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The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Journalism (newyorker.com)
323 points by headalgorithm 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 195 comments





Is it legal for a journalist to assist another person in invading someone's home, for the purpose of obtaining information that could be published?

It is not. It's very illegal, for good reason.

It's also illegal to do the same thing with a computer system.

People need to start thinking about information systems as property, in the same way that your house is your property, and your car is your property. In this case, the information system is government property, which for some reason many people believe gives us special license to take whatever we want from it. But the same principle applies to the property of private individuals, including you.

So do you really want to live in a world where the governing maxim is that information wants to be free, and that justifies any and all means of getting to it, including breaking into secure information systems?

That sword cuts both ways.


What specific "principle" are you referring to where you conflate private property with public property? That they are both just types of "property" and therefore the invasion of either is an identical ethical misdemeanour? This seems a rather crummy "principle" to me. There is a world of difference between the two types of property, and it's fundamental to the very definition of a nation - especially the US. Government property is publicly/collectively owned by the citizens of the nation, while private property, while coming with certain collectively agreed responsibilities (tax, licenses, codes etc), is controlled entirely privately by individuals. Invasion of private property as you say is unambiguously morally wrong, but I don't think the same can be said about collectively owned public property. I'm not saying everyone should have a "license" to ransack public property, but if there is an invasion then the morality of the act has to be gauged on case by case basis - if the public property of a non-corrupt state is breached for private gain then of course that's wrong. But what if property of an evil/corrupt regime is breached for the public good - surely the same can't said?

>US. Government property is publicly/collectively owned by the citizens of the nation, while private property, while coming with certain collectively agreed responsibilities (tax, licenses, codes etc), is controlled entirely privately by individuals. Invasion of private property as you say is unambiguously morally wrong, but I don't think the same can be said about collectively owned public property

Even if this ridiculous argument is true, Assange was never a US citizen or taxpayer.


The government derives its power from the consent of the governed.

The governed cannot consent if they are uninformed.

Assange is not relevant here; what matters is that the US government was keeping secrets of war crimes from the very people to whom the government is accountable.

There is a strong moral argument to be made that the government has no rights to secrets kept from its citizenry.


> There is a strong moral argument to be made that the government has no rights to secrets kept from its citizenry.

Such arguments don't hold water when the process of classification is determined by a fairly elected representative of that citizenry.

Americans could elect somebody who promised to ditch classification altogether, but they wouldn't, because reality is not so clear.


Mob rule doesn't determine morality or even the best way of doing things. Moreover, this is assuming that we are given access to vote for actual candidates with varying positions instead of weeding out ones that don't toe the line.

Democracy being the least worst option doesn't absolve it from criticism.


Fair elections require informed voters, though. If government commits human rights violations on their behalf without telling them, I don't think that's particularly informed.

Yes, they could still vote to abolish state secrets altogether. But I think knowledge about how secrecy is abused is also very much relevant to an informed vote on such a matter.


How would you elect someone to get that done when every issue is tied to a hundred other issues in the same candidate and basically none of them will have any meaningful progress made during their term?

Specific opinions cannot be expressed by electing a "representative".


> How would you elect someone to get that done when every issue is tied to a hundred other issues in the same candidate and basically none of them will have any meaningful progress made during their term?

Elect an idiot like Trump who leaks secrets to foreign governments at the drop of a hat?


You cannot give consent if you are not informed about that to which you are consenting.

Has any government that adopted that policy survived the inevitable manipulation and exploitation by foreign powers?

Do you honestly think that Americas military secrets prevent its manipulation and exploitation by foreign powers?

If anything, the fact of Americas military-industrial-pharmacuetical complex covering up crimes against humanity (torture program) and real war crimes (every twenty minutes) makes American leaders even more susceptible to corruption and influence by non-democratically elected actors, state or otherwise.

You'd rather the country be run by shady Blackwater types protected by ultimate state secrecy than have to deal with state diplomacy as its always been?

Wikileaks exposed pretty clear cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity where the laws and policies and "ethics" of the situation are very well documented, and are very well understood among the sovereign states which ratified them. These are clear crimes we are talking about.

The American military-industrial-pharmaceutical complex is inconvenienced by these crimes being exposed - not the American people, in whose names these acts are committed, and who bear ultimate responsibility for the actions of their state.

Knowing what is being done in your name by your government representatives is a good thing - you cannot be a responsible citizen otherwise.


Firstly, I never said having secrets prevents all manipulation and exploitation. But if someone is going to war with your country, the last thing you want is for all your infrastructure, movements, and communications to become public knowledge.

Furthermore, the argument I was responding to failed to allow any nuance or qualification to the reasons the government keeps secrets. Certainly there is a big difference between broad policy decisions or matters of chain of responsibility than there is between tactical information and contextual data collection. I understand government secrecy for the latter, but not the former. I certainly am not going to conflate the two, even as I concede that one is necessary and the distinction hard to enforce.


You know, this was really quite the disproportionate reply that in no way answered the poster's question, but I have to say that this line takes the cake.

> You'd rather the country be run by shady Blackwater types protected by ultimate state secrecy than have to deal with state diplomacy as its always been?

Secrecy has always been a part of state diplomacy. What world do you love in that this is not the case?


>Secrecy has always been a part of state diplomacy.

And this is why the world is perpetually at war. Those who have the power to stop the war-mongers (The People) don't have any idea what is really going on - thus diplomacy has been usurped from most democracies around the world, and is thus: broken.


> And this is why the world is perpetually at war.

No, that's because we have an entire industrial complex surrounding making war profitable.

We had state secrets far before then and there were very long periods of peace.


It is only possible to perpetuate America's criminal wars through state secrecy. If the American people knew the truth about these military incursions, they would be utterly outraged. It is secrets that keep the one true power - the American people - from doing something, effective, about the out of control military-industrial complex.

Just the principle that the laws that dictate what is and isn't government property and who is and isn't entitled to access it are decided by legislators that were chosen by the people of the United States in an election, and not by Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or any other single individual

If taken at face value (i.e. putting aside other theories) Assange, Manning, WikiLeaks et al aren't attempting to decide or write new laws, but rather commit acts in the public good, as they see it. Such acts are capable of transcending mere legality - by that I don't mean that they shouldn't be punished based on the laws of the political moment, rather the state's response to such acts may lay bare either the intrinsic good or evil of the state, as judged by the citizenry of the time. In this way a nation's course can be adjusted, and legislators with different values may come to power. I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Because invasion of public property is currently illegal, it should ethically never be attempted, even when one may feel there is an overwhelming case to, let's say, air dirty laundry in the public interest?

Hold on - you say public good, but who gets to decide what that is? Assange and Manning took it upon themselves to decide that leaking thousands of diplomatic cables - which are kept secret by the laws of the United States because they are sensitive documents that govern our diplomatic relationships with and strategy towards other countries around the world, both friendly and adversarial - was in the public good. But those laws are there for a reason. We live in a world of continuously vying sovereign powers who spy on each other and sometimes even attack each other militarily. Not all of these countries are good countries to live in, not all of them respect human rights, not all of them are democracies, and many in fact are run by corrupt, untrustworthy people. There are good reasons for these laws to exist, but Manning and Assange decided - by themselves - that there aren't.

