General Question

xxii's avatar

Did Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, break the law?

Asked by xxii (3321points) December 1st, 2010

Just curious to see what you guys think. I know there is some support on Fluther for Assange’s actions and how they serve the public interest. But there is a difference between doing something good and doing something legal.

Julian Assange may have served the public interest, but has he broken the law in the process?

By “law,” I’m referring to U.S. law – could the U.S. government make a convincing case for taking him to court? And by “breaking,” I’m referring to WikiLeaks specifically, as opposed to the rape allegations.

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18 Answers

MissA's avatar

Not being an American citizen, I’m not sure that he did break U.S. laws. I’d like for the American people to see other WikiLeaks data about what “we’ve” done in war territory.

mammal's avatar

i’ll think you ’ll find most people on here would rather know what the American government is up too, only rabid fascists like Palin and that despicable horror, Huckabee, think we should execute people for releasing documents relating to an illegal war. It may have escaped every-one’s attention that America is out of control, China isn’t, Russia isn’t, Iran isn’t, but i think there should be similar scrutiny on all countries. America’s communication indiscretions are not only a sign of their complacency, but of their arrogance and now They want to shut democracy down. America should wish to be treated how she would treat others, oldest maxim in the book, America employs espionage, sabotage, threats, blackmail, subversion, coercion, economic bullying and outright invasion in the pursuit of self interest and recommends it’s tactics to the world as Democratic. America pays no attention to public opinion or the United Nations code of conduct which she signed up to, but instead uses, abuses and violates it at will. Democracy has become some fickle ideal that America so frequently bastardizes for her own ends, it makes your head spin.

Deep down in our bones we all knew where the Internet was heading, i’m surprised it has taken this long, nearly a decade of illegal war and global belligerence.

Does America really want to martyr Julian Assange, really? she is far too smart for that, America will start to get a grip on this and work it into her Agenda at some point, some how. Make a hollywood movie or something.

mammal's avatar

@mammal oh yeah and she makes up lies, remember Iraq’s WMD capabilities. Not to mention Bribes, corrupts, props up governments, banks and individuals with trillion’s of dollar$ of American Tax payers money, and the Tax obsessed right wing, don’t give a shit, they’d rather hammer health reform, education and welfare. They’d rather not know because the government is deep down good and can be trusted.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

He did not break any American laws. He’s not even an American citizen. They’ll have a hard time getting anything on Assange.

What’s funny is that the US Gov is promoting the whole thing by speaking about it. Their cries of injustice only serve to advertise it all. The only crime committed here is when American Politicians accuse someone of criminal activity for possibly exposing their own criminal activity.

Hypocrites… I think Jesus called them a “Brood of Snakes”… those who fear truth.

history's avatar

He didn’t steal the documents. He just had the balls to post what was given to him.

Here is some secret info about me. I masturbate before bed since it helps me sleep and be honest with my hand.

Should Fluther be help accountable for that info? Don’t blame the messenger. This would have never have happened if acts reported never occurred.

jlelandg's avatar

Why did @mammal reply to himself? Is he running a sock to agree with himself? Again, his diatribe sounds like he’s typing straight from Pyongyang, but I actually think his disagreement with Palin and Huckabee has legs.

I guess they are saying these things because people who aren’t sure what to think are probably offended because it sounds bad when you have a leak of classified documents.

As far as Wikileaks, the same people who want to tie up Assange are the same ones that hooped and hollered when wikileaks released the “Climategate” information about asshole know it all climate scientists baking information-which goes completely against science and is a sham!

I disagree with releasing information that would compromise US soldiers, but much of the other stuff is very interesting and I hope it will allow for a little more accountability in government.

PS @mammal for as much as I CAN’T STAND you’re commie crap. I must award you a GA for calling Huckabee a “despicable horror” I hate that guy.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know what the law is, so I can’t answer that part of the question.

I know you didn’t ask about the rape charges, but I would not be very surprised if it turned out that the US government has trumped that up to destroy his credibility and maybe even get him off the scene.

Frankly, I’m not sure law is very relevant here.

YoBob's avatar

Of course he broke US law. Not only is the sharing of state secrets involving national security a violation of US law, it puts the lives of real human beings in jeopardy and it undermines the position of this country in the highly volatile an competitive world of international politics.

His citizenship is irrelevant. There are plenty of non-citizens who are held accountable for breaking US law and the punishments range from traffic fines to rotting in Guantanamo Bay. IMHO, this “gentleman” has, with both malice and intent acted to harm the security of the United States of America, should be viewed as the terrorist, and should be treated accordingly.

