Brazil Charges Glenn Greenwald with Cybercrimes

Glenn Greenwald has been charged with cybercrimes in Brazil, stemming from publishing information and documents that were embarrassing to the government. The charges are that he actively helped the people who actually did the hacking:

Citing intercepted messages between Mr. Greenwald and the hackers, prosecutors say the journalist played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime.”

For instance, prosecutors contend that Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks.

Prosecutors also say that Mr. Greenwald was communicating with the hackers while they were actively monitoring private chats on Telegram, a messaging app. The complaint charged six other individuals, including four who were detained last year in connection with the cellphone hacking.

This isn’t new, or unique to Brazil. Last year, Julian Assange was charged by the US with doing essentially the same thing with Chelsea Manning:

The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.

During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”

Good commentary on the Assange case here.

It’s too early for any commentary on the Greenwald case. Lots of news articles are essentially saying the same thing. I’ll post more news when there is some.

EDITED TO ADD (2/12): Marcy Wheeler compares the Greenwald case with the Assange case.

Posted on January 21, 2020 at 3:23 PM63 Comments


Ross Snider January 21, 2020 3:54 PM

While I’m not a lawyer, these charges seem to me as a layman as very overly broad. As a (renowned) journalist, Greenwald has not done anything that any other journalism outfit regularly does to ensure the operational security of their sources.

The real difference here is that Greenwald worked with sources and to publish information controlled by the government of Brazil because its potential damaging affects, and so the interpretation of the law has been broadened in this indictment for those reasons, and kept narrow for reporting enjoyed by Brazil’s executive arm.

In “free and democratic society” it would seem to me that the regular methodologies and practices of journalism shouldn’t be subject to varying interpretation by governments, as this becomes a “legal” but still possibly oppressive form of censorship.

Bruce, it might also be good background for readers to explain the US Justice Department’s extralegal pressure on Greenwald including the scandal around their evaluated partnership with HB Gary Federal.

Giancarlo Razzolini January 21, 2020 4:32 PM

As a Brazilian, this isn’t surprising. We have been spiraling into chaos and the democratic institutions are in trouble. I suspect this indictment won’t hold into the higher courts, but it is a dangerous precedent to set. Anyone reading the transcription of Glenn’s conversation with one of the allegedly so called “hackers”, can see that he’s concerned first with the sources protection. But there are 3 things that are worth mentioning. The first one is that this indictment comes less than 12 hours after the central figure on the revelations from Glenn and The Intercept, former judge Moro, was interviewed by a biased group of journalists on one of Brazil’s most famous interview show called “Roda Viva”. Not a single journalist that participated in the disclosure of the misdeeds Moro did was present and, when asked about the revelations, he literally said they were gibberish. The second thing to not is that the prosecutor that presented the indictment, last year tried to indict the president of Brazil’s bar association because he publicly criticized Moro. Another thing is, that Brazil’s federal police had access to the same conversation and (rightfully) concluded Glenn didn’t do anything wrong. To make things even worse, there was an order from Brazil’s supreme court explicitly forbidding any investigation into Glenn for this reporting. This prosecutor simply indicted him without him even being investigated, at all. Hopefully this paints a clearer picture on what the situation here is.

Giancarlo Razzolini January 21, 2020 6:50 PM


You’ll be delighted to hear that Brazil has, even though we are among the countries that most kill LGBT people, laws that makes comments like yours a criminal offense. Ever since last year being a homophobic is a crime that’s comparable with racism on our entire national territory. Which is more than the US has.

You’ll also be delighted to hear that one of our justices from the supreme court already manifested in favor of Glenn. I expect this indictment to fall very soon.

So, happy living spreading your homophobic comments around. But don’t come to Brazil and spew them, because you might end up in jail. Peace.

Thoth January 21, 2020 7:34 PM

Regarding the report of how it happened:

“Prosecutors also say that Mr. Greenwald was communicating with the hackers while they were actively monitoring private chats on Telegram, a messaging app.”

Which means … the prosecutors/govts are the supposed hackers that pose as informants for baiting poor Greenwald as my guess.

Giancarlo Razzolini January 21, 2020 8:20 PM

@David Australia

The aledged “hackers” were using telegram. They accesses the telegram cloud of several authorities, because of a issue with a carrier allowing them to request a password reset for any phone number and since telegram is cloud, they would be able to download all the messages. Looks like they were able to access only for the users that didn’t had 2FA on telegram.

Glenn never commented on the source and how he communicated with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the initial contact was through telegram, and them they moved to something else. Not sure we’ll know soon.

AL January 21, 2020 9:14 PM

There are two distinguishable activities involved, one being stealing classified information, and the other, publishing such information.

In the case of Assange, under U.S. law or precedence (Pentagon papers), so long as the publisher only publishes and doesn’t involve himself in the stealing of the classified information, he has a defense. But in the case of Assange, if the government’s allegation is true, in offering to assist in crack a password, he involved himself in a conspiracy to steal the information, and left himself wide open.

In the case of Greenwald, don’t know what to say. There’s not enough information, and we’re not talking about U.S. law. But generally, I think publishing should be protected so long as the publisher separates himself from the stealing. Several publishers have set up a secure “dropbox” so that leakers can anonymously leak sensitive information. These dropboxes serve as a firewall between leaker and publisher. The Guardian, Washington Post, as well as the Intercept use these things, so the idea shouldn’t be lost on Greenwald.

65535 January 21, 2020 9:45 PM

Because I still constricted by time – fixing routers, computers and bad MS patches – I briefly looked over Greenwald’s rather long Exposé covering over 100 or many 100s of politicians, businessmen, six or more years of investigations, recordings and may countries playing the bribery game, I will have to defer I will have to defer to the experts on his blogs to make a legal determiniation.

I did take a quick look at Wikipedia’s article, and found about the same thing. The positive news is “experts” see Greenwald as being in legally correct – regardless of the Brazil police and prosecutors – which may help Greenwald.


“After Bolsonaro explicitly threatened to imprison Greenwald for this reporting,[104] Supreme Court justice Gilmar Mendes ruled that any investigation of Greenwald in connection with the reporting would be illegal under Brazilian constitution, calling freedom of the press a “pillar of democracy”.[105]

“Glenn Greenwald reported that the leaked file is bigger than the one in the Snowden case.[106][107] Fernando Haddad considered the leaks to have potential to become the “greatest institutional scandal in the history of the Brazilian republic”.[108][106]

“In response to the leaks, several top jurisprudence authorities and experts in Europe and the Americas, such as Susan Rose-Ackerman (praised by Car Wash prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol as the world’s top corruption expert), Bruce Ackerman, and Luigi Ferrajoli, voiced their shock at the conduct of the Brazilian authorities and described former President Lula as a political prisoner, calling for his release. [and hopefully Greenwald]”- wikipedia

But, this thing is far from oveer. I will return when time permits.

Clive Robinson January 22, 2020 2:52 AM

@ Bruce,

With regards Julian Assange, his treatment by the UK authorities is most definately not improving.

He is being held in a high security prison under what might be described as “Special Administrive Measures” whilst the UK Prosecution being clearly driven by “legal experts” from the US Embassy (with gun toting body guards causing issues) with the courts permision make the case against Assange way more complex than it has any reason to be.

The thing about it is that the Prison has effectively denied Assange the basic right to communicate with his legal team, except for about an hour shortly before his last court appearance.

This is what is known in the legal proffession as “Rights Stripping” and it always has only one purpose to ensure an unfair trial.

Curious January 22, 2020 3:42 AM

Re. that DoJ article. The article states:

“(…)to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.

How does it make sense to argue that somebody is “cracking a password stored”? Seems very clumsy, the way this is phrased. How does it make sense to talk about a ‘password’ being ‘stored’?

Can somebody tell me, what do they mean by writing that?

Could the DoJ be fishing, or abusing prosecutional powers by being vague and nonspecific?

Seems to me that they maybe don’t really know if they want to prosecute about there being a cracking of a password for an encrypted file, or if there was one or more login attempts to access or read documents behind a login/password wall.

wiredog January 22, 2020 6:34 AM

I’m guessing that English isn’t your first language. The indictment is talking about cracking a password which is stored on a computer.

