By Jason Ditz
(ANTIWAR.COM) – Officially, the US government has barely conceded that there is an investigation into WikiLeaks at all. Yet after years of efforts to quietly vilify the whistleblower for its publications, the efforts to overtly criminalize the group are picking up pace.
The government has accidentally admitted to charges against Assange, at least in secret, and WikiLeaks is in the midst of a lawsuit trying to learn more.
Reports are that investigators have been pursuing leads dating back several years in their investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and the long-standing goal of charging him with serious crimes now looks to be expanding into an overall criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.
While WikiLeaks is said to believe a lot of interest is built around the 2017 Vault 7 leaks on CIA hacking tools, reporters say witnesses are also being pressed on leaks dating back to 2010.
Officials have sought to make an example of Assange for years, with some openly calling for his execution. The Obama Administration said they decided against trying to prosecute WikiLeaks as an organization because its activities are “too similar to those of the media.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others in the current administration have sought to change this perception of WikiLeaks, however, trying to brand them a “hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo even claimed WikiLeaks is plotting to “take down America any way they can.”
While President Trump was more enthusiastic about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, likening them to the media probably isn’t going to convince him not to try to take legal action against them if the rest of the administration really wants to.
Specific targeting of Assange is going to be difficult and rests heavily on whether or not they are able to get him out of the Ecuador Embassy in London. Failing that, and a potentially problematic extradition effort coming with it, the US doesn’t likely have the opportunity to get a hold of any high-ranking WikiLeaks organizers.
This is likely why the US is taking the opportunity to dig so deeply, and so far back, into the organization. There is no real prosecution to be had right now, but efforts to criminalize the whistleblowers was always the long-term goal.