to 18 months, meaning arrests are likely imminent after referrals rocketed up from just 37 in 2016 and 18 in 2015, remaining high in 2018 with 88.

“I think the number of prosecutions will certainly increase in light of more investigations,” said Jesselyn Radack, a whistleblower defense attorney whose Obama-era clients included former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and former agency senior executive Thomas Drake.

So far under Trump, only two journalistic sources have been prosecuted using the notoriously harsh Espionage Act, compared to eight over President Barack Obama’s eight years. Others were prosecuted under less strict laws under both administrations.

“It’s a good bet that we will start seeing in the near-term some prosecutions,” said attorney Barry Pollack, whose clients have included several prominent alleged leakers as well as WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who was arrested April 11 for publishing military and diplomatic secrets in 2010.

“Knowing the emphasis of the administration on this area and knowing it takes some period of time to put together these cases, we can expect to start seeing a number of them,” Pollack said.

Obama’s use of the Espionage Act to target leaks was unprecedented, with more journalistic sources prosecuted than under all prior administrations combined. The effort was made easier by digital footprints.

“In the ’90s, the government never would catch people. It was impossible. There was no paper trail,” said national security defense attorney Mark Zaid, who has handled several leak cases.

Newly widespread encrypted communication platforms can only go so far in protecting leak confidentiality, Zaid said, as authorities can circumvent secure platforms by accessing devices or forcing companies to hand over records.

Still, the government doesn’t always bring charges. FBI agents must determine who had access to information, then connect the leak to a suspect. Then prosecutors must decide if a case is worth pursuing, balancing factors such as whether prosecution will possibly expose even more secrets at trial.

“If they do something, it’s either something they are really pissed off about, or someone is taking it really personally,” Zaid said. “A lot of people who are prosecuted are low-level people and tend to be younger. … They choose their battles wisely.”

Under Trump, National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner and former FBI agent Terry Albury were charged under the Espionage Act. Faced with potential decades in prison, both pleaded guilty. Winner, who leaked about Russian attempts to hack election systems, received more than five years in prison. Albury got four years for leaking documents, including a guide to informant recruitment and rules for seizing journalist records.

Separately, former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contact with journalists, and Treasury Department employee Natalie Edwards was charged with leaking “suspicious activity reports” on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others.

The latest records on leak referrals were acquired by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood believes federal workers view Trump less favorably than they viewed Obama, and therefore may be more likely to leak.

“The referrals from 2017 and the resulting investigations should be ripe this year, so it’s possible that surge would bear its unhappy fruit around now, but so far we haven’t seen it happening,” he said.

Potential leak cases include the release of Trump’s calls with leaders of Mexico and Australia and a leak revealing surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, which House Republicans have requested be investigated.

One person prosecuted under Obama, former CIA employee John Kiriakou, scoffs at some anti-Trump leaks, saying they are designed to embarrass, rather than expose waste, fraud, and abuse.

“A lot of people are calling these White House people whistleblowers, and I think they are not,” said Kiriakou, who served nearly two years in prison for giving a journalist contact information for two colleagues linked to post-9/11 tactics critics call torture.

“A leaker leaks because it’s exciting or they want to feel important or they want to feel they are the center of attention. And that’s not what a whistleblower does,” Kiriakou said. “If the policy is to target leakers, I think that’s the correct policy.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Monday he will not be helping President Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen get a delay on his upcoming prison sentence.

“I don’t get involved in sentencing matters as a practice. I never have in Congress and that’s been my policy,” Schiff told CNN Monday.

Cohen, who is scheduled to start his three-year prison sentence in early May, sent a letter last week through his attorneys to multiple Democratic members of Congress which said he had come across new documents that could be of interest to their inquiries into Trump. The letter said Cohen found a hard drive containing millions of files.

“To date, Mr. Cohen has located several documents that we believe have significant value to the various congressional oversight and investigation committees,” the letter reads.

Although he said he would not interfere in the sentencing, Schiff noted he was still interested in seeing any potential material from Cohen that could assist with the intelligence panel’s investigation.

“We continue to encourage Mr. Cohen to provide us any materials that he has that are relevant to our investigation,” Schiff said. “We will continue to do so and hope that he has additional information to offer.”

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress, tax evasion, fraud, and campaign finance violations. In February he testified before Congress, saying Trump was a racist, a conman, and a cheat and that he lied on behalf of the president.

[ Opinion: Byron York: Michael Cohen begs House Democrats to keep him out of jail]

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Former “Empire” actor (well, former actor, really) Jussie Smollett, could do as much as six decades in the big house.

Six. Decades.

Smollett is looking at 64 years in total.

Here’s why…

From ABC7 Chicago:

A Cook County grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, according to court records.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed the indictment, which they said was returned by a grand jury on Thursday.

CBS News reports that each count could come with four years…

The grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday, CBS Chicago reported. Each one of the charges carries a maximum count of four years in prison, meaning he could face 64 years in total.

The 36-year-old actor, who is black and openly gay, plays Jamal Lyon on Fox’s hit TV show, “Empire,” a drama that chronicles a family-run record label. He told police he was attacked by two masked men when he was returning home from a Subway sandwich store Jan. 29 around 2 a.m.

Will Smollett actually serve hard time?

And for how long, exactly?

Via Variety:

The new counts likely will not have much effect on Smollett’s ultimate sentence, should he be convicted, said Andrew Weisberg, a former Cook County prosecutor now in private practice. The charges would run concurrently, so the sentencing range would still be one to three years in prison. However, most defendants in Smollett’s situation are sentenced to probation.

Read More: https://ilovemyfreedom.org/details-smollett-could-potentially-serve-over-60-years-in-prison-after-16-count-indictment/?utm_source=star&utm_medium=twitter

Source: The Washington Pundit


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