So - what if your ethics are wrong? What if you haven't done the work to understand why the laws are the way they are? Are you still being conscientious?

Laws are public and the result of a massive concensus-building process that we've built known as representative democracy, by which, if we choose to actually participate, we all have a say in which laws exist and which don't. 'Ethics' on the other hand are personal and subjective and are not written down anywhere and do not govern others' actions and while they might well be right they may just as easily be wrong.

I'm not saying that there are no cases of justified civil disobedience. Certainly civil rights protests and the leaking of the Pentagon Papers come to mind. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the laws are always wrong and the whistleblowers always right. Each case needs to be discussed on its own merits, through public debate. And sometimes that means that it turned out the laws were right, and the whistleblowers were mistaken.


I have my own (unpopular) opinions on Manning, though while a clear Patriot in my mind (acting in the interests of the greater good), they did indeed commit a crime, and that the sheer volume of the leak from Manning was capricious, harmful, and beyond what was needed to serve the greater good - do I think 30 years in jail was a reasonable response? Frankly, no - but I think they needed at least a slap on the wrist or worst case 2-5 years - I think justice (the interested in the greater good) was served by pardoning Manning.

In short, sometimes you need to act in the spirit of, rather than the letter of the law to act in the interest of the greater good - but if you overreach, expect the long arm of the law to catch you and punish you for that overreach.


Her sentence was commuted she was not pardoned, which is an important distinction.

But still, yes I broadly agree with your position.

Civil disobedience comes with consequence and that consequence shows the states true colors IMO.


I'd argue that some consequence was reasonable in this case, as she went far beyond what was needed to achieve clarity for the greater good.

Yep. Agreed.

Egged on by Assange as well it seems.

Even when she said that’s all I have she was encouraged to go digging for more.


chosen by corporations of the united states, often

if the people choose not to participate, yes. that's why it's up to us to participate. effectively.

Which is so easy given that we're all just swimming in spare time, or sitting on generous supplies of rainy day capital to keep us afloat long enough for our message to be heard, and implemented in a manner consistent with our desires as opposed to those organizations who actually have those things that are doing the same?

Easier said than done.


i hear ya but part of the reason we keep losing ground here is because free market radicals have tilted the playing field so far against the working person that the average working loses too much time struggling to compete that they can't actually work to change things. the only way we can get out of this vicious cycle is by tilting the playing field back the other way. and that, unfortunately, is going to require more hard work, not taking shortcuts (a la Manning, and a la Assange who actually seems to have been working recently to worsen this problem). then maybe we'll see real change.

I don't know what planet you live on, but there is plenty of publicly owned property that I have no access to. If you think otherwise, just try randomly walking onto a military base that does not allow visitation. You may argue what you feel is morally right, but any actual adult has realized that morally right does not equate to the law.

These people are actively muddying the waters by making outlandish claims about what constitutes public and private property.

>US. Government property is publicly/collectively owned by the citizens of the nation

How dare you speak for or decide for the public then. Have you requested access from us or our representatives? Or you think, "fuck it, owned by everyone, I have a license to do whatever I want".


Avoid spreading FUD please. No-one has claimed that Assange provided Manning with any assistance compromising any computer systems. The only revelation from the leaked indictment is that Manning apparently sent him a password hash once and Assange said, "can't break it."

The Manning-Lamo chat logs leaked to Wired also clearly show that Manning sought out Assange. If you have any evidence to the contrary on these two points, please post as your claims are running against what is publicly known.


> No-one has claimed that Assange provided Manning with any assistance compromising any computer systems.

The US government has claimed exactly this in its indictment of Assange:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/press-release/file/1153481...

It's fascinating to me how you can accuse someone of "spreading FUD" without having read the (short) indictment.

In my opinion this is complicated stuff. I think people have not only a right but a moral obligation to leak in order to expose crimes. But it isn't clear that this was Assange's goal. Instead, Assange does a lot of moral posturing and seems mostly driven by ego: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n05/andrew-ohagan/ghosting.

I would be much more sympathetic had Assange or wikileaks provided leaks in a different manner. But they didn't. They released everything, unredacted, without commentary or contextualization which is why the previous poster's restatement of Assange's infantile position is basically accurate:

> So do you really want to live in a world where the governing maxim is that information wants to be free, and that justifies any and all means of getting to it, including breaking into secure information systems?


They also seem to be partisan or at least became that way.

A tool of nation states in the end.


This entire Assage debacle has been nothing but partisan shit flinging by people who read headlines then refine their opinion using the comments section instead of actually reading the articles/indictment and forming an opinion for themselves.

Nowadays when someone "reads" an article, they just skip to the comment section and unwittingly chose the highest voted memetic comment and adapt its opinion as their own, regardless of the facts laid by the article itself.

Sometimes those people go so far as to write their own articles that spread the questionable memetic idea, which is exactly what the OP's article is.

The truth is that Julian Assange is being indited for attempting to break into US gov computer systems. If there was no evidence he had done so, there would not be charges pressed. Nothing about this is a free speech matter.


Merely attempting to assist the break-in is a crime. He attempted.

Same metaphor applies. I try to help someone pick the lock as they try to break-in to a house. This is illegal. It's also illegal for a computer intrusion.

Julian Assange took concrete steps in furtherance of a conspiracy. Whether or not he succeeded is besides the point.

Sorry, it's the law.


Did he? How do you know? As above, evidence rather than speculation please.

Because i read the indictment.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/press-release/file/1153481...

Line 25 under "Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy" - by both his requesting more information about the password and his statement that he had "no luck so far" he indicated that he had been attempting to crack the password.


Read it again, Aqueous. And read it literally this time.

The indictment cites Assange saying, "no luck so far" after asking some questions about the stuff Manning is sending him. You want to read complicity into a vague statement made to excuse non-contribution, whereas there could have been any number of reasons Assange replied that way, such as not alienating a source, or laziness, or knowledge that actually doing anything would put him in legal jeopardy.

There is no actual claim here that Assange did anything to crack the system or assisted Manning in doing so. He is not accused of delivering a password. He is not accused of downloading password cracking software. He is not accused of contacting others to ask for their assistance. He is just accused of saying, "nope, can't help".

If there is evidence that Assange delivered cracked passwords to Manning, I'm sure that people will change their minds and agree with you. But that is not what the indictment claims. And the lack of anything more specific in such a high-profile case suggests there is nothing more that they have on him than an ambiguous statement of sympathy with a source.


Sure, it's an indictment, not a conviction. Whatever you might think of the government's case, it's false to say that "no one has claimed" Assange assisted Manning. The government is clearly making that claim in the indictment.

