USA v Julian Assange: Extradition Day 2
Defense debunks US claims of reckless dump and Assange-Manning conspiracy
- See USA v. Assange: Extradition Day 1 here
- See the Courage Foundation’s live-tweeted thread of the defense’s arguments in court today
Mark Summers QC, arguing for Julian Assange’s legal defense, spent the second day of Assange’s extradition hearing at Woolwich Crown Court thoroughly debunking two key allegations the US government makes against Assange in its extradition request. The US has alleged that Assange attempted to help Manning conceal her identity, and it has alleged that Assange and WikiLeaks released the full unredacted State Department cables in 2011 with a reckless disregard for the harm it could cause.
Guardian journalists to blame for unredacted cables’ release
A day after the CPS’ lawyer James Lewis QC, acting for the US, made dramatic claims of harm caused by WikiLeaks’ September 2011 publication of the unredacted State Department cables, the defense explained what really happened: The Guardian journalists Luke Harding and David Leigh published a password that irreversibly released the unredacted cables into the world.
Before detailing this disclosure, Mark Summers reminded the court that WikiLeaks entered into a partnership with several mainstream media outlets to responsibly handle and redact the material. WikiLeaks and these media partners engaged in a harm minimization process in which WikiLeaks, on some occasions, redacted even more than other outlets. Beginning to release the documents in November 2010, WikiLeaks and its partners continued to redact names and prepare cables for publication over the next several months.
Then in February 2011, Harding and Leigh published “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy,” in which they disclosed a password to an encrypted file containing the full unredacted cables. Harding and Leigh did not off-handedly or subtly reveal the password; the password was the title of a chapter in the book.
If there was any doubt about whether the chapter title was the password, the index at p 322 tells you that that is in fact the password. In court, the defense had to point this out to the prosecution’s James Lewis, who laughed incredulously.
The password disclosure went unnoticed for several months, until August 2011. On 25 August 2011,