By Joe Montero
In a new twist in the Julian Assange case, United States has launched another smear campaign against the WikiLeaks founder, journalist, and editor.
Although ostensibly to strengthen the legal case for extradition and conviction on espionage charges, the immediate purpose is another wave of character assassination through the media.
It is now being claimed that Assange is no more than a hacker, and that there is evidence that he has collaborated with known individuals to hack into computer systems.
Assange is alleged to have helped a Sigurdur Thordarson, to hack into an Iceland government computer system. This was, allegedly again, assisted by former Anonymous linked Hector Monsegur. Monsegur, who is also known by the handle Sabu, had been apprehended by the the authorities in Finland, which collaborated with the American FBI. He faced the prospect of 124 years imprisonment.
Thordarson it turns out, is a con artist and was sentenced to three years in 2015 for sexual abuse committed against minors. Apparently, he had earlier hovered around WikiLeaks, where he is alleged to haves stolen thousands of dollars raised through the sale of t shirts and other merchandise. He was never an important figure in the organisation.
He was also facing a number of criminal charges. This is when he teamed up with associate Monsegur, and approached the FBI with the plan to entrap Assange. The charges against Thordarson were dropped.
Contact was made, it is alleged, and discussions took place over a two-week period. The FBI provided Monsegur with fake classified documents and map of the Iceland government’s computer network. It is said, Thordarson transmitted a photo of Assange from his his iPhone, to provide evidence that Assange was there on the planning.
Monsigur had earlier been arrested for Hacking in the United States and cooperated in the setting up traps for other hackers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland to escape charges. Julian Assange was another target on the list.
A further and unrelated allegation, is that Assange helped another hacker, Jeremy Hammond, to access a company called Strategic Forecasting. Hammond was arrested and got 10 years and is still in prison. He didn’t buy his freedom.
The purpose of these allegations is to enable the prosecutors to establish a pattern and link it directly to the core allegation, that Julian Assange assisted Chelsea Manning to hack and steal United States classified documents.
There is another similarity. Chelsea Manning was offered her freedom, in exchange for providing lying testimony against Assange. Chelsea refused to do this.
Given the incentive Thordarson and Monsigur have to lie, their evidence is should not be taken seriously.
This new twist in the sorry saga, exposes how desperate the United States is to get Julian Assange, and how weak the case prepared against him is. Why bring these allegation up now? They are supposed to date back to 2014.
Unfortunately, this does not mean it will get thrown out. The world has already witnessed the farce of the legal process for extradition, being carried out in the United Kingdom. A case presided over by a biased and strategically placed magistrate, disallowing a proper defense, breaking many of conventions normally associated with a fair trial – like denying proper access to legal counsel, open hostility towards the defendant, and much more.
The Guantanamo style tribunal planned in the United States, if the extradition attempt succeeds, will be a show trial for political purposes. No justice will be found there, and Julian Assange faces the prospect of 170 years imprisonment.
This is a good reason why world public opinion is so important. The Julian Assange case must be made politically too costly for the United States to continue with.