> If there is evidence that Assange delivered cracked passwords to Manning, I'm sure that people will change their minds and agree with you. But that is not what the indictment claims.

The indictment claims that Assange was guilty of conspiracy to crack the password, not that he actually cracked the password. Conspiracy is a crime in itself. He didn't have to deliver anything to Manning to be guilty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_(criminal)

> The indictment cites Assange saying, "no luck so far" [emphasis mine] after asking some questions about the stuff Manning is sending him.

That's evidence that he took actions to further the conspiracy. The "so far" indicates he was attempting something at the time.


It's like these people don't understand how these charges work.

So - Assange's best defense against this is that, despite his own words, he was lying to Chelsea then, but isn't lying now?

'if there is actually evidence presented that Assange delivered passwords to Manning' - don't you mean if there is evidence that Assange attempted to crack passwords for Manning?

Because again the bar here is attempting to assist, not that he actually succeeded.


Claims that Assange assisted Manning with hacking the documents released by Wikileaks are obviously false. Those claims are inconsistent with the indictment and the publicly-released evidence such as the Manning-Lamo chat logs. There is no public evidence that Assange conspired with Manning to get those materials.

All you are alleging here is conspiracy with regards to targeting of a separate server that was never hacked. If that is the case then evidence can be certainly presented with regards to it, but the burden is on the prosecution not the defense and the statements alleged as regards it do not seem to indicate much beyond a vague excuse for inaction.


A conspiracy to commit a crime is a conspiracy to commit a crime whether or not it was successful. An attempt to help a break-in implicates him in the conspiracy. Assange, by his own words, indicated that he was trying to crack the password hash that Manning gave him. Assange appears to be admitting through his own words that he was assisting in the attempt to commit a crime. What he said is written - verbatim - in the indictment. The indictment was approved by a grand jury. We'll see whether he is guilty if he pleads out or if he is convicted at trial.

The law is pretty clear here. You, on the other hand, are making up the law as you go along. And you're also saying Assange is a liar.


The law is extremely clear: you have to prove intent not just infer it from a vaguely worded chat message that reads the other way. I guess we will see how your predictions about a public trial hold out.

> you have to prove intent

The intent is proven from the in which Assange agrees to provide assistance cracking a password.

That is the textbook definition of "conspiracy to commit a hacking crime".


It seems like your only justification here is outright denial. That's an interesting tactic for someone who claims to care about the law and logic.

Have you read a lot of indictments around conspiracy to commit crimes that end up with convictions? Because I think you have far too naive of a viewpoint about what constitutes evidence.


> There is no actual claim here that Assange did anything to crack the system or assisted Manning in doing so

There is a literal claim that he did that: "Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password".

Whether that holds up or not, or the Government can present stronger evidence to that effect, is another matter.


He said so himself. Please read the indictment.

Cracking a hash is not illegal. That the hash is a password hash does not make it illegal.

Using the cracked hash to access a system you have no authorization to access is illegal.

Don't play the government's (and hollywood's, in case of DVD and Blueray) game. Cracking a hash is not a crime.


Being a locksmith isn't a crime, but knowingly trying to assist someone with breaking into a house that isn't their's very much is.

Attempting to crack a hash with the intent to access a system you have no authorization to access is illegal. The intent is proven by the chat logs.

The law doesn’t work like an RPG you can use loopholes in. Intent matters.

what law clearly states that attempting this is a crime?


[flagged]


We've asked you several times over the past few days to stop sparking and stoking political and ideological flamewar, so we're banning the account. We'd like to unban you if you'll email hn@ycombinator.com and commit to following the guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Should attempting to break into somebody else’s property not be a crime?

Agreeing to attempt, and no.

It wouldn’t be in large parts of the world, so clearly many reasonable people disagree on this.


It wasn't just agreement. By his own statements he indicated that he tried to crack it.

The indictment is pretty clear on this point. We'll have to see what they have to back it up in court, but it's not FUD.

Exactly, if he is to be classed as a journalist, has his past actions conformed with journalist ethics and standards expected within the USA?

I do disagree with him being classified as a journalist as from my understanding he published writings from others. That, if we are to classify him, would place him more within the realms of a publisher, not a journalist.

Hence this is not a threat to journalists, but publishers - who are less protected and the legal buck for journalists actions. That's their job. They are there to make sure journalists adhere to standards as much as write articles wanted. But journalist or publisher, etc - your not above the law and the journalist card is not a get out of free jail card. Never has been and some would argue, more the opposite.


>People need to start thinking about information systems as property

Except they don't ? "You" can, of course, but it doesn't mean "people" need to. There is no scarcity of digital files in the world. You can create and destroy them at will. With real property, you can't. That's also the basic argument against DRM systems. The file isn't scarce. That you transferred the scarcity of resources to make the file to the file itself is something you brought upon yourself. Nobody asked you to. If it does not suit you, you are free to do everything with pen and paper, and put the papers in your wardrobe. You can't have the benefits and convenience (i.e., lack of scarcity) of digital files, and still pretend that they are scarce. Pick one.


So because I put information in a digital format, I cannot own it? Even if I only put it on my hardware and encrypt it etc? If you hack into my stuff and get my information, it isn't criminal because We All Own the Bits??

No, all I am saying is that you cannot equate "breaking and entering" to "decrypting a file". The two are fundamentally different. If you want to deal with crimes pertaining to decryption, you deal with them after the fact based on the actions and their broader context. So in this case, the action is "publishing". Whether publishing is legal or not is governed by different laws.

So if someone steals, er, I mean copies your private information without permission like SSN, bank information, mothers maiden name, debit card numbers, etc. they never committed a crime unless they use or publishes them? I don't think so.

>you deal with them after the fact based on the actions and their broader context. So in this case, the action is "publishing". Whether publishing is legal or not is governed by different laws.

That's done only as a convenience of law enforcement. Just like if you download a Hollywood movie torrent without purchasing it, you're still committing a crime even though law enforcement won't come after you because it takes too many resources.


>Just like if you download a Hollywood movie torrent without purchasing it, you're still committing a crime even though law enforcement won't come after you because it takes too many resources.

No, that's not how DMCA, flawed as it may be, works. The illegal part that can be proven is uploading, not downloading. They get your IP when you upload a chunk in the swarm, which serves as evidence. That's a crucial difference. If you are only a leecher who never uploads a single bit, you would not get a notice. Uploading (or publishing) copyrighted content is governed by a set of laws. Publishing news articles is governed by a different set.


I think it's more analogous to the following than publishing:

If someone steals a safe, and then brings it to me to unlock and I know they stole it originally, I am in violation of the law and clearly committing a criminal act.


If someone steals your safe, you don't have the safe any more, do you ? Does the person from whom you steal a file still have the file ? See why analogies don't work ?

Ah I see. So if I have information in digital form and someone gets it via unauthorized access to my hardware, it isn't criminal because I still have my information. LOL

All data is somewhere in PI, you can not own some part of a natural occuring constant.

