But that's not important, from a legal perspective. Cracking those passwords with the intent to use them for unauthorized access seems like conspiracy, and that's what WikiLeaks was offering Manning in the Jabber records (to crack the passwords for her).
I don't know the details about how they know Assange was involved but it was compelling enough for a grand jury indictment. It's up to the UK now to decide whether a request for extradition is valid, so the US needs to make a case for this indictment. We'll see where that goes and what evidence is presented.
And I'm pretty sure the charge of conspiring to hack defense systems is also a crime in the UK so the grounds for extradition aren't so shaky.
It's also really important to note that they can't just extradite for this hacking charge and then do a trial for the leaks or whatever the 1st Amendment concerns are. The extradition will have to be specific to whatever charge the US is bringing (which so far is only the conspiracy to hack). Also, if found guilty he can't be charged again for leaking or anything without ANOTHER extradition claim and that would be very unlikely. So whatever they decide to extradite him for in the next 60 days will be the kind of charges he faces.
The jurisdictional overreach of my government (US) in this case concerns me. Some questions we should consider:
Is it a crime in the UK for an Australian citizen residing in Sweden to offer help cracking a password over online chat to a US citizen residing in Afghanistan and then report that they were unsuccessful? In the US?
Should we start extraditing Canadians for weed?
I get the concerns, but the charge is of conspiracy and that's exactly how it works... If you get caught planning to hack the DoD but you don't accomplish it, those plans can be used against you in a conspiracy charge.
> Should we start extraditing Canadians for weed?
That's up to Canada, but on the face of it that's not even a crime (Americans can go to countries with legal marijuana, the crime is possession in the states). Now, if someone in Canada was conspiring to traffic a massive amount of weed into the US that could be different.
Is it different if China extradites an Italian citizen from Thailand for conspiring against them by, while in South Africa, assisting a Chinese citizen, who's located in Australia, participate in circumventing Chinese censorship technology by helping root a device?
The US might extradite you if Australia could make that case. Especially if it could be proven that you would receive a fair trial and no cruel or unusual punishment. That's what's happening here. The UK can still refuse to give him up if they don't make a good enough case.
For context on the issue of "fair trial": look at cases of worse charges than conspiracy to hack, like Maria Butina, for instance. She still received a proper trial and chance to defend herself against the evidence. Our legal system is broken in many ways, but mostly when it comes to racial or income inequality and local law enforcement. On the larger stage the rules for these things are pretty clear.
If you want to see some contrast take a look around at other large nation's justice system.
The idea of a government's authority being derived from a consent to be governed was expressed very early in the US of A's declaration of independence to Britian: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" and I think this is a reasonable stance.
And the conspiracy wasn't just cracking the password, it was explicit intent to crack it for unauthorized access to classified military intelligence.
Yeah, under the direction of Russian officials, as an unregistered agent on their behalf.
But that is not how the law get enforced, and people don't get extradited for crimes like that. They don't even get extradited when you have evidence of committed crimes like speeding, which maximum punishment is longer than cracking a password.
If you're Australian, don't expect the government to give a shit unless you're rich. I expect the Australian government to offer as little as they can to Assange.