The United States will seek to charge Julian Assange with espionage a new letter from the U.S Department of Justice confirms. Investigating the former Wikileaks editor for “obtaining and disseminating secret information”, the charge of espionage carries a death sentence.
The letter, published by German digital rights and culture blog Netzpolitik, proves beyond doubt that the current charges Assange faces are not the end of the United States’ intentions, rather only the beginning.
Writing to former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the DOJ confirmed that they were investigating Assange for “unauthorized receipt and dissemination of secret information”, a matter under the Espionage Act of 1917 with a maximum punishment of death. Given the public nature of Wikileaks and the immense damage done to America’s national reputation by Assange, it is likely that the death penalty is seen by many in America as the only possible punishment for Assange.
However, facing a potential death sentence means that Assange cannot be extradited to the United States. Under British law, no person may be extradited under threat of torture or death unless assurances are given to the UK that the death penalty will not be applied. The way this might potentially be avoided by the U.S. is duplicitously not filing the new charges until Assange has already been extradited under the current changes, keeping the UK officially “clean” of having extradited Assange to face death.
A full translation and printing of the letter in question can be found at netzpolitik.org.