Yes, this is a crucial mistake. People love to understand things by analogy, but analogies are limited.

I might explain a filesystem and folder structure to someone by using an analogy that uses paper folders etc. But crucial understanding is lost when I do this. There are significant differences between the systems that make certain rules that apply to one system not apply to the other.

Another reason this is not a useful analogy is if we see information as government property, I am using government property each time I identify myself using my ID card or even my name and date of birth. Surely we should now pay tax each time we do this (or the government should license it to us).

Furthermore, in the specific case of the government, which works in service of the people it governs, government owned information is at odds with its purpose. The government got this information from, and uses it in service of, its citizens. As much of it as possible should be public. For instance, land-surveying information should be public, as well as free (with respect to rights).

The property analogy is too limited. We need to understand information as something different.


Apply some more of that sane and rational thinking to this question: what real evidence do any of us have that Assange attempted to 'break into someones house'? Is conjecture enough to be able to establish a moral position in this particular case?

And then, think of it like this: you see a dark house at the end of the street, a dark den of scum and villainy, and you know that crimes have been committed from this house because you've seen the corpses scattered in its yard. Are you not justified in investigating - or at least, reporting to relevant authorities, that something is going wrong?

Because America today is that house, and the only relevant authorities who can do anything about it, are the American people themselves. (The local law enforcement already know about the house - they sell their crack and bury their corpses there too.. such is the state of the American military-industrial-pharmaceutical complex today, the real, tangible crimes of which are and always have been in Wikileaks sights...)


With all the things released by assange, the crime you want to talk about is hacking? Come on man.

Numerous innocent people were mowed down gleefully. Political powers were sabatoging nations. Evil amok. And the only thing you want to talk about is that hacking allegedly occurred and after 7 years imprisonment assange deserves more?

I won't even get into how different it is to break into someone's home as compared to a govt office...


It’s not imprisonment when you hole up so the police won’t get you. Once they get you, that’s imprisonment.

Being confined to a single building for 7 years is imprisonment. You don't need police or judicial systems to be imprisoned.

He could have left at any time. A defining characteristic of prison is that they lock the door.

So if you are in prison but they forget to lock the door for some time that time doesn't count because you could have physically left?

Well, when one whistle blower tells another whistle blower how to collect the evidence needed for... blowing said whistle about illegal activity, the methods themselves often seem a bit off-book. eg gaining authorised access to materials, transmitting them to third parties for public reveal, etc.

The thing with whistle blowing though, is (some) countries have protections for whistle blowers specifically because off-book methods are commonly needed.

So, even if Assange did assist Manning as stated... the "illegality" here isn't really the point (except to people trying to suppress whistle blowing).

The point is whether whistle blower protections turn out to be fit for purpose. ;)


>Is it legal for a journalist to assist another person in invading someone's home, for the purpose of obtaining information that could be published?

You clearly don't understand the concept of whistleblowing. And you did not read the article you're commenting on:

“Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log onto the computers using a username that did not belong to her,” the indictment says. “Such a measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.” So the goal was to protect Manning’s identity, and Assange offered to assist.


Misfeasance is the real issue here. Wikileaks exposed it. I don't care if Assange broke the cited law, if the US govt is up to no damn good as a US Citizen I have a right to know. If the govt is using the law to retaliate against journalists who expose misfeasance I expect 18 U.S. Code § 214to apply.

> If the govt is using the law to retaliate against journalists

Assange is not a journalist. He conspired to hack a computer system. That is a crime.

Regardless of what you believe to be right, you must acknowledge that sometimes good people have to face consequences for their actions, regardless of the morality of said actions.


>People need to start thinking about information systems as property, in the same way that your house is your property, and your car is your property. In this case, the information system is government property, which for some reason many people believe gives us special license to take whatever we want from it.

You've skipped over a chunk of logic there which I feel bears closer scrutiny.

The house and the car are owned by people, who feel emotional distress when their privacy is invaded. Governments do not feel emotional distress ever.

It's also hard to argue that governments are harmed by invasions of privacy the same way an individual might be, because governments wield much power in the form of monopolization of force and have more control over how information they dislike is used. See the British parliaments ban on using parliamentary footage for comedy purposes.

The point is, while I'm not saying government information systems should be a free-for-all, I am personally of the opinion that the larger an organization gets, the less right it has to privacy. I don't agree with your logical leap of "people deserve privacy -> governments are basically people -> governments deserve privacy". Governments don't have a right to privacy the way people do.


This is a red herring because of the context. Wikileaks regularly dumped sensitive information like names of local informants in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan without redacting it, getting them killed in some cases.

This isn't a privacy issue it's a property issue. Just because the government is big doesn't mean it can't own (digital) property.

>Just because the government is big doesn't mean it can't own (digital) property.

The topic of whether there's any meaning to the concept of owning digital property when anything digital is a post-scarcity asset that costs essentially nothing to duplicate is something that society still hasn't really agreed upon.


But we're talking about proprietary government information here. Just because it's digital doesn't mean that it can't be criminal to access it via unauthorized channels. It isn't a matter of "oh you still have your copy" - I'd be surprised if anyone actually thinks that because something is a string of bits it means that there can't be an illegal way of obtaining those bits.

Is the government entitled in any way to “proprietary information” that is then treated like property?

We (some of us) allow corporations to treat proprietary information as intellectual property with the same legal protections as physical property because it benefits society to protect the revenue streams of eg hollywood so that they will continue producing new movies at a profit. But it is a specific hack to protect revenue streams of businesses to incentivize them to produce new and valuable information.

We never agreed to the same protections for the state, or even that such is good or necessary.

I am not sure how treating a video bitstream of war crimes (produced with hardware purchased with my tax money) as “property” that does not belong to me (a member of the group who paid for its production) benefits society. I am not sure how punishing someone who furnished me with a copy of that bitstream as someone who “stole” benefits society or encourages production of new or innovative or valuable information. Recall, that is the whole basis for the concept of “intellectual property” - a metaphor for businesses to profit from spending time and money producing new bitstreams, by shoehorning it into old physical property protection systems. The state is not a business and their prosperity is not an explicit goal of our society.

All it does it protect the state, who has demonstrated over and over again its willingness to break the law, perpetrate violence, and lie to everyone about all of it.

That is not a legal interpretation of “property” that we agreed to.


>But we're talking about proprietary government information here. Just because it's digital doesn't mean that it can't be criminal to access it via unauthorized channels.

Right. We're debating whether that might be an ok thing to do under some circumstances. The government that is protesting criminal access to it's records is the government that gets to set what is or is not criminal, which is a clear conflict of interest.

If that government was morally praiseworthy, we might be willing to assume it is capable of rising above this conflict of interest. However, the government in question has, in it's recent history, knowingly opened fire on children with gunships and then attempted to cover it up, so I personally am of the opinion that it doesn't have a track record that would imply it is capable of rising above that conflict of interest.