Beobachter January 22, 2020 6:58 AM

I’m just a lurker normally, but I have been disappointed lately in the very noticeable lack of support for Julian Assange around here (with the always laudable exception of Clive, and a few others). This is in stark contrast to the “good old daze”, when this site was almost a hotbed of internet dissidents, before everyone became respectable corporate security consultants … Here’s hoping that Glenn doesn’t end up joining Julian in fascist hell, and that this serves as a wake up call, before it’s too late. Free Assange!

Clive Robinson January 22, 2020 8:49 AM

@ Curious, wiredog,

How does it make sense to argue that somebody is “cracking a password stored”?

From a technical perspective, it makes no sense at all as it is supposadly a “one way hash of a password” that is stored on thr computer.

It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last time the legal profession do a “lost in translation” on technical facts.

For instance I see a file as a “bag of bits” that is no more than a very very large integer, because computer hardware can only deal with individual bits or collections of bits as integers[1].

A lawyer however sees it as a “movie” and only as a “movie” even when it is encrypted in a way they have not a snow ball in hell’s chance of understanding (even though many appear to be denizens of the tenth level of Hades 😉

They lawyers actually have to jump through all sorts of mental hoops and loops to get their ideas to have any meaning, and even then it’s hazy at best and defies any kind of logic[2].

But then their whole lives are based around altering other peoples perception of reality to make a living out of them (kind of the definition of a con-artist as well as a lawyer). So your suspicion about ulterior motives may not be incorrect…

[1] Yup it’s true, you look in any ALU and you will only find Integer Arithmetic and Logical bit manipulations happen there. Even Floating Point Co-professors” do not see anything other than integers and bits. It’s the layers of software ontop that convert thr bits and integers into some other form of information that our brains then see imperfectly.

[2] Law in the west is based on the notion of owhership and the harms and benifits of such ownership. So if I were to present a lawyer with a string of bits, he will try and convince himself and others that it is a “unique physical object” so he can apply what he has been taught about individual property ownership to it. When you point out that due to encryption you can change that string to any other possible string, he will convince himself that it is still a unique piece of property that has been covered like a book might be. Even though you show him that some other unique string can be converted into the first unique string, he will remain convinced of what he sees as the original uniquness, even if you tell him it’s a number that cannot be owned he will attempt to find some way to turn it into property nomater how conveluted the argument…

Marcos January 22, 2020 8:58 AM

Well, I don’t think anybody got embarrassed by the messages…

But anyway, the Brazilian supreme court already said it views the prosecution as inconstitutional and won’t allow it. Balance of powers.

MarkH January 22, 2020 9:24 AM

@Curious et al.

Stored passwords have been cracked many, many times, as any InfoSec engineer knows well. It’s a classic hack, which is supposed to be rendered impractical by proper security practices … which of course doesn’t mean that it never works.

Whether Assange made such an offer of assistance to Manning, I don’t know. I think it plausible that he might have made such offer, even though the probability of success might have been low.

Personally, I think the charges against Assange are pretty weak. If he had better counsel, he might have handled matters more to his advantage.

gordo January 22, 2020 9:37 AM

Q & A.
By Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, January 22, 2020 8:23 A.M.

The case against you relies in part on the claim that you helped in “facilitating the commission of a crime.” Did you do anything to encourage the hacking of cell phones or other devices?

No. In fact, when the source first talked to me, he had already obtained all the material that he ended up providing us, making it logically impossible for me to have in any way participated in that act. And the federal police, just a few months ago, concluded that not only was there no evidence that I committed any crimes but much to the contrary, I conducted myself, in their words, with “extreme levels of professionalism and caution,” to make sure that I didn’t get ensnared in any criminal activity.

[. . .]

Do the federal prosecutors who charged you today answer more to the President than other branches of law enforcement?

I would say that the best way to understand who they are is that they are kind of equivalent to the Justice Department, and the federal police is equivalent to the F.B.I. It would be like if [the former F.B.I. director] Jim Comey stood in front of the cameras and said we were closing our investigation, there is no evidence of criminal activity, and then the Justice Department months later nonetheless indicted. So yes, they are part of the executive branch but are a little more independent, just like the Justice Department is. But the big difference is that unlike the Justice Department, which can just single-handedly indict you, these prosecutors can only issue charges that then have to be approved by a judge in order for you to actually become a criminal defendant.

Rj Brown January 22, 2020 10:25 AM

This is possibly off topic here, but I am curious. If the time was 2010, is it correct to refer to Manning in that time frame as “she”? IIRC Manning was a “he” at that point in time, and only later transformed into a “she”. Obviously Manning is a “she” at the present point in time (barring additional surgery), but at 2010, Manning was definately a “he”, so is it technically correct to retroactively apply the new pronoun to Manning when referring to Manning at the point in time of 2010?

MarkH January 22, 2020 11:15 AM

@Rj Brown:

Surely off topic, but I’ll try to enlighten. It’s typical for transgender people to have strongly felt their gender identity (as distinct from biological or assigned sex) from childhood.

So probably, Chelsea Manning knew herself as “she” throughout the span of time under discussion.

I won’t prescribe what is “correct,” but rather describe the reality I see: many choose to use gender-specific language retrospectively when speaking or writing about the history of a transgender person. Often this is an extension of courtesy or respect.

My own practice is to use terms according to presently expressed gender by default, but to use the old name and/or pronouns in some cases where I expect it would be confusing to do otherwise.

Alex January 22, 2020 11:19 AM

Assange, working with foreign intelligence, helped facilitate the extraction of information from the US government. There’s a reason many don’t support him, what he did was above and beyond what a journalist can do legally in most countries. He also worked to subvert U.S. elections by publishing known stolen data from the DNC. I support disclosure, but when it’s weaponized in this way it’s hard to argue that it’s for the benefit for the greater good.

Greenwald has an extremely strong track record of going after corruption, in this case it sounds like it’s fighting back.

It’s a struggle to see the analogy between the two.

Curious January 22, 2020 1:18 PM

@Clive Robinson

But, don’t you see it as a potentially damning issue, if the prosecution don’t know in the first place and thus won’t clarify, if they want to prosecute on the grounds of not knowing if somebody “cracked” a password on a file, OR, if they “cracked” a login session? And instead, they just prosecute on the idea that something was cracked maybe without knowing what?

I would think that is a big deal. Here is an exaggerated example of something “similar”: Imagine the prosecution charges somebody with murder, but they don’t know who the charged party is supposed to have murdered in the first place. I would say, that would be really weird as if they maybe prosecute in advance and hope that somebody confesses down the line, and everybody forgets about the details in the charges, or maybe the charges can be used as a pressure device to make new charges later on based on somebody’s confession to fill in the crucial details that should otherwise have been there in the first place in order to prosecute somebody for a crime.

SpaceLifeForm January 22, 2020 3:10 PM

@ Curious, Clive

Allegedly, the exchange between Manning and WL went as follows (paraphrasing):

Manning sends WL a SAM password hash.

It’s not clear if LM or NTLM hash.

WL says they could not crack it to obtain the plaintext password.

(So, it was probably not an LM hash)

Clive Robinson January 22, 2020 5:56 PM

@ Curious,

And instead, they just prosecute on the idea that something was cracked maybe without knowing what?

That in general is what the law actually does.

As I said earlier it’s about “property” and “harms” to that property. In civil law remediation is by monetary means, in criminal both loss of liberty and monetary fines are used.

The “method” of the offence only comes into it when trying to convince a jury.

That is you get convicted of the crime of “Burglary” not “Gaining access to a building by using a hammer and chisel on the lock of the kitchen door and then illegaly taking a television a decorative necklace made of semiprecious metals and stones and money from a jar”.

In the past crimes were deliberately of limited scope because it made deciding a transgression by logic easier. Now however law appears more about the “cult of personality” and who “can tell the better tale” thus legislation has moved that way by making the scope of new crimes so broad, you are probably guilt no matter what you did.

Where the blaim for this change arises from is a matter of debate, but penultimately it’s the legislators who put new legislation for consideration to becoming law by their peers. Thus you need to look at the drivers on politicians as the ultimate cause. In theory it’s “society” in practice it’s the “self apointed” and their self interests who claim to represent societies views, which they very rarely do.

The fact prosecutors decided to avail themselves of ambiguity in charging and indictments, detestable as it is, in no way supprises me. In fact it’s been going on in my certain knowledge for more than a quater of a century. All that has realy changed is ordinary individuals have noticed and become shocked by what they see as flagrant abuse of the legal process by such shysters and their pettifogging ways.

