Report: VA Grand Jury Investigating Julian Assange

Via CBS News, Mark Stephens, attorney for Wikileaks' Julian Assange, appears on David Frost's al Jazeera TV show and says they've received word a grand jury has been empaneled in Alexandria, VA to investigate criminal charges.

"We have heard from the Swedish authorities there has been a secretly empaneled grand jury in Alexandria...just over the river from Washington DC, next to the Pentagon," Stephens said. "They are currently investigating this, and indeed the Swedes we understand have said that if he comes to Sweden, they will defer their interest in him to the Americans. Now that shows some level of collusion and embarrassment, so it does seem to me what we have here is nothing more than holding charges...so ultimately they can get their mitts on him."

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    Could there be a few possibilities? (none / 0) (#1)
    by EL seattle on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 06:49:41 PM EST
    There are certainly some shoddy reasons that a grand jury would have for being interested in bringing Julian Assange stateside, but maybe there are some less-than-shoddy reasons, too.

    For instance, although Julian Assange isn't directly involved, couldn't there be criminal charges involved in the cyber attacks on the VISA, Amazon.com, etc. websites by the Organization called 'Annonymous' that were reportedly done in his behalf?  The way he's played things coy and clever so far, some folks might suspect that he knows more than he's said so far.  If there are possible criminal actions involved in the cyber attacks, I could understnd why a Grand Jury would be interested in talking to him about the matter.

    You don't know... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Romberry on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 09:26:35 PM EST
    ...anything about 4chan and anonymous, do ya? No, you can't reasonably charge Assange for the actions of anonymous.

    Bail (none / 0) (#3)
    by womanwarrior on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 09:39:06 PM EST
    H'mm, if there are no charges in Sweden, shouldn't a principled British Judge at least release Assange on bail?  The let the guy who is alleged to have killed his bride in South Africa out on bail. Are British judges really controlled by the US DOJ?

    Anthony Blair (none / 0) (#5)
    by Andreas on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 12:13:11 AM EST
    The war criminal Anthony Blair is still neither indicted nor arrested. That should tell you something about the state of the legal system in the United Kingdom.

    One Law... to Rule Them All. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 10:56:02 PM EST

    WSWS: Obama joins attack on WikiLeaks (none / 0) (#6)
    by Andreas on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 12:56:42 AM EST
    Obama joins attack on WikiLeaks
    By Joseph Kishore, 13 December 2010

    [I will no longer quote from WSWS articles here because Jeralyn will delete such comments.]

    one paragraph is okay (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 03:07:29 AM EST
    for the rest, you need to just provide the link. Thanks.

    I have an actual legal question... (none / 0) (#7)
    by EL seattle on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 01:55:04 AM EST
    Maybe someone can answer?

    If someone has a document in an encrypted file, and there is is a strong possibility that it contains evidence related to crime that is under investigation, can a judge issue a search warrant that would compel the owner/creator of that file to unpack it so that the court/prosecution/defense can determine whether or not the document concealed in the file contains information relevant to the case?  

    Obviously, this would be a mater that would in play for whatever WikiLeaks "Doomsday File" may (or may not) exist.  But I'd hate to think that a corporation like, um, well, say, Halliburton, could get away with stashing anything they want in 24-bit .rardotzipper files and not have to worry that no court of law could ever examine the material.  

    The direct answer is No. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Peter G on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 08:46:05 AM EST
    A search warrant can only be issued upon a showing to the judge, under oath, that there probable cause to believe that something, described with some specificity, that is legally subject to seizure will be found in the place to be searched (which must also be described with specificity) and the time the warrant is to be executed.  The categories of things subject to seizure are contraband, instrumentalities of crimes that have been or are being committed, evidence of a crime that has been or is being committed, and persons subject to arrest (or rescue, such as kidnap victims).  A search warrant does not compel a person to do or say anything, other than not to interfere or resist.  I have seen cases where the FBI, for example, executed a warrant to seize a computer and search it, identified files on the computer that appeared to be of interest, and then couldn't review them because of encryption they couldn't break.  To compel a person to answer questions (such as "what is the key to the encryption?") would require a grand jury subpoena, and the person asked the question would then presumably have a Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer.

    Thanks for the information. (none / 0) (#10)
    by EL seattle on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 10:42:59 AM EST
    I'd imagine that this sort of thing makes it difficult to investigate complicated white-collar crimes (similar to the Madoff deceptions) unless or until they eventually collapse under their own weight.