An affidavit unsealed by US prosecutors on Monday has underscored the unlawful character of the Trump administration’s request that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be extradited to the US in the wake of his illegal expulsion from Ecuador’s London embassy and arrest by the British police last Thursday.
The affidavit was made by Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) special agent Megan Brown on December 21, 2017, in support of two charges which had been secretly filed against Assange, under her name.
The charges accuse Assange of participating in a “conspiracy” with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to gain unauthorised access to a US government computer.
Brown’s document demonstrates that the Trump administration does not have a legal case against Assange that would withstand judicial scrutiny in the US, or in any other country that claims to be a democracy. It brands the US extradition request as a pseudo-legal fig leaf for an extraordinary rendition operation, aimed at silencing a publisher, for his lawful journalistic activities.
The sole “evidence” against Assange is chat logs, in the possession of the US government, which Brown and US prosecutors claim are of online conversations between the WikiLeaks founder and Chelsea Manning.
Brown’s affidavit, and the charge sheet, do not provide any direct evidence that the person Manning was speaking to was Assange.
The “case” against Assange is that Manning, and whoever she was allegedly conversing with in March 2010, discussed cracking a “hash,” or password, that would have allowed her to access US Defence Department material on an account that was not her own.
Manning, as a US army intelligence analyst, had access to the material that she leaked to WikiLeaks. She had already leaked thousands of documents, including the US army’s Afghan and Iraq war logs. The only purpose of accessing the password would have been to help protect her identity.
Brown’s affidavit indicates that the password was never cracked. It quotes Manning, allegedly asking, “any more hints about the IM hash?” The person Manning was conversing with replied: “No luck so far.” Brown then stated:
“There is no other evidence as to what Assange did, if anything, with respect to the password.”
Brown also draws attention to portions of the chat logs,