The US legal system is based on the old English system of law, that was derived from “trial by combat” and the later chainging as part of the “king game” to the appointment of “champions” to do the fighting.

Personally I would be more than interested to see a return to basics with prosecutors thrown in the gladiator pit to fight hand to hand to the death with those they seek to convict or the accused’s chosen champions, you never know it might liven up daytime television 😉

Beobachter January 22, 2020 7:51 PM


If by “working together with foreign intelligence” you mean that Assange and Wikileaks have many associates who are foreigners of high intellectual ability, I do agree with you! If on the other hand you’re insinuating that some nation’s spies were involved… got any proof?

As for the analogy between Glenn and Julian, since both men are dedicated to reporting what’s true, that is, they are actual journalists (a rare breed these days, that the powers that have Assange locked up hope to make extinct), it’s actually a struggle NOT to see the analogy between the two.

Clive Robinson January 22, 2020 7:59 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Curious,

WL says they could not crack it to obtain the plaintext password.

If that is the case it’s one of those “state of mind” arguments.

Thus did WL “solicit” the list?

And if WL did not… did WL on receiving it with a request from Manning to help crack it, actually make any attempt to “crack it” or just say “they could not” without actually trying?

But also is the issue of “anonymous communications” from what has been said apparently neither party actually identified themselves in the communications and the account used was in no way exclusive to any one individual in WL.

Further Chelsea Mannings previous testimony apparently makes clear that at the time it was only an assumption that communications was with JA.

Because Chelsea Manning won’t change the testomany previously given under oath, that twice now Chelsea has been incarcerated without due process on the whim of a judge, who has shown distinct prejudice. Thus it’s fairly clear it is a case of unjustified behaviour by the US system.

Look at it this way, if Chelsea makes changes to any sworn testimony then the question of significant imprisonment for perjury arises as does retrial. The fact that this is so obviously a setup for political reasons should give anyone pause for thought…

However if I remember correctly there is a potential fly in the ointment. Manning was I think betrayed by a third party individual with self deluding pretentions to journalism and ministry, who used those to pretend privileged communications were in place, which he would have known was not true. I think from memory he is now dead from self inflicted drug complications. This unfortunately gives prosecutors great scope to be inventive with “a dead mans words”. Which is a twist on Cardinal Richelieu’s maxim.

Curious January 23, 2020 4:07 AM

@Clive Robinson and everybody else

It seems to me that the concern I raised re. the prosecution being vauge and such, is lost on you here, or maybe isn’t interesting to you. Commenting on the law in general and saying things like “(…)you are probably guilt no matter what you did.” doesn’t seem relevant to they way I think the DoJ’s text is indicative of persecution but not prosecution, or at least isn’t poignant unless ofc you were to succumb to some kind of defeatism in this particular case ref. DoJ’s charging Julian Assange with crimes. Maybe you would be right in thinking that DoJ overall just get away with doing bad things, but I think such would trivialize my concerns here. Or.. do you think Assange has been found guilty in a US court in secret already? (feel free to answer this question in particular).

If somebody was charged with burglary, one would think the prosecution would have to plausibly argue that it was you that had in fact been stealing something at location X. I would think USA of all places wouldn’t want the state to be engaged in baseless prosecution (even thought it might be possible). Terrible if there is to be no line between baseless prosecution and persecution. If USA has ulterior motives of actually wanting to be able to prosecute anyone acting like a journalist that way (by persecution), such an angle would be interesting in and of itself, and not something to be ridiculed or trivialized I think.

Re. J. Assange, I found a DoJ release later than April 11. 2019, mentioning a “superseeding indictment”, dated May 23. 2019. The Guardian has an article dated May 2. 2019 about the start of the extradition case in London. OP linked to a DoJ release April 11. 2019. Presumably the maximum 5 jail sentence in April 11. statement is really bs, with superseeding indictment of May 23, having 18 counts, presumably much longer than 5 years, in the text presumably used for starting the extradition case. (May 23.) (May 2.)

Where are the original charges of April 11? I can’t find any online when searcing Am I to think that the DoJ statement of April 11. is the indictment of April 11 that the extradition cased was based on? If the initial indictment is anything like the DoJ press release of April 11. it seems obvious to me that US has started an extradition case, without really arguing for it, beyond mere insinuations as to the charges of conspiracy to hacking being relevant in the first place. A no “case”, that is ultimately void of meaning if one understand that a ‘case’ can’t be based on lies and that ‘a case’ has to have relevant facts and arguments insofar you associate X with a crime. There mere association of person X to a statement of crime Y, is intellecutally fraudulent if it started an extradition case that way.

The DoJ has the nerve to finish their April 11th press release by stating: “An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.” Past paragraph considered, this seems to be the same type bs like when that one Ukranian guy claimed to be dissenting inside the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2016, after the group as a whole had concluded that Assange had been arbitrarily detained. The man purported to be ‘dissenting’ had some 11 points iirc, which were all based on one thing that weren’t true, making all 11 of his points of dissenting moot. Still, the media just reported the dissent without looking at the text.

From reading the DoJ’s text of April 14, I got the impression that the prosecution doesn’t seem to know what was cracked, if anything at all (very important I would think). If wanting to prosecuting somebody only in the hopes of getting a confession or to intimidate or to threaten somebody, or to extradite someone(!), in a case that isn’t so much ‘a case’ or ‘a case for prosecution’, as it would be a desire for persecution, is just wrong. Seems fairly clear to me that DoJ has had lots of time to investigate and prosecute before April 11. 2019 (DoJ’s announcement). I wonder if DoJ intended all along to prosecute both Manning and Julian Assange, after already prosecuting and sentencing Manning the first way around, perhaps another ill conceived way of prosecuting people, haven’t thought more on that myself. So, from the DoJ statement, the purported crimes appear to be: “hacking” in headline but described as “cracking” in text, and also ‘conspiracy’ in both the headline and the text. Presumably ‘conspiracy’ must entail a conspiracy to commit a crime. But, on second though, in a way it makes sense that they in the text have formally tried to argue for Assange having “actively encouraged Manning”, otherwise ‘conspiracy’ couldn’t be made a specific crime in the first place re. Julian Assange.

Although the DoJ press release of April 11. 2019 has a paragraph starting with “During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange.”. In a literary sense, this sentence can be interpreted as being merely suggestive they way this sentence is written, as if they erroneously claimed as a fact that there had been a conspiracy (but only suggested), as oppsosed to actually arguing, at that point, that there is or must have been a conspiracy for reasons. So by referring to Assange talking to Manning, there is this allusion on part of the DoJ as a form of rhetoric to suggest guilt unfairly to dumb readers, or worse, ill willed US/UK authorities, or, act as wishful thinking on part of the prosecution with this form of wording, that this really has to be a conspiracy because Manning talked to Assange. I would say this little detail in the DoJ text is a big deal and in the same paragraph they refer to a what sounds like a quip: “curious eyes never run dry in my experience” (unknown if quoted properly, maybe indicative of lazy non-capital first letter in chats). Such a quip obviously isn’t what one would understand as ‘actively encouraging’ or is hardly something ‘encouraging’, if at all, despite DoJ having claimed it to mean “actively encouraging Manning” something might otherwise amount to a conspiracy to commit a crime as such, or anything said might as well be construed as encouraging and “a conspiracy” by mere association. Instead of making a real argument, DoJ is merely insinuating the conspiracy part, both in headline, and in the text. Mark my words: If DoJ in this statement conclude that JA was actively encouraging Manning, they basically lie, in liue of the statement at the end, where: “Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.” Thus, either DoJ would lie in making the argument, or, they lie about people being innocent until proven guilty in court. One might wonder if Assange already has been found guilty in a US court in secret, but that also, would go againt DoJ statement about innocence in the sense of that particular statement being particularily irrelevant, becuase Assange would then no longer be a “defendant”, just somebody to be extradition on 100% US terms (if they improperly asked for an extradition case).

I guess US authorities could have some internal record indicating illicit or unauthorized password logins on secure computer systems, or maybe they don’t, it seems to me they maybe don’t know if anything was hacked/cracked. If the prosecution couldn’t even know if somebody did a specific crime in the first place, it seems very wrong to just charge somebody anyway for such a purported crime that way (a so called “hacking conspiracy”). This type of issue seem maybe different than what Manning was convicted of previously, as if alluding to there being a link to the very specific charges Manning was found guilty of, but then speculatively and maybe irrespective of Assange having anything to do with it.

