Friday, 15 March 2019 11:32

London cops shared WikiLeaks' staff info with US

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London cops shared WikiLeaks' staff info with US Supplied

London's Metropolitan Police has shared information about a number of journalists, working for whistleblower website WikiLeaks, with prosecutors in the US for at least four years.

The information was provided as the US Department of Justice conducted a secret probe into the editor and publisher of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.

A statement from WikiLeaks said the Met had confirmed the sharing of information with Washington since at least 2013. The staff whose information was shared included former investigations editor Sarah Harrison, editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and section editor Joseph Farrell.

The three journalists became aware in 2014 that an East Virginia court had ordered Google to provide their emails, contacts, log-in IP addresses and calendar entries to the US as part of an investigation into alleged violations of US Federal laws such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the US Espionage Act.

Assange's has been under investigation by the US ever since former US soldier Chelsea Manning leaked a cache of government material that was later published by WikiLeaks.

Manning, whose 35-year jail term, was commuted by former president Barack Obama, was arrested again last week when she refused to testify before a grand jury probe into WikiLeaks.

The role of the Met was exposed following a ruling by the information appeal tribunal in November which ordered the Met to confirm whether it was in possession of correspondence on the three WikiLeaks members.

The order was made in the wake of a legal challenge by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi who works for La Repubblica.

Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. His problems began when he visited Sweden in August 2010 to attend a conference where he was scheduled to give a talk. During that visit, he had sex with two women whom he met. The pair filed rape and molestation complaints against him later, claims that he denied.

He was questioned by Swedish authorities and cleared. He could have left the country then and there, but stayed for a while, in case the authorities decided to question him again.

Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest on 20 November 2010. On 27 November, Assange surrendered to authorities and appeared before a Westminster judge. He was granted bail in December after his backers provided £240,000 in cash and sureties.

A legal back and forth eventuated and went on until June 2012, when Swedish prosecutors sought his extradition.

Assange's lawyers, among them the world-renowned Australian Geoffrey Robertson, replied that if he agreed to the extradition request, then he could be flown to the US from there.

On 19 June 2012, he jumped bail and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, seeking asylum in the South American country. British police surrounded the building and blocked any chance of his leaving.

Ecuador granted him asylum in August 2012. He has had to stay inside the four walls of the embassy since then. He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship by a former president of the country, Rafael Correa.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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