US preparing criminal case against Assange

In an apparent accidental revelation it appears that the US are preparing to indict Julian Assange on criminal charges.

Assenge has been confined to the Ecudor’s Embassy in London since 2012 where he received political asylum to protect him from facing charges against him in Sweden.

Assange headed Wikileaks, released hacked Hillary Clinton emails during the 2016 presidential election campaign, which was praised by Donald Trump.

Reuters:  U.S. prepares criminal case against Wikileaks’ Assange

U.S. prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, escalating a long battle targeting his anti-secrecy group.

According to a Thursday filing in an unrelated criminal case in a Virginia federal court, prosecutors have obtained a sealed indictment against Assange.

The charges were not immediately clear. Thursday’s filing had been sealed, but was made public this week for reasons that were also unclear, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, said the filing was made an error. Wikileaks said it a Twitter post that it was an “apparent cut-and-paste error.”

The disclosure came as U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and possible collusion by U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House campaign.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia obtained material through hacking, and Mueller’s office has brought various criminal charges against Russians and Trump associates.

For its part, Wikileaks has faced scrutiny for publishing emails hacked before the election from the Democratic Party and the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton, who Trump defeated.

U.S. officials have acknowledged that federal prosecutors in Virginia have been conducting a lengthy criminal probe into Assange and Wikileaks.

Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer advising Assange, said in a statement it was “no surprise” that the United States was seeking to charge Assange, and Australian officials should allow Assange to return there.

I presume the US could seek extradition from Australia.

In a statement on Friday, Wikileaks said Assange was willing to work with British officials as long he was not extradited to the United States.

I don’t know if that sort of a deal protecting him from extradition laws and protocols would be possible.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service,” making that comment in April 2017 when he ran the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Trump praised Wikileaks during his 2016 campaign.

Trump praises anyone who helps his cause.

12 Russian Intel officials indicted for allegedly hacking Clinton campaign

The US Justice department has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for alleged hacking of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.

Fox News:  12 Russian Intel officials indicted for allegedly hacking Clinton campaign, DNC emails

The Justice Department announced charges Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein held a news conference earlier in the day to discuss the charges, which stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Aspen Daily News: White House sees vindication in indictment

The White House is stressing that the new indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers contains no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the Trump campaign or that the hacking the Russians are accused of conducting affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters adds in her statement that “this is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

It is nothing like vindication, it just means that Trump or his campaign are not implicated in this indictment. In fact it trashes a Trump conspiracy theory – see below.

Rosenstein said the investigation is continuing.

There could be more to come. And that may or may not drag the Trump campaign into the legal actions.

The Kremlin is reaffirming its denial of meddling in the U.S. election.

President Vladimir Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov reaffirmed that “the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in U.S. elections.”

Ushakov spoke Friday, just hours before the U.S. Justice Department announced charges against 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking into Democratic accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

He said the Kremlin believes there are “no objective reasons” for the current tensions, and that Moscow and Washington must join efforts to tackle global challenges such as international terrorism.

Putin and President Donald Trump are meeting Monday in Helsinki.

This latest legal move could add tension to that meeting (on top of Trump blasting Germany for dealing with Russia.

NY Times: Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller officially rebuke a major Trump conspiracy theory

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein on Friday announced the indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officials on charges stemming from the hacking of Democrats during the 2016 election.

And with that, yet another President Trump conspiracy theory is thoroughly rebuked by the Russia investigation.

Trump has regularly cast doubt upon the idea that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by the Russians — and that it was hacked at all. At one point he even reportedly dispatched a conspiracy theorist to meet with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Pompeo is now secretary of state.)

“This is all information that has been out there for many years. Much of it is false and/or entirely inaccurate,” Trump said in a statement after the DNC hack was revealed in the summer of 2016. “We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader. Too bad the DNC doesn’t hack Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails.”

So Trump’s claims of ‘no collusion’ have to be viewed with scepticism, given his growing record of making false claims.

PBS: Read Mueller’s full indictment against 12 Russian officers for election interference

 

 

Another indictment in Mueller inquiry

The Mueller inquiry into possible Russian interference in the 2016 US election continues to proceed slowly, with another indictment added to the list.

Bloomberg: Mueller Indicts Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s Ukraine Fixer

Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a U.S. lobbying effort on Ukraine’s behalf, was indicted on federal charges Friday by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The indictment comes as part of an existing money-laundering case against Manafort, and charges him and Kilimnik with obstructing justice. On June 5, Mueller accused Manafort of attempting to tamper with witnesses in his case, saying Manafort and another person tried to contact witnesses to secure false testimony about work done for Ukraine.

The new charges identify that person as Kilimnik, charging him with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kilimnik is a Ukraine-born Russian speaker who has been tied in previous court filings to Russian intelligence, including one citing an FBI assessment that his ties to Russian intelligence continued into the 2016 election. Kilimnik’s whereabouts are unknown.

Kilimnik worked for Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, when they served as political consultants in Ukraine. Prosecutors have previously said Manafort and Gates secretly coordinated an extensive lobbying campaign in the U.S. to benefit former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine before he fled to Moscow. Gates is cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Manafort.

It’s likely to be some time yet before it will be known what come worms out of the woodwork.

While Mueller and his investigation team are drip feeding progress via legal processes Donald Trump and his lawyers keep trying to play public opinion – it’s hard to know why they are doing this as it shouldn’t effect law and facts, and it has some risks.

And it doesn’t seem to be moving public opinion in their favour (but it could be stemming leakage of support).