What’s next, charging nameless people (don’t know who done it), and being super vague about it (don’t know much about what happened if anything, or just blame somebody for something else)?
Imagine if DoJ had finished off their statement by writing: We basically have the right to charge and sentence innocent people, based on nothing but ill will.

I guess I should probably have said something about Glenn Greenwald, but I haven’t gotten around to that.

Curious January 23, 2020 5:23 AM


I wish you had followed an advice I belive George Orwell pointed out in an essay: Instead of writing something controversial like if something sounds conclusive or something that must be obvious, considerations and claims is imo more interesting to read if you simply start with “I think”. These sentcences of yours seem to make your opinion indistinguishable from any argument. I mean, a hundred people could keep on writing the very same thing you wrote here and there, over and over again, and I would still not be able to learn how you even think these things or even what your points would mean.

I know neither JA, nor anyone at WL, and I don’t, or can’t, profess anyone I don’t know as being guilty of a crime or not. I just don’t like big governments apparently screwing people over, making supporting JA/WL an easy thing for me. It looks like norway, Sweden, UK and US are, or have been screwing him over. UK with imo intellecutally fraudulent high court verdics in two instances, norway with mass media previously insulting his character as a sane human being (heavily alluding to him being mentally ill iirc), Sweden by insisting on persecuting Assange instead of prosecuting and of US that ignores UN working group’s work on arbitrary detention, and apparently threatens whistleblowers and JA with ill will and also alluding to fascist notions of probably cooperating with state “enemies”. Two apparent quotations seem relevant to sketch up the policitcal climate: By a US president: “(…)either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”, and the afaik uncontested claim of a certain individual in the US state dept. reportedly having said “Can’t we just drone this guy?”.

Some time back, I remember JA/Wikileaks having this idea of publishing things that other media wouldn’t or couldn’t publich, and I remember liking that idea. I think one can easily imagine how one somebody like Wikileaks and Assange becomes categorically unpopular in the press when confronting state actors, I guess it is as if the media was used to more or less constructive criticism vs state, as opposed to damning information on a massive scale or information relating to state secrets.

I think, the case for having state secrets, simply cannot be made to be an absolute, which I think is a reason why there would be this contention between the press and the government. Whether or not countries foreign to US are directly involved in anything Wikileaks works with, I wouldn’t know either way.

Clive Robinson January 23, 2020 10:16 AM

@ Curious,

It seems to me that the concern I raised re. the prosecution being vauge and such, is lost on you here, or maybe isn’t interesting to you.

For me at least you are wrong on both counts.

However people need to understand how we got where we are, and just how deliberately the whole legal system has been perverted to the advantage of some. This particular case is just one of many but what makes it different is just that it’s more naked to the viewer.

Thus what you call “persecution” is going on all the time in the US judicial system. I’ve mentioned before Chicago’s “black site” where vulnerable people were held totally illegaly. The US MSM like nearly all of Chicago’s politicians knew exactly what was going on but because it only effected “the black, poor and homeless” none of them cared one jot, unless it was how they were going to profit by it. The story was broken by a UK newspaper “The Guardian” before it went under the current editor to “Establisment Friendly”.

It’s obvious that you’ve not seen the underside of the US justice system close up or afar, because if you had none of this would be a supprise to you.

It basically works on the process of who is the least work to scare into a plee deal. If they don’t cop to it then ramp it up untill they do or they kill themselves or they are bankrupt and can nolonger defend themselves in court. Shove them in jail to someones great profit so the kickbacks still come, and move onto the next case quick.

The whole bloody system is one of persecution from the begining to the end, and it’s all based not on justice but cutting costs thus corners and getting the maximum number of bodies in jail so that politicians can say the’ve “been tough on crime” for their electionering.

Get that into your head and start again.

SpaceLifeForm January 23, 2020 3:27 PM

@ Curious, Clive

Allegedly, the exchange between Manning and WL went as follows (paraphrasing):

Manning sends WL a SAM password hash.

It’s not clear if LM or NTLM hash.

WL says they could not crack it to obtain the plaintext password.

(So, it was probably not an LM hash)


Note I said allegedly.

There is zero proof that the alleged comm was actually secure, and certainly no evidence of any signing that would lead to authentication of the alleged participants.

When I said it was probably not an LM hash, well, consider that, it may not have been an NTLM hash either.

Because the comm channel was not truly secure, a double MITM could have inserted the alleged messages into the convo. To be collected up high, but not visible on each end via filtering.

But, since not signed, who knows if they are fake or not?

gordo January 23, 2020 6:06 PM

WikiLeaks Editor: US Is Saying First Amendment Doesn’t Apply To Foreigners In Assange Case
Caitlin Johnstone, January 23, 2020

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson gave a brief statement to the press after the latest court hearing for Julian Assange’s extradition case in London today, saying the Trump administration is arguing that the First Amendment of the US Constitution doesn’t provide press freedom protection to foreign nationals like Assange.

“We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to this court that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a First Amendment protection,” Hrafnsson said.

“Now let that sink in for a second,” Hrafnsson continued. “At the same time that the US government is chasing journalists all over the world, they claim they have extra-territorial reach, they have decided that all foreign journalists which include many of you here, have no protection under the First Amendment of the United States. So that goes to show the gravity of this case. This is not about Julian Assange, it’s about press freedom.”

See also:

Assange may not get US press protection
3:33AM JANUARY 24, 2020

Clive Robinson January 23, 2020 6:53 PM

@ gordo,

US Is Saying First Amendment Doesn’t Apply To Foreigners In Assange Case

Well colour me unsurprised…

This by the way is not realy about Journalism or Julian Assange, they are just the excuse to escalate a policy that has been running in the US for some time now.

The US legislature was getting out of hand long before this claiming it had “extra jurisdictional” power over first US citizens and later foreign citizens (remember the imprisoning of a non US citizen in Canada for allegedly breaking US whims ‘ie non UN approved sanctions’?)

Now the US Executive are claiming that individuals do not have equity under their law…

That is the US executive is claiming US citizens have rights over all others in the world as far as their self proclaimed “global judicial” system is concerned.

Follow the logic through,

After all if the US claims non US citizens do not have the same rights in their legal system, what happens if some other Nation state decides to follow the sane reasoning and say US Citizens have no rights at all under their extra jurisdictional law?

Say for arguments sake the right to life… Then killing US citizens on mass any where becomes perfectly legal for any of their citizens…

Personally I don’t think US citizens upon reflection would want the US executive taking a stance that will put a big set of cross hairs on every US citizens back without exception…

In effect this is the appalling Sir Daniel Bethlehem doctorine (totaly deranged legal reasoning akin to that of a serial killer to give Blair and Bush free reign to attack Iraq or justify any other illegal act) taken from the specific to the general.

gordo January 23, 2020 7:40 PM

My question is whether Mr. Assange can be extradited on only the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge, i.e., separate from the 17 espionage charges.

Clive Robinson January 23, 2020 9:25 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Curious,

Because the comm channel was not truly secure, a double MITM could have inserted the alleged messages into the convo.

The first analysis problem we have is lack of information in the public domain…

But a third party attack on the communications is one of the things I considered. Because it’s an old and historically well known tactic, going back to the Venetian Black Chamber (Geheim Kabinets-Kanzlei) in the 1600’s if not before, and through[1] to modern times.

As I said from what I can tell neither Chelsea Manning or the respondant from Wikileaks on what was a general use account at ever identified themselves to each other.

That is Chelsea Manning assumed it was Julian Assange but had no way to know. As we likewise have no knowledge of whom the respondent was at any given time, we can only guess at what they did or did not know.

Further, as I said with regards the hashed password list, if no one at Wikileaks requested it, that is Chelsea Manning sent it unsolisceted or unknowing of who it was being received by. Then it would be difficult to say that Wikileakes or any individual there was involved in a colusion at that point in time.

Especially as there is apparently no evidence Wikileaks ever received it by verifiable act or deed. Because from what has been said this entire conversation was allegedly found on the hard drive of Chealsea manning’s computer after the disk had been zeroed out and the OS re-installed…

If the unknown to us and Chealea Manning, respondant said they could not help that is open to considerable interpretation, especially as we do not know what was actually said[2]. Thus it could be,

1, A simple statment in effect saying politely the respondant is not even going to look at it.

2, Or that the respondant did not have the tools or the personal to do it.

3, Or the respondant tried and failed for some reason.