YoBob's avatar

P.S. For what it’s worth, I have friends on the ground in volatile areas who’s lives have been put in greater danger than they already were because of the actions of this jackass.

mattbrowne's avatar

Private First Class Bradley E. Manning (born 1987) is a United States Army soldier who has been arrested and charged with the unauthorized use and disclosure of U.S. classified information.

Doing business with an alleged criminal can be interpreted as another criminal act. So, the answer would be yes.

Assange is also an alleged rapist. Running from the law is a crime too. He needs to face the charges and prove his innocence.

My theory goes like this: some secret service will take care of this, for example the Russian FSB. A lot of country leaders are very pissed.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I bet they are pissed @mattbrowne. Nobody likes having their skid marks exposed for the whole world to see. But dirty laundry needs to be cleaned, not hidden.

and we certainly don’t need to kill the cleaner for the sake of keeping dirty laundry hidden

YoBob's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It is important to keep in mind that everybody has dirty laundry and it is rather rude to air your soiled sheets in public.

To believe that America is the only nation with “dirty little secrets” in the ongoing game of global international intrigue is beyond naive. Of course we have items that are in our best interest to keep under our hat, just as every other player on the international scene does. To act as though America is somehow less noble than any other nation when it comes to the very real nuts and bolts of protecting our interests is, frankly, absurd.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well of course other countries have dirty secrets too. That’s one reason they’ll be pissed off. They’re exposed as much as we are. And though my rude naive absurdity can often mislead me, it never once took me down the road to believing that back door politics was about “protecting our interests” nearly as much as it protects the interests of big gov, big biz, and big war making.

xxii's avatar

Thanks for the great answers, everyone… keep them coming!

Again, we’re focusing a lot on the morals behind what Assange did. We’re not looking at law. The two are often closely linked, and morals are arguably more important than law. But what I’m curious to know is: did Assange break any U.S. laws, according to the books?

Let’s not forget that receiving, transmitting and communicating classified information can all be considered crimes, and Assange did all of the above.

(I’m on no one’s side here – this is a purely academic question.)

@mattbrowne – When you say it’s a crime to run from the law, do you mean that fugitives are already criminals, simply by virtue of the fact that they are fugitives? In other words, Assange has already broken law by running from the law?

mrmijunte's avatar

As long as he didn’t buy the information or if he approached directly or indirectly to Pvt. Manning for the info it is not breaking the law, as far as I know.
What is the best way to smear someone’s character? Alleging he is a rapist. What wild coincidence that when he released information before these wires all of a sudden rape charges come up. I’m not buying it for a second. Now that he is coming for the banks wait for the stuff people are going to fabricate against him and close associates, because if you mess with money, if you go after the wealthy and powerful there will be hell to pay.
Having said all this, I can see the point being made that if the rape charges are not true then why not go to court and clear that up, take them to trial? It makes sense if we lived in a world that corruption did not exist, but If I was him I would be running as well. I would be too paranoid, I would expect the worse to come out of those trials, I would even fear for my life.

mattbrowne's avatar

I fear for the life of this guy. Remember how the Russians dealt with the Somali pirates.

YoBob's avatar

@mattbrowne IMHO, that fear is quite justified. As others have pointed out this information not only exposes items that the US would rather be kept secret, it also exposes others who might not be so restrained in dealing with such problems.


“And though my rude naive absurdity can often mislead me, it never once took me down the road to believing that back door politics was about “protecting our interests” nearly as much as it protects the interests of big gov, big biz, and big war making.”

Regarding the protection of big business and big war making, do you really believe that the motives of other international players are more noble than those of the United States? Do you really think that a Middle Eastern Sheik plays this game because he is concerned about the rights of his subjects or because he is concerned with the value of the oil in his kingdom? Do you really believe that the intelligence agents of some European countries put their lives at risk because they want to protect the small business owner in their home town, or do they do it because their country makes a heck of a profit selling missile components and guidance systems to their customers…erm… allies?

As for big government, at least we get a say in ours, and many of us, myself included, believe in a general reduction in it’s size and scope on the federal level, but that’s a topic for a different thread.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

What did I say that leads you to suggesting that I believe any of those scenarios @YoBob? I’m not sure we’re communicating here. I already stated that other countries are as pissed if not more than our own government. Their secrets are exposed as well. And they’re all pissed because they all have many things to hide.

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