WikiLeaks works in public interest, hearing “Pentagon Papers” leaker Julian Assange

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Julian Assange’s lawyers argue that they won’t get a fair hearing in the United States (File)

London:

The man, who leaked “Pentagon Papers” about the Vietnam War, defended Julian Assange at his London extradition hearing on Wednesday, saying that WikiLeaks had acted in the public interest and warning Assange would not lead to a fair trial in the US.

The 49-year-old Australian-origin Assange is fighting to prevent him from being sent to the United States, where he is accused of conspiring to hack government computers and violating espionage laws on the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010–2011. Is charged.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked documents known as Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other papers in 1971, told the court that WikiLeaks’ revelations had shown Americans how they had leaked US leaks in Iraq and Afghanistan. Were misguided, who were also in the form of leaks. First secret information about the Vietnam War was revealed.

Ellsberg cited a US military video published by WikiLeaks in 2010 under the title “Collateral Murder”, which killed a dozen people in an 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad, including two Reuters news Employees were also involved.

“I was fully aware that what is depicted in that video is a murder, a war crime,” he told via video at Old Bailey Court in London. “I was very happy that the American public was coping with this reality of our war.”

James Lewis, a lawyer representing US officials, said Assange wanted not to publish the 2007 video, but to disclose a small number of documents with unreliable names from sources or informants.

Lewis said that many of these have been harmed or threatened because they were named. He said some had disappeared, although he admitted that there was no evidence that it was directly linked to the publication of WikiLeaks.

“How could you possibly say … that there is no evidence that Mr. Assange’s publication of WikiLeaks has endangered anyone. It’s just pure bullshit,” Lewis said.

Ellsberg, who himself was charged with breaking espionage law in a case that was later dismissed, said there was no evidence of physical harm or death due to the leak. The exchange with Lewis led to displeasure with Assange in the court room, with the judge warning him to keep quiet.

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Earlier, John Goetz, an investigative reporter who worked for Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine on the first publication of the documents in 2010, said Assange was careful to ensure that the names of informers were never published in hundreds of thousands of secret US government documents. Did not happen.

He said that the US State Department was involved in a conference call that suggested the cuts, and that WikiLeaks had agreed to hold back about 15,000 documents for publication.

“There was sensitivity and it was one of those things that was talked about all the time,” Goetz told the court. Assange was adamant that the media should take measures to “not harm anyone”.

The State Department did not immediately respond when asked to comment on Getz’s testimony.

Goetz said WikiLeaks was disappointed when a password that contained the full, unproven content was published in a book by Guardian reporters in February 2011.

Assange’s lawyers argue that he will not get a fair trial in the United States and that the allegations are politically motivated. He has also said that if he is sent to the United States, he will be at risk of suicide, where he says he could face up to 175 years in prison.

In 2012, Assange took refuge in the London embassy in Ecuador to escape extradition to Sweden, where he was charged with sexual offenses, which he denied and was later released. Seven years later, he was pulled from the embassy in 2019 by the British police and then jailed for dropping bail related to the Swedish case.

He has since been in jail since his extradition request to the United States.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)

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