If we then assume that in fact the respondant at the time was not from Wikileaks at all, but some third party in the middle such as a US Government agent, if the list was sent unsoliscited the response makes a whole lot more sense. After all if you are an agent trying to work a sting, by inserting/deleating/modifying traffic in an unauthenticated communications channel, you don’t actually want the target to get the keys to the trove, as it runs into all sorts of legal complications. But also you don’t want to fall into a trap of being “tested” and failing because your cover would be blown.

Of course there are other possabilities such that nothing was actually recovered from Chelsea Manning’s computer or at best just fragments. Thus the alleged conversation has been aquired or manufactured in some other manner and made available to be “found” on the computer in the best traditions of parallel construction. Of which no doubt you can think of several potential sources and methods.

The simple fact is that Juilan Assange is to all intents and purposes to far removed from this “conversation” to be linked to it even circumstantialy[1]. Hence the real need to fource Chelsea Manning to change the sworn testimony already given, and if that fails which it looks like it will…

Thus the real question is when they get Julian Assange to the US what are they actually going to do with him?

Thus the supposed striping of the first ammedment right appears to be the only way open to them currently. The fact it will have catastrophic knock on effects does not matter to the sociopaths in the DoJ, FBI and Executive.

The fact we now have incharge of the executive in the UK a New York born individual with the same sociopathic and other tendencies does not bode at all well for either due process or justice.

As the UK has already effectively illegaly severed julian Assange from counsel, I suspect the next step will be to find some way to disbar Julian Assanges legal representatives and asign him some one who will be incapable of serving Julian Assanges best interests or any of his interests for that matter at trial. After all the person in charge of the court is more than happy to see all those US representatives from the Embassy and their armed body guards running around blatently advising the prosecution and has in fact been highly indulgant of that process. However “anything but” for defence they get stomped upon. Thus to say it’s turned into a show trial would be an understatment, a dog and pony circus show would be closser, though I think “Pony” is the wrong breed of equine in this case Equus Asinus might be more appropriate.

[1] During WWI the technique was used with limited success on field telephones and in WWII aircraft radio especially that controling fighter aircraft by voice and bombers by “beam”. In all cases the legitimate parties had no means of authenticating to each other. Thus others could issue what appeared to be valid commands. In WWII for various technical reasons the ground controler could not hear what the pilot did, thus with any third party interference confussion would quickly develop and the pilots response would be rendered ineffective at best. The Germans tried various techniques to try to authenticate the ground controler, to night fighter pilots but the work factor for the allies was so small that confussion was more often the case than not. Especially when Hermann Göring himself, personaly took to the airwaves as the ground controller to try to sort it out. In the case of the radio beams the pilots would get a tone to early and thus drop their bombs well off target.

[2] The fact the Obama who also had a seriois hard on for whistleblowers and journalists, thus, Julian Assange whilst running the executive was not unknown. The fact the Executive looked at this evidence for months and decided eventually it could not work in a court no matter how they spun it, suggests that it is very far from being a gun, let alone a smoking one.

Clive Robinson January 24, 2020 6:55 AM

@ gordo,


blockquote>My question is whether Mr. Assange can be extradited on only the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge, i.e., separate from the 17 espionage charges.

I doubt there is the evidence to extradite on the conspiracy charge.

But that is realy not the point, various people have made their minds up that Julian Assange must be destroyed on way or another, because he is an embarrassment that will not die or go away.

You need to get inside these peoples heads to see what is going to happen to Julian Assange, because it is going to cost every US citizen.

Two US Presidents have taken the publication of the documents supplied by Chelsea Manning to Wikileaks personally. The fact that the first not only failed to bring Julian Assange to Washington in chains, as an example to others of US power, and secondly coummuted what many in the first administration saw as an already to soft sentance on Chelsea Manning made it all so much worse. In their eyes the US had been not just embarrassed, but had been made to look impotent and humiliated by one individual. So there is a lot of hate, bile and wrath directed against that one individual. Julian Assange is the mouse that dared squeak and the elephant failed to crush it for it’s impertinence. Thus the job still has to be done to remove the stain…

The fact that the first President failed and the second is determined to wreak, belittle or in other way destroy the firsts standing or reputation, is the real issue behind this. Trump is determined to do what Obama could not as part of this, to wipe Obama from the history books or have him portraid as a failure if not traitor to the US nation.

Any sensible Incoming President would have looked at the Wikileaks issue realised it’s realy a no-win situation and found the best way of kicking it into the long grass as being what it had actually become a minor inconvenience that was not reflecting well on the nation and the soonest forgot, the soonest mended. This is because a good leader knows that not every fight can be won, the trick is to save your resources to win the right fights so you win the battles that win the war or enable you to make peace at minimum cost. It’s not heroic but stoic and it’s what reduces “lost opportunity cost” for the economy thus the citizens.

But in Trump’s view Obama was a failure and could not be “the most powerfull man in the World” thus he believes that Obama has sullied the image of the US and the slate needs to be cleaned no matter what the cost. As Julian Assange stood up to Obama and in Trumps eyes beat him, Trump goaded by many others has transfered that onto Julian Assange. Thus Trump sees he has something to prove something to gain, that he is now and always will be the better man than Obama, thus Julian Assange is standing in the way of this. So like so many others in both administrations have, he’s wrapped himself in the flag over this one and in the process painted himself into a corner. Thus to Trump to fail in this is not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.

Due to the way extradition law is, at the end of the day it becomes a political decision and a minister of state will have to make a choice.

The UK is in a very awkward place, in ten days it will leave the EU which no matter what people say was a defacto super power. The UK will leave with nothing but debt and hostility, thus it needs friends and another super power to run with. Julian Assange has thus become a barganing chip for the UK with the US. The current UK administrarion or certainly it’s leader would like the UK not to be independent but a new US State and will settle for in all but name.

Thus the odds of Julian Assange staying in the UK are in reality going to be based on US politics in the near future. The UK will try to hang onto him as long as he has value whilst appearing to the Current US administration of doing all they can to get rid of him. But at some point Julian Assange will lose value for the UK thus they will under the current UK administration get rid of him. Thus they in effect have two choices,

1, extradite to the US
2, repatriate to Australia.

With the way Australia has behaved in all of this the second will be effectively the same as the first.

Unless of course the US get someone a little smarter into the top job. That is realise that the cost of persuing one man that is now most likely to be into the trillion dollar mark by then is realy not at all worth it. Especially now the rest of the world is getting a view via the likes of the UN just what is happening and what that is costing the US in reputation.

The smart thing would be for who ever replaces Trump in the future is to turn Trump into a “political aberration” that should not have happened, and make the pretence of a “Task of Hercules” to clear up the Augean Stables mess that will be left behind.

MarkH January 24, 2020 9:34 AM

@gordo, Clive:

In principle, the law governing whether Mr Assange will be extradited is UK law … it will be UK courts making this decision, and, within limits, the UK Secretary of State.

If every opportunity for appeal is exercised, the process could perhaps take many months.

Of course, as Clive observes, politics will weigh heavily. As the saying goes about courtrooms, when politics walks through the door, justice flies out the window.

The “gift” of Brexit will keep giving for quite a long time.

I don’t know whether the U.S. extradition request is publicly available.

I think it practically certain that the request includes all of the counts in the indictment, because under Article 18 of the governing treaty, the “Rule of Specialty” excludes (in somewhat ambiguous language) charges other than those in the extradition request.

It seems possible that the UK could grant extradition on only part of the charges in the request. From Article 13: “if the request is denied in whole or in part” seems to imply that the UK could grant extradition selectively.

If I were counsel for Mr Assange, I would investigate the possibilities for waiving extradition. The U.S. now has a President and Attorney General operating at levels of corruption more usual for Moscow, and that President knows that Assange assisted his election.

A year from now, a less friendly reception might await him …

gordo January 24, 2020 12:06 PM


From Article 13: “if the request is denied in whole or in part” seems to imply that the UK could grant extradition selectively.

I think you’re correct with that[1]. I imagine that it provides both sides with room for dealmaking and playmaking e.g., saving face; virtue signalling; changing the focus, etc. (deny, deflect, degrade; etc.).

Assange assisted his election

Along with Cambridge Analytica (Facebook), Comey (email server), Clinton (not campaigning in key, Midwestern states), MorningJoe (phone calls with The Donald every morning), etc.

The President has no further use for Assange/WikiLeaks (served their purpose/great for throwaway lines at rallies). They’ve already been thrown under the bus.

