From the Guardian report:
Citing unnamed officials, CNN reported that prosecutors have struggled with whether the Australian is protected from prosecution by the first amendment, but now believe they have found a path forward. A spokesman for the justice department declined to comment. |
Barry Pollack, Assange’s lawyer, denied any knowledge of imminent prosecution. “We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr Assange,” he told CNN. “They’ve been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr Assange’s status is in any pending investigations. There’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”
Jeff Sessions says he'd like to prosecute Assange, but let's see if they can actually draw up an indictment against Assange or Wikileaks that would stand up in an American court. If they can, the matter would then have to be argued in the British courts and, probably, the Swedish ones too. The European Court of Human Rights would almost certainly get involved at some point, as well.
To my mind, the rape and sexual assault charges are a completely separate issue. Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks must at the time have considered the possibility that the US government might be a tad irritated by their activities and considered the possible danger of criminal prosecution. As I understand it, the US's only realistic chance of a successful prosecution depends on proving (making a jury sure, that is) that Assange (or whoever the defendant is) colluded with Chelsea Manning in committing particular criminal offences, which is probably quite a long shot.
Be that as it may, my point is that Assange must at the time have considered the possibility that, as a result of the Wikileaks business, the US might want to prosecute him, just as the editors of The New York Times, of The Guardian, and of all the other papers that were involved, must have considered their positions. Since, unlike Edward Snowden, he didn't immediately take refuge in a country that doesn't have extradition arrangements with the USA he must have taken the view, not unreasonably, that in the event the US do decide to prosecute, he's probably safe from extradition anyway under the normal dual criminality rules (basically, the activities alleged in the extradition request would amount to a criminal offence in the country from which the extradition is sought). But let's see what happens and if anything comes of Mr Sessions' words.