Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Assange to be investigated over theft of US military secret



Assange to be investigated over theft of US military secret

  • by: Lucy Carne in London
  • From: The Advertiser
  • December 26, 2011 12:00AM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is under house arrest in London. / AP Source: AP

NEW claims have emerged that Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange played a role in stealing US military secrets which he published online.

The 40-year-old former hacker was accused by lawyers in the US of coaching Private Bradley Manning, 24, on how to crack passwords and hack into military computer networks.

During Manning's pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, northwest of Washington, last week lawyers produced logs of online chats that show Assange, pictured, played a role in Manning uploading 700,000 stolen military documents which were passed on to WikiLeaks.

US government digital forensic experts who examined Manning's computer found communications between him and an online chat user identified as Julian Assange, who guided Manning to break "hash codes".

Assange is under house arrest in Kent, east of London, as he fights extradition to Sweden for the alleged rape and sexual assault of two women. He faces Britain's Supreme Court in February to appeal his extradition.

During his lengthy legal fight, Assange said he feared the US would swiftly move to extradite him from Sweden to face espionage charges due to WikiLeaks' release of sensitive diplomatic cables.

British barrister and extradition expert Julian Knowles, QC, said this new evidence could mean that Assange's legal battle may have got much worse.

"This is the first overt sign that the US is looking to extradite Assange, so from that point of view, if I were him I would be concerned," Mr Knowles told The Times.

"There has been a lot of press speculation that the US may want him. There is no doubt that the penalties he would face in the US are very much more serious than in Sweden."

Mr Knowles also said if Assange wins his UK appeal, he could be extradited to the US sooner.

"If he loses, which I think he probably will, he will be going to Sweden, which would mean the US will probably wait," he said.

"If he wins at the Supreme Court, then the US will probably jump in. So the victory he's hoping for would not really be a victory at all."

Copyright 2011 News Limited.


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