@Clive Robinson

I doubt there is the evidence to extradite on the conspiracy charge.

According to this explainer from the BBC[2], the evidence threshold is relatively low:

The US does not need to provide all the evidence in a case, as if the allegations were being tested in a full trial by British judges.

What this comes down to is proving to the courts that there is reasonable suspicion – essentially the hurdle police need to jump to justify an arrest – but obviously short of what is necessary to get a conviction.



Sancho_P January 24, 2020 12:25 PM

@gordo re First Amendment

I do not believe in any natural (like “God given”) rights: There is no one to enforce such “rights”.
However, here I’m with Pompeo, basically saying:
Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he isn’t subject to US rights, laws and punishment!

Btw. I don’t like the distinction between “journalists” and “ordinary people”, aka journalistic hypocrisy.

Sancho_P January 24, 2020 12:31 PM

@gordo, Clive Robinson, MarkH re extradition to the USA

It’s a difference to hack Mary-Ann or the DoD.
Even this charge would suffice, but don’t forget the 17 others!
Problem here: The decision is made up upon the charges –
and the direction of extradition.
E.g. see:

Yes, both, J.A. and G.G. are seen as “against authority”, absolutely no powers can condone that.

gordo January 24, 2020 1:32 PM


Yeah, religious ideals have long been held in the Republic. Most of the early colonies were of a religious constitution of one sort or another. In some ways freedom of religion was (my) freedom from (your) religion. Eventually interstate commerce took over and religion (Christian factionalism) began it’s slow descent or remove from the public square. There are voting blocs still to be had, but as most presidents in our lifetimes have proved, aspirationally, a couple of core issues go a long way toward achieving electoral success.

SpaceLifeForm January 24, 2020 3:07 PM

@ Clive

But also you don’t want to fall into a trap of being “tested” and failing because your cover would be blown.

I think that is point 4. And reality of what happened.

Whilst I said, I did not think it was an LM hash, and maybe not an NTLM hash either, I actually believe it was pure random garbage.

And, after being intercepted, it was leaked to another party, which was detected via SIGINT.

There are problems inside [TLA REDACTED].

Clive Robinson January 24, 2020 3:14 PM

@ Sancho_P,

However, here I’m with Pompeo, basically saying:
Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he isn’t subject to US rights, laws and punishment!

One of the fundemental rules of old English law, which US law is based on is,

    All stand equally under the law.

If you look at old English common law, “God” does not come into it, those handing out justice thus protecting your rights are,

    Twelve good men and true.

That is the jury is of your peers, and you all stand equally under the law.

So if the US are claiming as they are that Julian Assange whilst outside of any US territory “stands under US Law”… That is the US claiming extra-jurisdictional law, which is dubious at the best of times but carries responsabilities with it (it’s why extradition treaties usually have all sorts of limitations in them, particularly about what sort of crime is covered and where a crime was committed etc).

The US can not claim as they currently are you have liability under US law but have no defence under US law, it’s a nonsense under internationally agreed norms.

So either the law applies equally or it is despotic tyranny.

To believe otherwise invites your own involentary servitude to the capricious whims of a foreign power without defence or recourse.

Which could be regarded as a form of “first strike” act of war[0].

Which brings up another idiocy under the Sir Daniel Bethlehem KCMG QC “self defence” doctorine that Israel, the US and UK use, to justify all sorts of atrocities, you could legaly kill any US FBI or DoJ person claiming you had reason to believe “Imminent Threat” from them[1]. Because Sir Daniel’s legal reasoning does not define either “Imminent” or “Threat” in the way you would expect from either a dictionary or common usage.

[0] A war being something we have just avoided by the good graces and rational behaviour of Iranian leaders…

[1] Mike Pompeo invoked the Sir Daniel’s “Imminent Threat” doctorine for the compleatly unwaranted assasanation of Iranian General Soleimani, who was in Iraq not as a General but as an accredited diplomat on a peace mission (something the US MSM neglect to mention)…,

But then Mike Pompeo appears to have many traits of a religious loonie,

Of exactly the same type as Brazilian Right-Wing leader Jair Messias Bolsonaro who is in effect persecuting Glenn Greenwald. Both Pompeo and Bolsonaro believe strongly in “the rapture” which according to the bible can not happen untill Iran falls and Palastinian peoples are reunited… Thus they have effectively enslaved themselves to Israel, which is not something you want in a politician in any other country.

SpaceLifeForm January 24, 2020 5:11 PM

@ Clive

year from now, a less friendly reception might await him …

[If he lives]

Thus the real question is when they get Julian Assange to the US what are they actually going to do with him?

They don’t want him in US at this time.

They want a bogeyman.

But, remember, insurance keys are out there somewhere.

Sancho_P January 24, 2020 5:27 PM

@gordo, Clive Robinson

To be clear: I do not endorse Pompeo’s crude thinking at all.
But I support his stance of J.A. not being a US citizen (= no F.A. right), which automatically implies no US laws + punishment.
It’s UK (location of misdeed [?]) or Australia (nationality) what matters.

SpaceLifeForm January 24, 2020 5:38 PM

A determined cow will always try to break down a fence. Mind your fences.

(lost source)

Clive Robinson January 24, 2020 5:53 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Gonna have to go for a “twofer”,

I think that is point 4. And reality of what happened.

Kind of the first three apply equally to both a Wikileaks person and an agent, the fourth realy the agent only.

I guess the next logical question is if an agent was Mitmering the comms, would be “By how much?”

As the comms were neither authenticated or real time, and as far as I’m aware not “armoured” in any way, the scope available to an agent would be large.

Thus it is possible for a message from Wikileaks to have a “solicitation” for the password file added as a one liner. Likewise the Chelsea Manning reply could have it edited out entirely.

The result being Wikileaks never being aware of the password file, and Chealsea Manning assuming that wikileaks did know all about it.

Thus for an agent and their employer a very usefull confusion that neither Wikileaks or Chealsea Manning would be aware of untill the employer revealed it…

They want a bogeyman.

Possibly, but he’s no good to them “dead” which is what the UK authorities are apparently trying to make him.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons January 24, 2020 6:26 PM

Is there anyone that believes, or more accurately has come to a conclusive and decisive understanding, that the individual Julian Assange, will be treated to a judicial proceeding that is not a mockery? Come on, the current and previous two administrations and other officials openly called for the assassination of Mr. Assange. No due process, no hearing of the facts, just a cold determination that shows how the shallows of the swamp operate. Why isn’t he a target for a drone strike? Oh, I get it–the optics. Fascist are such cowards, hiding behind a drone aircraft and yanking on their joy-stick.

You would think the opportunity to engage the “thief-of-state-secrets” as he is made out to be, would be of great interest as opposed to political revenge under the guise of a judicial prosecution for espionage. No, there is no possibility to learn anything from Assange’s conduct even though his criminality is limited to conveying truth about power. The criminals, capital in nature, remain free and unfettered by the constraints of law or justice. Persecution and prosecution of the messenger is classic tyrannical posturing–slouched and feeble.

Instead of quashing this person in a dark corner of never-land, maybe the wizards of Oz could find the courage to christen a new vessel of truth. But we all know how unlikely that is to occur. The frustration, resentment, and hostility that grows from within will not be quieted by malfeasance and further criminality. A permanent scare on the psyche has formed, a hardness tempered by ignorance, fear, uncertainty, and doubt (iFUD).

It is time to put down the legal trope of primacy, righteousness, and self-assuredness and entertain a dramatic engagement with the spirit and color of our best legal pronouncements and findings. But we will fail, law be but the instrument of bastards and scoundrels? This story plays out in many ways in courtrooms across the country. The notion that the “rule of law” and accordance to the sentiments of fair and open procedures is just that, a notion. Experience with supposedly open governance is a reflection of a source of the greater malaise in our justice system, a mirror that reflects nothing of value.

gordo January 24, 2020 6:41 PM

@ Sancho_P,

I do not believe in any natural (like “God given”) rights: There is no one to enforce such “rights”.

I was responding to that part of your comment with a background link on Jefferson’s beliefs regarding natural law then followed with a remark about how current politicians use “core” religious issues to attract voters in the service of other, so-called religious agendas. I don’t really want to go much further with that. It’s a mess. I should have been more clear.

However, here I’m with Pompeo, basically saying:
Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he isn’t subject to US rights, laws and punishment!