Hence, I'm not very interested in what US law says on this matter, but I would be inclined to hear what the UN has to say on the matter.


Justice Black had something to say about the role of journalism when he ruled on the New York Times publishing material from the Top Secret Pentagon Papers, showing how our leaders had misled the public about the Vietnam war:

>In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

Concurring in New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971).

The Obama administration had the same information that the Trump administration used to make it's "hacking" claim and came to a very different conclusion.

>“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”

Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.” If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/julia...


It's important to look at the actual indictment [1] rather than all the commentary about it, because everyone involved seems to have an axe to grind thanks to Assange's colorful character.

The indictment charges Assange with conspiring with Manning to unlawfully gain new access to a protected government computer system. Specifically:

* Assange gave Manning a CD to boot from on the target computer, containing tools to copy the protected password data.

* Assange received a copy of the password hashes from Manning, and attempted to crack them.

Regardless of what reasons the Obama administration had to proceed or not proceed with the indictment at the time (which we are not privy to), these are very clearly defined criminal offenses in the USA, with much precedent behind them. Had Assange not provided the hacking tools, and had he not attempted to crack the passwords, this indictment would never have happened.

Press freedom and protecting your sources is not the issue here; it's about conspiring to hack a government computer.

[1] https://www.lawfareblog.com/document-julian-assange-indictme...


>Had Assange not provided the hacking tools, and had he not attempted to crack the passwords, this indictment would never have happened.

He has not been under trial yet, so how do you know with such certainty he actually did that?

>Press freedom and protecting your sources is not the issue here;

A lot of very prominent people who deal with politics, activism and journalism disagree with this assessment. On top of that list would be: Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and Noam Chomsky. Their reasoning seems pretty solid. And unlike some media people, they didn't suddenly flip-flop in their positions on such issues.


Allegedly then. It doesn't change the nature of the charges.

And who cares what prominent people think ? They aren't the ones who will be judging whether Assange committed a crime or not. Lots of prominent people have defended guilty people before.


>And who cares what prominent people think?

Well, I happen to value Glenn Greenwald's analysis of the impact this prosecution will have on journalism a tad more than unsubstantiated comments from random people on Hacker News.


I for one will wait for a trial rather than speculating on the internet.

None of those people are lawyers, and asking Snowden and Greenwald is like asking a defendants mother if their kid did it.

> Assange gave Manning a CD to boot from on the target computer, containing tools to copy the protected password data.

what's wrong with this?

> * Assange received a copy of the password hashes from Manning, and attempted to crack them.

Assange tried to find the pre-image of a hash. There's nothing criminal about that either.


> what's wrong with this?

It's conspiracy.

> Assange tried to find the pre-image of a hash. There's nothing criminal about that either.

That's also conspiracy. You can't take these two acts out of context. They were done with the intent of stealing and disseminating classified information which is illegal.


Informing the public of situations where the government is killing innoscent people is illegal, no big suprice. But that doesn’t mean we have to support extradition to North Korea of every journalist who publishes the truth about that horrible regime. And by the same merit you don’t have to support the American regime going after Assange for exposing their murders of innoscent.

Yes, intent matters, and there's a reasonable case that what he did was illegal.

But because intent matters, if Assange's intent was to reveal information that the public should know, then what he did shouldn't be illegal.


Is your question “what’s wrong with a non-citizen supplying the means for a member of the military to access and share sensitive data”? I should have thought it obvious what is wrong with that.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with briskly thrusting a knife back and forth. But if there’s a person stood in front of you and you intend to kill them, the moral and legal context changes. Context and intent matter.


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Well except he had been under investigation for 2-3 months. It's not like the charges came out of no where.

Yes, and the Cablegate leaks were announced months in advance as well, IIRC. They had to redact some of the names before release. In fact the first, less significant documents were released as early as Feb 18, 2010.

Please give sources

To what

the comment was flagged

So it appears that the author of this piece and the authors of the nearly identical Intercept piece [0] are skeptical of the "conspiracy to hack" charges brought against Assange. From what I understand, the action conspired towards was gaining access to an account on a government network that neither Assange nor Manning had access to ordinarily, with the goal of better covering Mannong's tracks (the other account had just as much file access rights as Manning).

I understand the claim that this was an effort by Assange to protect his information source, but should it really not be considered Bad to login to someone else's account on a government network and spoof your actions with their name attached? Is it so unreasonable to believe that that's somehow too far?

[0] https://theintercept.com/2019/04/11/the-u-s-governments-indi...


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I don't think it can be meaningfully described that way. It certainly publishes a lot of material that is inconvenient for US authorities, and that is also certainly convenient to the Russian authorities, because they can then engage in their favorite game of "and you're lynching Negroes!". The only problem is that the stuff that The Intercept digs out is still true. If we don't find it to our liking, then we should stop our government from behaving in a manner that embarrasses it and us whenever it is exposed in public. And then we wouldn't debate the morality of imprisoning someone who exposed a war crime cover up in a reckless manner than endangered other people.

No, that kind of thing is fine...the issues is the it often acts as an apologist to certain Russian policies that are clearly human rights violations or counter to democracy/a free society.

No journalist would help their sources hack their employer for more documents. Journalists can take documents their source already has; but helping their source illegally access more documents is against the law.

Imagine if these were physical documents in a safe. A journalist helping the source crack that safe would be very illegal.


I thought Manning already had access to the documents in question. The goal of getting into another account was to cover their tracks, not to gain unauthorized access.

Breaking into another account is unauthorized access. Doesn't matter if that account had more, the same, or even less access than Manning's account.

You have a very positive image of journalists :)

A journalist giving someone else a document that explain how a particular brand of safe can be cracked is not illegal. Handing someone knowledge is not illegal.

Actually cracking the safe is illegal. We've been over this for decades. Once it was about simply encrypting. Others about documents on bomb making. Or safe cracking. Or lock picking.

The information is legal. Putting it in practice to gain unauthorized access is illegal.


>A journalist giving someone else a document that explain how a particular brand of safe can be cracked is not illegal. Handing someone knowledge is not illegal.

Terrible analogy. Assange obtained the actual NTLM hash from Manning of the user they were trying to crack the password of and attempted to crack it with the full knowledge that it was a top secret US military login. He wasn't sending her generic knowledge on how to crack NTLM passwords.

>Actually cracking the safe is illegal.

Attempting to crack a safe that you don't have authorization to, with the intent of stealing things from it is also illegal even if you failed to crack it.

Just like going around the neighborhood trying the doors of homes or pulling handles of cars is illegal.


Assange is in my opinion a slimeball, and not a neutral player, but I don't think he committed a crime - at least not anymore than Daniel Ellsberg did when they published the Pentagon Papers, or for that matter Bob Woodward did when publishing the Watergate Leaks from the FBI - but, like I said, not a Neutral Player - he has his own agenda, which while from time to time may align with the interests of the greater good, is neither benign or uniformly positive. I dont consider the charges against Assange to be any more of a risk to journalism than the charges leveled against Ellsberg in the wake of the publication of the Pentagon Papers - and will likely not survive a trial. The assertion that he helped Manning beyond acting as a publisher/dissemination method is absurd and more or less baseless.

