Pro-Transparency Group Releases Secret Files on the Case Between Julian Assange and the U.S. Government

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The pro-transparency group, DDoSecrets, has published sensitive documents and communications relating to the case between Julian Assange and the U.S. Government on a site called AssangeLeaks.

The documents were published on AssangeLeaks, at 3am AEST on July 15 and contain 26 PDFs as well as a video file and a folder of previous leaked documents. Prior to publishing, DDoSecrets, the pro-transparency group behind June’s major BlueLeaks release, had set up a countdown timer running on the site.

The subject of the release contains a number of chat logs between Julian Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks. The documents included on the site include chat logs and letters dating back to 2010 between Assange, sources and hackers. They relate to Chelsea Manning and upcoming leaks the organisation had planned at the time.

The site said it was not taking a side by releasing the information, rather that the release of documents was in the interest of transparency.

“With the [U.S.] Justice Department’s superseding indictment against Assange, public access to the evidence becomes critical. The documents in this file illuminate that case and illustrate how WikiLeaks operates behind closed doors,” the site reads.

“AssangeLeaks is not for or against Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, and is only interested in the evidence.”

The documents’ publication hasn’t been without criticism. An Italian investigative reporter and pro-Assange advocate, Stefania Maurizi stated that private communications between journalists should not be the target of document releases unless there is criminal wrongdoing.

Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence in London’s HM Prison Belmarsh for “failing to surrender to the court”. He was previously granted asylum by London’s Ecuadorean embassy and had lived there since 2012 until his arrest in April 2019.

In May 2019, 17 new charges were filed by the U.S. government against Assange, accusing him and WikiLeaks of violating the U.S.’s Espionage Act.

“To obtain information to release on the WikiLeaks website, Assange encouraged sources to circumvent legal safeguards on information; provide that protected information to WikiLeaks for public dissemination; and continue the pattern of illegally procuring and providing protected information to WikiLeaksfor distribution to the public,” the charges read.

“He predicated his and WikiLeaks’s success in part upon encouraging sources with access to such information to violate legal obligations and provide that information for WikiLeaks to disclose.”

Earlier this month, the Justice Department filed a superseding indictment — a new set of charges that supersedes the previous ones — broadening the charges against Assange.

It alleges Assange had worked with hacking groups, like Anonymous and LulzSec, to target classified government information. It alleges it was has this information after revealing a member of LulzSec, referenced as “Sabu”, was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Assange’s extradition hearing in London is expected to occur in September after a delay pushed its original May date back.

Correction (July 17, 2020): An earlier version of this article referred to DDoSecrets as a group of hacktivists. This is incorrect and the article has been updated to reflect this. Gizmodo Australia regrets this error.