I thought that was humorous 🙂

gordo January 25, 2020 6:45 AM

Glenn Greenwald: ‘Does the Law in Brazil Even Matter Anymore?’
The award-winning Intercept reporter talks about charges filed against him by Brazil’s right-wing government

Before publication, the anonymous hacker source asked Greenwald if records of contacts with The Intercept should be destroyed. Greenwald replied, carefully, that by law he could not advise the source one way or another. This non-act is at the heart of the case against him, says Greenwald.

“They’re calling that implicit encouragement to destroy evidence,” he says.

Although the case sounds like a legal absurdity, Greenwald is aware that might not be much of a consolation. “There’s a question: Does the law even matter in Brazil anymore?” he asks, in a fatalistic voice.

Clive Robinson January 25, 2020 7:14 AM

@ gordo,

Glenn Greenwald: ‘Does the Law in Brazil Even Matter Anymore?’

I would have thought that to be either “painfully obvious” or a “rhetorical question” depending on your view point, they are much the same (much like do you drinking tea or coffee in the morning, both are hot, wet, brown and contain caffeine).

I guess the real question should be,

    Where does the law even matter any more?

I’m guessing the answer should be at the very least “Not in WASP/5eye nations any more”, or “Anywhere politicians think they are above it”. Both of which are fairly depressing but near enough true, especially when both are coincident.

gordo January 25, 2020 9:53 AM

@ Clive Robinson,

“Anywhere politicians think they are above it”.

Hopefully not too flippant with this, but it’s just another vantage point from which to observe the rot, the corruption, the party spirit (puns intended),

The above link was sourced from:

And the phrase below can be recontextualized to characterize the staying power of the military industrial complex:

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao Zedong

SpaceLifeForm January 25, 2020 1:35 PM

@ name....

Well said.

But, whilst I can conclude that there are definitely problems in four well-known TLAs, I believe there are cointel investigations going on inside all 4.

See my ‘point 4’ above.

Until any TLA proves their worth, none can be trusted.

But, I really believe there are numerous cointel investigations in progress.

Must be patient, and let the process play out. Yep, it’s frustrating.

SpaceLifeForm January 25, 2020 1:54 PM

@ gordo

“Before publication, the anonymous hacker source asked Greenwald if records of contacts with The Intercept should be destroyed. Greenwald replied, carefully, that by law he could not advise the source one way or another. This non-act is at the heart of the case against him, says Greenwald.”

Some thoughts…

No way to know if the ‘anonymous hacker’ was really anonymous.

Maybe, there was too much bi-directional comms.

Maybe, if someone has a dump to leak, they only dump once, and no further comms.

Maybe, GG could have just not responded at all to the question.

So, maybe it was a setup.

Clive Robinson January 25, 2020 2:23 PM


<><>”Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”</></>

Yehh well remember that Mao Zedong was even less desirable[1] than most liers.

His definition of “Political power” was what the rest of us would call “brutal oppression”.

The only reason Mao was in power was because of communist Korean fighters (KVA/Yan’an) and supplies comming to his assistance. Because the Korean’s were hardend from fighting the Japanese, they knew what they were doing thus enabled them to fight off Chiang Kai-shek’s[2] superior numbers but ineptly led Nationalist forces.

Which is one of the less known reasons why China became involved in the Korean War, even though they were at one of the lowest economically since the end of the Chinese Revolution in 49.

[1] To put it bluntly he was effectively a serial rapist of young Chinese girls.

[2] Chiang Kai-shek was never a good leader, his belief in personal loyalty led to a paternalistic nepotism that was via a Buddhist view of “family” resulted in massive levels of coruption in his organisations. It was this that caused the resentment amongst the agrarian classes that the communists exploited. Whilst Chiang made vague protestations about nationalist reform, the communists on the ground delivered against the fudal warlords, land holders and Japanese.

gordo January 25, 2020 4:12 PM

@ Clive Robinson,

Whaboutism leads nowhere. The political power of the MIC grows out of the barrel of a gun.

MarkH January 25, 2020 5:00 PM

Hand-Wringing, my Friends?

My brother hews to certain attitudes about the world, which he would tell you that are conclusions based on facts and logic. However, they are actually faith commitments. There is no even hypothetically possible evidence, which would change them.

Years ago, over a period of several months I kept turning over in my mind “how can someone so knowledgeable and intelligent come to cling desperately to beliefs which could so quickly and easily be falsified?”

I did my best, to understand what cognitive processes were at work. One of my conclusions (based on many statements I had heard) is that he applies what I’ll call the Law of Perfection:

All Imperfect Things Are Equally Bad

In considering the rule of law, I suppose that every one of us is disappointed and worried about how liberal democracies are functioning.

Perhaps not even one of them, is holding to the standards we would wish.

However, all imperfect governments are not equal.

With respect to Rule of Law, at least five billion human beings alive today are subject to governments which give them cause to envy the adherence to rule of law actually practiced in the Five Eyes countries.

It’s not perfect, but it’s another world from what most people have.

If Assange ever comes to the U.S. to “face the charges,” I am confident that his case will be in impartial courts which will make a reasonable and justifiable application of the laws.

The Department of Justice can assert whatever it wants. DoJ is not the courts. Federal courts in the U.S. still function with a great deal of independence, I’m glad to report. They say “no” to the executive branch, to congress, state governments etc. quite frequently.

DoJ can say that foreigners aren’t protected by the Constitution … but the odds are that federal courts won’t buy it. The word “citizen” appears nowhere in the Bill of Rights. Numerous court precedents interpret various constitutional rights as applying to non-citizens where U.S. jurisdiction applies.

Ironically, whether Assange is a “journalist” is something of a red herring, inasmuch as courts have protected the free speech rights of individuals just as much as they protect those of press organizations.

It seems to me that the charges against Assange are all pretty shaky. One way or another, he would get the best legal counsel in the country, and would stand a good chance of acquittal.

If convicted, his sentence would likely be far shorter than the duration of his bizarre and miserable sojourn in London.

I pay attention to what’s happening in China, Russia, and other repressive regimes.

That liberal democracies are drastically better at protecting basic rights doesn’t excuse their failures.

Even so, the law does matter in the U.S., EU, etc.

Clive Robinson January 25, 2020 8:45 PM

@ MarkH,

With respect to Rule of Law, at least five billion human beings alive today are subject to governments which give them cause to envy the adherence to rule of law actually practiced in the Five Eyes countries.

It’s probably not five billion, but that’s not realy the point.

The First World Western societies had reasonable legal systems and the citizens expected them to stay that way, afterall they were based on a conservative system atleast a thousand years old. Thus generation after generation of people had trust in it.

It was accepted that sometimes guilty parties would go free because socially that was more acceptable than the innocent be punished.

In the UK it all started coming apart with the press. For it was they that stired it up and blaimed politicians when the guilty went free. The result was “tough on crime” which caused various police officers “Fitting them up” as “It’s their turn” or worse justification. What brought things to a head were things to do with terrorism, politicians demanded instat results so the police grabed, forensics were produced, people were tried and went to jail claiming they were innocent. Some died still protesting they were innocent because they were…

Eventually those still alive were released but little good it did them, the police officers that had fitted them up were retired on nice pensions and they’d got away with it.

Then in South West London a young woman was found dead on Wimbledon common[1], again the press cried for blood. The Police for no particular reason and no evidence that was even remotely credible took a man to court on psychobable, that the judge threw out thus the prosecution collapsed but not befor the man had his reputation and life destroyed by the press. Eventually a decade later the police finally found the murderer, who had killed others and was in jail. After a long investigation it was found that the original investigation had done little or nothing right. But again the officers were retired…

The case of TV celebrity Jill Dando[2] is yet another where a man was arrested for no good reason and the use of poor forensics led to him being convicted but later much later after further trials gained his freedom. The current cold case theory is she was killed by a specialist hitman using specialised equipment hired by Serbian’s.

There have been other cases. Under Tony Blair politicians were becoming embarrassed not just by the number of people walking free from court but also the costs of the legal process. So he and the man he used to live in a flat with decided to rewrite a thousand years of legal practice. As a defendent you now have one heck of a lot less rights and people can assassinate your character with hearsay without your ability to cross examin them. And many other things. Has it improved the legal process, anything but, however it apparently has not even saved money just moved it around. Oh and quite a bit has been “cronie” privatised to companies making kick backs to party funds, and failing to deliver anything of worth (not that politicians will admit that).