There is an important difference between Assange and Ellsberg so your comparison of the two isn’t a good one:

Assange did not steal and leak the materials, he was the outside party publishing them.

On the other hand Ellsberg was the person working for the government who copied and leaked all the materials and knew he might face charges for that reason.

In this comparison Manning would be compared to Ellsberg. And Assange would be the reporter at The NY Times or WaPo (I’m brain farting here) who published them.


He wasn't just publishing them. He is accused of trying to crack the NTLM hash of a DoD admin login.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/document-julian-assange-indictme...


NYT, and you're right

The government's position isn't that he "helped" Manning, it is that Manning acted, in part on the direction of Assange. If I remember correctly, their correspondence between each other occurred before Manning did anything. Assange basically said he would publish it if it were given to him.

So imagine if a journalist did that, and told someone "if you break into this person's house, I will publish your findings. Since neither of us like this person."

Would that be illegal? It would definitely be illegal.


It's more than that, it's that Assange actively assisted in the crime.

A better analogy would be that as he was casing the joint, he called up someone, told them he was going to break in, and asked for instructions on how to pick locks. At that point, rendering such assistance makes you an accomplice.

"Publishing" documents is not what Assange is being indicted for, and his defenders refuse to accept that point. It is cited as an aggravating circumstance, which is indeed arguably an overreach.


How would that be illegal? I'm sure journalists do that all the time.

I have to say, this makes me sad. I visit HN daily, mostly look at the headlines and rarely engage in the discussion, but seeing what are supposed to be smart, thinking people commenting in here just saddens me. Same goes for the other 1k+ comments on the previous thread.

It seems you people think it's ok to have someone end up like this guy for helping a source get us information we all benefited from. You can say trying to protect this source's identity is conspiracy to commit computer hacking, but your head needs to be buried very deep into the sand to pretend this is anything but the excuse used to get him.

The actual crime here is holding governments accountable. Trying, at least.

I understand most of you didn't love him for exposing problems inside a political party otherwise set to win the election. I really do. I understand he didn't do much to be loved by the public. I understand 10 years of propaganda could make most people change their mind about a saint. But here, too?

I listened to his most recent interview today and I really enjoyed his views. I half expect people to point out this is Russian state media, and yes, the reds are out to get you but can listen to it in the background, that way the watermark can't bother you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J98ed6oML2A

I lost one fifth of my karma yesterday defending the guy, let's see if this comment goes the same way.

Edit: funny enough my comment went to -3 in no time before slowing crawling its way back to +1. Almost like if... Nah.


I agree with your sentiment of disappointment in the general response on HN to this. And I also have the same disappointment in the general media's response. I thought Tulsi Gabbard's defense of Assange to Tapper on CNN was spot on, and can't believe it's up to a few politicians to defend journalism on a news network instead of the news network itself.

The previous Obama administration went very hard against whistle blowers, but even they ultimately decided that prosecuting Assange for this would be a step too far.

What's happening seems to be people don't like him for various reasons (fair enough), are blind to the larger issues and chilling effects caused by this prosecution, and so with motivated reasoning decide this is not about politics and is about hacking, he's a bad hacker who tried to crack a Government password, and they're just standing up for some principal of not trying to hack Govt passwords or some such.


Would you mind telling me the gist of his comment? Was there a good reason for flagging it?

I could have sworn that you used to be able to still read [flagged] comments here. When did that change, or am I misremembering?


What is your alternative? People you personally like are not allowed to face legal action?

Does anyone have the specifics of what was the exact nature of Julian Assange’s help in cracking the password? Specifically,

1. Did Assange send Manning the name of utility that would crack the password?

Or

2. Did Assange send Manning a link to the utility in order to download it?

Or

3. Did Assange send Manning a page of Google search results, and/or a Wikipedia page, a technical article or blog post with the computer science fundamentals behind password-cracking?

Or

4. Did Assange send Manning a technical article or blog post with step by step instructions to crack the password?

Or

5. Did Assange crack the password himself?

I apologize if this information has been released somewhere and I haven’t seen it. In addition, apologize if the questions that I asked sound painfully fundamental or demeaning towards Assange or Manning.

What I am trying to get at is how easy it seems to get in trouble with the law in this case. Suppose someone comes up to me and says they want to know how to hotwire a car (or whatever the term is) in order to steal it, I happen to blurt out that this someone can “just Google that”, and then this person goes out and does just that without me being totally sure about their intent to do so. Am I now an accomplice to the crime?



Thanks a lot 'r721 ! That’s even more worrying where there might be mismatch between the recorded intent and the actual intent.

This subthread is quite interesting, apparently "In a conspiracy charge, the outcome doesn’t need to be achieved, only there was a “meeting of minds” and steps taken to achieve that end goal":

https://twitter.com/MalwareJake/status/1116417498168156166


The saddest part in this Twitter thread is the comment about Manning being a sociopath, and how people who disagree are "entitled whites". Not sure what the connection is even, but there's a certain irony given that Manning exposed killings of indigenous non-whites in what many on the left consider to be, in essence, a white colonial adventure.

IANAL but he’s awaiting trial for hacking, not being a journalist. Whether or not the charges are true will be one for the courts to figure out.

To be pedantic, he's awaiting sentencing for skipping bail and then an extradition request (or two, depending on how the Sweden situation pans out). He may or may not face trial for the alleged crimes.

I would not just trust the courts on this one. We should all care and protest where we can.

Protest what? Your assumption that this will be a show trial/ kangaroo court?

This is why we have a justice system. He has the right of due process and a grand jury still has to decide if we should pursue the case.

> a grand jury still has to decide if we should pursue the case.

A grand jury has already decided that: that's what an indictment means.


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If you keep posting unsubstantively we'll ban the account.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Exactly. It will be sorted out in court. I'm not sure what else people expect.

Are you sure? This seems to be a pretty big political issue in the UK.

US doesn’t exactly have a strong track record of successfully extraditing people from the UK for hacking the military.


Isn't his "crime" releasing documents that Manning stole?

Manning, by the way, who had their sentence commuted by president Obama...


> Isn't his "crime" releasing documents that Manning stole?

No, releasing documents is not conduct that he is charged with.

> Manning, by the way, who had their sentence commuted by president Obama...

Commutation is not a pardon; it is merely a limitation on punishment. Now, a pardon still wouldn't invalidate the Assange charges, but the idea that the fact that a coconspirator got less punishment than their original sentence negates the validity of charges against someone else in the conspiracy is laughable.


The article goes to great length to show that the supposed crimes (except for the one password, maybe) are things that journalists do. It's even more shady because his co-conspirator, and the one who was charged with and convicted of the crimes that are unambiguously illegal, has been pardoned.

edit: I don't really care about the difference between pardon an commuted sentence because they both are a get out of jail free card.


