Tag Archives: US

The Wikileaks Cablegate – a Legal Backgrounder

Apart from the understandable hype surrounding the Wikileaks Cablegate, there are many legal questions that need clarification. I have tried here to summarize available sources and comments on the different aspects of the Cablegate.

1. Wikileaks Cablegate as a violation of espionage laws

Australian and US law enforcement agencies are reportedly studying the possibility of criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, including charges under the Espionage Act, for publishing classified US diplomatic cables. The US Espionage Act was adopted in 1917. There are some opinions that the Espionage Act is generally viewed as outdated in light of more modern case law on the First Amendment, also shown in the federal government loss in the Pentagon Papers case. Others say that if the US really believes that the Espionage Act is a constitutional law that ought to be enforced then they’d better be prepared to go after the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El Pais, all of which published the classified cables after being granted early access and were part of a clear conspiracy with Wikileaks to break the Espionage Act.

U.S. Congressman Peter King has also vowed for the US to declare Wikileaks a terrorist organization, which would presumably allow the US to use anti-terrorist legislation, possibly Title VIII of the Patriot Act. There, however, provisions allow prosecuting the person who gained unauthorized access and caused subsequent damage to a protected computer, which could only be applied to the person who stole the cables in the first place.

In conclusion, it is possible for the US government to use the Espionage Act, but it will face many hurdles due to its potential unconstitutionality.

2. Julian Assange’s Rape Conviction

INTERPOL has made public the Red Notice, or international wanted persons alert, for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the request of Swedish authorities who want to question him in connection with a number of sexual offences. However, INTERPOL cannot demand that any member country arrests the subject of a Red Notice.

Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens has previously said that the allegations were made after Assange had consensual sex with two women who turned on him after becoming aware of each other’s relationships. Sweden’s Supreme Court was reviewing Assange’s appeal of the order to detain him. Court official Kerstin Norman, who is handling the case, said a decision is expected late Wednesday or Thursday.

There is reportedly also a European arrest warrant for Assange by the Swedish authorities, but it was incorrectly filled out.

3. Amazon Hosting for Wikileaks

Amazon Web Services has stopped hosting Wikileaks. This was done for unspecified reasons, but as Larry Dignan points out, Amazon states clearly in its terms of service that it can host you as well as terminate an agreement at will.

4. Death Threats to Julian Assange

Certain individuals in the US have publicly called for the murder of Julian Assange. In US case law advocacy of violence can only be prohibited when there is clear incitement of an imminent violent act. I am not an expert in US law, but it appears to me that these threats constitute a violation. However, it is not clear whether someone in the US or Australia would want to prosecute those threats. In Bulgaria or in the European Union in general these threats would be prosecuted.

5. Conclusion

Three developments should be observed:

  • if and how the US decides to prosecute Wikileaks and/or the newspapers that leaked the cables, and
  • how the criminal case against Julian Assange is processed by the Swedish prosecution and courts, and
  • whether some legal action is taken against individuals that incite the killing of Mr. Assange.

 

 

Is Europe to Blame for Turkey’s Islamization?

US defense minister Robert Gates said that:

“if there is anything to the notion that Turkey is, if you will, moving eastward, it is, in my view, in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought”.

I disagree. After all, the European Union is not the only link to the West for Turkey. Why not use NATO to break the Gaza blockade, as proposed by Egemen Bagiş, Turkey’s minister of European affairs and chief EU negotiator?

European Commission, German Financial Regulator Follow Closely the Goldman Sachs Investigation

EUobserver reports that both the European Commission and the German financial regulator BaFin are following closely the investigation of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs (see the detailed legal analysis by Bill Singer).

UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also demanded investigation of the possible fraudulent activities of Goldman Sachs.

It is worth reminding that Goldman Sachs was also involved in providing help to the Greek government in order to hide an additional 1 billion US dollars in debt by currency swaps.

EP rejects SWIFT Deal

The European Parliament has refused to give its consent to the EU’s interim agreement on banking data transfers to the USA via the SWIFT network, amid concerns for privacy, proportionality and reciprocity.

Now the Commission is considering negotiating a long-term agreement with the US. The US calls the decision of the EP “a deeply regrettable and potentially tragic mistake”.

Iran Cancels MEP Visit

The European Parliament delegation for relations with Iran has voiced surprise at the last-minute cancellation by Iranian authorities of the EP delegation’s visit to Tehran, which was to take place later this week.

The visit was criticized in advance by a group of 15 U.S. House members – both Democrats and Republicans.

A Speech That Should Be Listened To

This is a video of the speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress. Worth listening to.