So the legal system has been worsened considerably by political medling and with nothing to show for it, appart from even less police to carry out investigations…

Likewise forensics after political interferance became privatized and very quickly a race for the bottom started… Every time I look into what it has become I shudder to think about the lack of quality involved.

There is the myth of “innocent untill proven guilty” it does not work that way and the more political meddling involved the worse it gets. The legal process these days is the police draw up a list of suspects, the one that looks easiest to convict then has the case fitted around them. If the CPS go for it it goes to court, then the prosecution and defence just talk it out over the heads of a jury, who are expected to make a decision based on things they have not a snowball’s chance in hell of understanding. Worse they’ve been brain washed by CSI style TV programs. It’s a circus show at best, what it is not is reason and justice.

I could go on further about the degredation of the legal system in the UK but this is long enough as it is.

The point is whilst other people have worse legal systems, they have been like that long enough that the people living there have no expectation of justice. In the west howrver we still mainly delude ourselves that we have just legal systems…

I’ve seen in the UK that we don’t have a just legal system any more and it’s getting worse. Politicians especially the current encumbrants don’t want to have a just legal system, they want a legal system that works for them and not for what they see as their enemies (us the citizens).

The political system should never be incharge of the judiciary and as far as is possible the judiciary should never be beholdent to politicians in any way. Whilst this brings up an oversight issue there are ways to deal with that.

But your average UK citizen does not normally come into contact with the police or judicial system thus they tend to live in a fantasy that all is wonderful with it. Thus it causes a grave shock if reality happens to them. They then find that of the people they know few believe them because of the fantasy. Thus they find their friends and aquaintances are no more because part of the fantasy is “there is no smoke without fire”. Then they find when trying to regain employment that “mud sticks” and the press are good at “throwing mud”…

The fantasy is almost unshakable even though there is no logic to support it, in fact the very opposit. However in the UK middle classes this fantasy is endemic, because from the time they can talk and walk they are taught the fantasy not the reality.

When you are young, you have no life skills to filter out the rose tints of what you are told thus raise caution, so you are bred as a “lifelong believer” in the fatasy.

Unless that is, you have the misfortune to meet real life head on, and like any collision of opposites that hurts. Worse beyond a certain age the cognitive dissonance such a crash causes can destroy you, unless you have well above average self reliance and understanding of the base failings of others.

For various reasons I’m not going to go into here I learnt whilst still young some of the harsh realities of life and how justice does not happen, and I had to live with it. It did not make me stronger but it did make me a lot more cautious of what goes on around me, and that has saved my life several times, and kept me out of quite a bit of trouble. But I don’t trust much any more either, and that makes life more difficult than it might otherwise be. Such is the price of reality.



MarkH January 26, 2020 8:37 AM


From my very unscientific sampling of cases in which people were wrongly convicted here in the U.S., my impression is that the most common cause is incompetence and/or malfeasance by prosecutors.

As far as I can tell, it’s exceptional for courts themselves to be implicated.

When the police and/or prosecutors get it wrong, this can usually be corrected by excellent representation for the defendant. Of course, those who suffer the worst are the poor, and even more those with low cognitive levels, who may easily be confused or manipulated into false confessions.

This is not my idea of justice (or, I hope, anybody else’s). However, most defendants have a fair shot if they are provided with competent counsel, however despised they may be. This is very different from the situation in PRC or Russia, for example.

If Assange ever comes into the U.S. federal court system, I think it practically certain that he will have the best legal counsel money can buy. Millions of eyes will be watching, providing some safeguard against “shenanigans.”

U.S. federal court judges don’t have to carry water for anybody. So I expect that either Assange would enter into a plea deal (something I suppose he would be very loath to do), or his trial would actually be decided on a pretty sound interpretation of applicable laws, rather than any political agenda.

N.B. U.S. federal court judges have grown more and more ideological, but that is quite distinct from political. Especially in recent years, first amendment speech protections have been championed by conservatives and liberals alike.

myliit January 26, 2020 9:08 AM

@gordo, Sancho_P, Clive Robinson, or popcorn eaters

Regarding christian fundamentalist, Koch brothers front man, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo … Pompeo takes on National Public Radio:

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelley: “I only had about 10 minutes with him. But I had flagged last night that I also wanted to talk about Ukraine, and that portion of our conversation got testy. I started by asking about Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Kyiv until she was pulled out with urgency last year. And I want to play you a longish section of that interview. Here we go.

Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?

MIKE POMPEO: You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran. That’s what I intend to do. I know what our Ukraine policy has been now for three years of this administration. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. This administration delivered the capability for the Ukrainians to defend themselves. President Obama showed up with MREs. We showed up with Javelin missiles. Previous administration did nothing to take down corruption in Ukraine, we’re working hard on that. We’re going to continue to do it. I just don’t have…

KELLY: I confirmed with your staff last night that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine.

POMPEO: I just don’t have anything else to say about that this morning.

KELLY: I just want to give you another opportunity to answer this because, as you know, people who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here.

POMPEO: I don’t know who these unnamed sources are you’re referring to. I can tell you this. When I talked…

KELLY: These are not unnamed sources. This is your senior adviser, Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer with four decades experience who testified under oath that he resigned in part due to the failure of the State Department to offer support to foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine.

POMPEO: Yeah. I’m not going to comment on things that Mr. McKinley may have said. I’ll say only this. I have defended every State Department official. We’ve built a great team. The team that works here is doing amazing work around the world.

KELLY: Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?

POMPEO: I’ve defended every single person on this team. I’ve done what’s right for every senior person on this team.

KELLY: Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?

POMPEO: I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you.”


Subsequently, “I (Kelly) was taken to the Secretary’s private living room where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about same amount of time as the interview itself. He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine.

He asked, “do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”

He used the F-word in that sentence and many others. He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away.

He said, “people will hear about this.”“


“ Pompeo is “among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.” Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador told me, “He’s like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s a$$.””

gordo January 26, 2020 3:55 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

So, maybe it was a setup.

Who knows! From upstream alligator clips to end-point compromise, per the complaint, as reported on below, apparently there’s an audio file:

US Journalist Denounced for Alleged Involvement with Brazilian Criminal Organization
Sarah Cole, Infosecurity Magazine, 22 Jan 2020

Seven individuals are named and denounced in the complaint, including computer programmer Gustavo Henrique Elias Santos and his wife, Suelen Oliveira, who allegedly recruited people to participate in a series of scams.

Greenwald was named as an auxiliary to the criminal organization’s activities after a recording of a conversation between the journalist and the organization’s alleged hacker Luiz Molição emerged. The recording was found on a MacBook seized by Brazilian police from the house of Walter Delgatti Netto, who prosecutors allege was one of the organization’s leaders.

In the audio, Molição confirms that a phone hack is ongoing. He then asks Greenwald for guidance on the possibility of “downloading” the content of other people’s Telegram accounts before the journalist publishes certain articles on his website, The Intercept.

Prosecutors allege that Greenwald then advised Molição to cover the criminal gang’s tracks by deleting archives of material that they had sent to the journalist. Deleting the material could hinder a police investigation and possibly reduce the criminal liability of the individuals behind the hack.

Though not familiar with Portuguese, and not having seen an English translation of the complaint (which would be nice), given the claim of an audio file, another possibility, since we’re talking setups, would be fake audio:

The plots thicken.

And from our host on “the arms race”:

“We can hope that our ability to identify artificial personas keeps up with our ability to disguise them. If the arms race between deep fakes and deep-fake detectors is any guide, that’ll be hard as well. The technologies of obfuscation always seem one step ahead of the technologies of detection. And artificial personas will be designed to act exactly like real people.”

There’s also a VIPS memo on the first Assange indictment which came out before the superseding indictment. Well worth a read.

DATE: April 30, 2019

MEMORANDUM FOR: The governments and people of the United Kingdom and the United States

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Extradition of Julian Assange Threatens Us All

gordo January 30, 2020 10:11 AM

Cleaning up my previous post, speculating on setups, the audio is not fake (emphasis added):

Less than two months ago, the Federal Police, examining all the same evidence cited by the Public Ministry, stated explicitly that not only have I never committed any crime but that I exercised extreme caution as a journalist never even to get close to any participation,” Greenwald said in the statement, which can be read below in full. “Even the Federal Police under Minister Moro’s command said what is clear to any rational person: I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist — ethically and within the law.”

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