>except for the one password

If he did attempt to break the password hash, he conspired to hack military systems. I don't see why someone who attempted to break a password hash for access to classified documents shouldn't be prosecuted, journalist or not.


Don't mil guys have DoD cards or some such? Why would hacking a password help anything? You still need to have a card for you account, no?

At least back then SIPRNet had a password login for normal users. I've been out for nearly a decade, so I don't know if the situation has changed.

Well, there are lots of jurisdictions in the world where it’s not a crime to conspire.

Presumably there are quite a few reasonable people who disagree on the necessity of prosecuting “crimes” like this. Why’s your way the right way?


What countries allow their journalists to attempt to hack the country's military without consequence?

Well this one apparently allows it's soldiers given the pardon of the co-conspirator. And, yes I think it should be severely punished in either case, but seeing both go free is a lot less scary than seeing unequal justice handed down because one was a thorn in the governments side.

It wasn't a pardon, it was a commuting of sentence. Huge difference.

The law doesn't necessarily agree, but that doesn't mean its analogous reasoning is just, or even technically correct.

Here's a better lens: Assange attempted to solve a math problem.

Solving a hash is not the same as breaking a physical lock, or attempting entry.


> The article goes to great length to show that the supposed crimes (except for the one password, maybe) are things that journalists do.

He's only charged with one crime, not multiple, and the “one password” is an integral part of the one crime he is charged with. What “supposed crimes” beside that are you referring to?


You're correct that he's charged with one crime. OP means "of the alleged acts that constitute the crime," all but the password one are things that journalists do routinely.

Read the section "Manners and Means of the Conspiracy"[1] in the indictment. If you removed the second half of bullet 18 (the only part pertaining to the password), this could be used against almost any journalist.

[1] https://www.lawfareblog.com/document-julian-assange-indictme...


No, it couldn't. It is not a journalistic norm to collaborate in advance on the criminal acquisition of material by a leaker, and if a journalist does do that they are relying on political factors, not the law, to protect them from prosecution afterward.

Yeah, it's normal for journalists to engage with sources and to acquire information from them, sometimes information that the sources have themselves obtained illegally. But it crosses a bright line for them to collaborate in the illegal acquisition.

Now, you might argue that but for the agreement about the password, the “manner and means” section is largely descriptive of normal journalistic practice. But the manner and means, while necessary description and support, aren't the heart of a conspiracy charge. The “purpose and object” is, and the password is the key part of the manner and means supporting the distinction of the purpose and object from what occurs in normal journalistic practice.

The password isn't a side issue; it's what distinguishes this from “I talked to a source and got copies of documents they stole from safe deposit boxes at the bank where they work” and “I was let into the bank by the source and tried to drill out the lock of a safe deposit box he lacked the key for”.

The former is within the scope of journalism. The latter is not.


I'm taking the "Manners and Means Section" to be equivalent to "these are the acts that taken together constitute the crime." That is the context of my post.

If you don't agree with this, what do you take that to mean?

The "Purpose and Object of the Conspiracy" section is not a collection of acts that constitute the conspiracy. It's the objective of the conspiracy. An objective is not an act.

I agree that actually attempting to crack a password so that a source can cover his/her tracks is beyond the actions of a journalist.

And as far as "collaborate in advance" not being a journalistic activity- do you not consider "cultivating sources"[1] to be a core journalistic activity?

Let's say a source/whistleblower reaches out to an NYT journalist. They communicate over "Signal" an encrypted chat. The source worries about being detected in passing the confidential material they've obtained. The NYT journalists assists the source by providing a link to this NYT article "How to tell us a secret"[2].

You could then remove the second half of section 18- add in some other part about the journalist conspiring to assist the source in covering his/her tracks, and reuse this indictment.

That's the threat to journalism.

[1] https://ijnet.org/en/story/developing-and-cultivating-source... [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/19/reader-center/confidentia...


> Let's say a source/whistleblower reaches out to an NYT journalist. They communicate over "Signal" an encrypted chat. The source worries about being detected in passing the confidential material they've obtained. The NYT journalists assists the source by providing a link to this NYT article "How to tell us a secret"[2].

That's not collaboration in advance in the source illegally gaining access to the material. Were the collaboration about delivery from the source alone, I'd agree that there was a potential threat to routine journalistic activity, but that is not the case here.


Chelsea Manning's sentence was commuted but she was not pardoned - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/us/politics/obama-commute...

That's a big exception, and his co-conspirator was not pardoned.

Manning was not pardoned, she had her sentence commuted.

Perhaps I’m cynical, but the outrage from the media over the arrest of Assange smacks of duplicity for me. After all, it was Asaange who helped leak documents which then the media could write about. He was almost doing their job for them. Distant echoes of when Gizmodo found an iPhone 4, and some tech journalist ( Who would have loved the scoop) scolded them.

I don't understand where the duplicity would be in that. "The media" (your term) used documents from Wikileaks in their reporting and now are outraged about the arrest of Assange? There is nothing incongruent about that.

Did I misunderstand you?


Some in the press are alleging he’s an “activist”, not a real journalist[1], which seems self serving.

The reason, they hope to “define” what s true journalist is, so that they can remain gatekeepers of who journalists are and what is news. Baffling.

[1]https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/11/opinions/julian-assange-activ...


I was going to post the same thing but I fumbled in finding the right word, incongruent of course. In general the media will protest when they perceive a threat to freedom of press which is both self interested and highly useful.

>Assange offered to try to crack a computer password for Manning

>“Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log onto the computers using a username that did not belong to her,” the indictment says. “Such a measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.”

It's up for a trial to determine how much / if any of that happened, but if it did it seems well outside the boundaries of what a journalist should do.

I don't expect a journalist to be assisting someone in accessing information illegally. If the journalist is just given it fine they should be protected, but this seems a good step beyond that.

The article talks about how it would have helped protect that source but it's clear it also would have provided more information / assisted in that process.

Let alone a concern I would have if I were a journalist (I'm not) that providing my source with some cover of another real world person could seriously harm that other person.


Reporting on leaked documents is one thing. Helping your source crack passwords on government computers is another.

Yeah, I guess it's a little bad to help crack a password but it also doesn't seem like a huge deal. Part of the stuff that Assange leaked included footage of American helicopters murdering people - which seems like a much bigger deal. If I crack your password and read your email and discover you're a serial killer, then yes, I've done wrong and should be punished for the minor crime I've committed, but you should be punished for the serial killing too.

In my view Assange should be sentenced to a hundred hours of community service immediately after the people responsible for planning and executing the vastly more consequential crimes Assange revealed are sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.


It doesn't feel like a crime serious enough for extradition to me.

He is guilty of skipping bail, which is a serious crime. It's possible that there's merit for what Sweden wanted to extradite him for, and the courts should look at the merits of extraditing him to Sweden


Sweden has dropped those charges though.

Yeah, the Assange case is going to tie everyone up in knots, because he's practically the definition of 'complicated'.

Everyone's going to take a different side, based on:

- He helped make available information genuinely in the public interest about US technically-not-quite war crimes.

- He's alleged to have committed sex crimes in Sweden

- He arguably delivered the presidency to Trump

Edit: it's kind of an ethical version of rock-paper-scissors - no matter what position you take, Assange himself has provided a reason not to take that position.


What if Rachel Maddow had a source inside the IRS who's trying to get at a folder that has trump tax returns and other financial details but doesn't have access. Source says they can deliver everything if Maddow can get some passwords on a thumb drive cracked. Maddow says she can't but to keep trying.

> The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Journalism

The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Russian Agents.

FTFY. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19635988


So. Mind you I haven't really followed what Assange did or didn't do. But it seems like a lot of people are angry at him because they think he is responsible for having Trump becoming president. Before that, the same people seemed pretty supportive of him.

Don't be ridiculous, HN is a bastion of rationality. Comparing breaking government computers to reveal war crimes with burglarizing your personal home convinces you to take the matter personally. This is how rational dispassionate people argue.

From a UK perspective Assange started to fall out of favour before whatever happened in the 2016 USA elections. Avoiding rape charges and skipping out on bail (which people had put money towards in good faith) will do that.

"rape charges"

These never existed, and were the most obvious part of his character assassination.

Unless you have a link to a Swedish government domain which has published such things?


It was one of the charges listed on the European arrest warrant.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

> 4. Rape

> On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enkoping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep. was in a helpless state.

Whatever you think of Assange's guilt or innocence, it is a fact that he was charged with rape.


It seems you didn't read or comprehend the document you linked? What you just referred to as "one of the charges" is literally not a list of charges, it's a list of "offences" which is not the same. Glossing over these definitions is absurd, and half of this document is literally discussing/determining what these differences are and whether the legal frameworks can be upheld across borders or not.

The entire purpose of that court's review was to determine if the European arrest warrant could be considered valid in the UK.

It explains very clearly and in great detail that he has not been "charged" because that's not how the Swedish judicial system works.


His perceived support of Trump definitely eroded his fragile asylum with the Ecuadorians. They released multiple statements that made it obvious they were getting fed up with him at the time.

Personally, I think his support of Trump was a transparent attempt to receive some kind of quid pro quo when the inevitable prosecution happened. Obama has already set the precedent by commuting Chelsea Manning's sentence. It wouldn't be that unexpected for Trump to do the same for Assange.


I could understand your reasoning if Trump loved Wikileaks but he does not know what Wikileaks is.

He knows enough about it to be enthusiastic about it, at least back when it helped him get elected.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n7VyHbqkas


Good lord. He said he "didn't know about WikiLeaks" when asked about the recent Julian Assange arrest. He was obviously s to stating he wasn't up-to-date on the recent developments. He had said something similar to that in a previous interview. Stop watching trash media.

I mean it came out that he/wikileaks were communicating and coordinating with the Trump campaign and Assange requested that Trump ask the Aus govt to appoint him as Aussie ambassador to the US as payment for helping him win.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/the-sec...

So many that supported him earlier don't support him anymore because he was delaying and timing leaks and selectively leaking things to help get Trump elected. I personally felt he lost the moral high ground after that.


The charges in question are still regarding those earlier leaks, though. One can reasonably argue whether they were morally right or not, or even that it's too complicated to simplify like that - but it has to be argued in that original context.

>he was delaying and timing leaks and selectively leaking things to help get Trump elected.

Isn't it also possible, that he was selectively leaking things to ensure that someone he knew to be a war criminal would not gain power in the American presidency?


What does moral high ground have to do with being charged and extradited?

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50 years for not even cracking a password sounds harsh.

He committed the ultimate sin. He wasted some rich people’s money.

He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t get the chair.


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Sorry I'm from the UK so this sounds really surreal. The USA was tired of politicians lying to them so they elected... Trump? Help me out here.

Just like Thiel said before becoming the most hated famous person in the valley, voters were desperate for an outsider. The politicians == liar equivalency was well established in people's minds and they wanted to try something different. "Drain the swamp" was an amazing slogan that worked perfectly for them. (Italian here). And as an Italian I will say that sounds like what Berlusconi was riding on during his first election.

It's largely about him saying things directly instead of using the traditional dog whistles, at least on the issues that his target audience was most concerned about. In "normal" politics, you're allowed to imply it all, so long as you coach it in the language that is appropriate for the times. Here's one historical example:

"You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger". By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this", is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger". So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the backbone."

This is Lee Atwater, explaining the Republican "southern strategy", and its evolution over time. But the same happened on most everything else.

And then comes Trump, and straight up says that Mexican immigrants are rapists, and Muslims need to be banned. Which is exactly what most of his base were thinking - so hearing him say it out loud earned him that "honest man who says things as they are" reputation among them.


This comment is so far out of touch with reality. He never said Mexicans are rapist, he never said ban all Muslims. There is racism on both sides, both in the minority. Democrats/Dixiecrats had a racist past as well.

I'm sure you'll link soundbites from liberal leaning sites. But his supporters know what he meant, we don't take it literally that he thinks all Mexicans are racist. My wife and her Mexican family fully support him.


I don't need to link to soundbites from liberal leaning sites for this. It's all two clicks away on YouTube, for anybody willing to watch.

I also have an interesting perspective on die-hard Trump supporters. You see, despite being a liberal, I'm also pro-gun - and so I end up in many of the same political spaces side by side with them. So I get to hear a lot of unchecked, unfiltered in-group talk. It's actually far worse than a literal take on what he says, especially wrt Muslims. I've heard people say things like "I hate Muslims" and "we should strip them all of citizenship and deport them", with nodding all around. I've seen police officers describe the people they "serve as protect" as filthy subhuman animals - not some people, note, but literally the entire (majority Black) population of their precinct. And so on, and so forth.


There are bad eggs on both sides. Grouping people together based on their political beliefs doesn't help.

I'm libertarian, economically conservative. Pro gun, pro abortion (within limits), pro legalizing drugs, pro borders, atheist.

I have lived all over the world, and racism/prejudice is in many forms. Blacks hating whites, whites hating blacks, asians hating whites, Mexicans hating blacks.

And that's just with race, it's even worse when it comes to political beliefs and religious beliefs. It's became okay to completely group people together and label an entire belief something based on the actions of a minor percentage of the group.

What you're doing is no better than those racists you've had the misfortune to deal with. There are plenty nice people down here that don't feel that way.


Seems everything I want to say here is likely to end up as [flagged].

If only I wanted to cast vague and unsubstantiated aspersions; then I'd be fine.


The material support claim is he helped direct how to hack passwords, but I've only seen claims of that, and the Obama administration didnt think it was true at the time.

But now, that claim is back and the same week Ecuador receives 4.2 billion... Great Timing.




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