WikiLeaks’ public staff includes editor Julian Assange, investigations editor Sarah Harrison, sections editor Joseph Farrell, and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson. Due to the threats against WikiLeaks as a publishing organisation, and the need for high security for sources, many other members of WikiLeaks remain anonymous. WikiLeaks staff are many in multiple countries around the globe. Courage is supporting and working to protect all members of WikiLeaks against the threats against their security and freedom.
Threats against WikiLeaks staff
Trump’s Department of Justice is looking to bring charges against multiple members of WikiLeaks’ staff.
The Washington Post reported that US officials are “taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents and investigating whether the group bears criminal responsibility for the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools, according to people familiar with the case.” The Post also reported that prosecutors have been “drafting a memo possibly including conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act.” CNN reported that one of the key elements for investigators was related to WikiLeaks work assisting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – work that publicly is known to have involved multiple members of WikiLeaks staff.
These charges would mark a turning point in the years-long Grand Jury investigation, convened in 2010, into WikiLeaks, including its founders, owners and staff members.
In December 2010, Twitter was issued subpoenas for several WikiLeaks-related accounts, including that of Icelandic politician Birgitta Jonsdottir.
In 2013 it came to light that in 2011, the FBI had secretly sent eight agents to Iceland in 2011 in relation to the investigation of WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks staff and associates have been stopped and questioned at international borders — security researcher and WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum has been detained multiple times since 2010.
In January 2015, WikiLeaks revealed, “Investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson have received notice that Google had handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged ‘conspiracy’ and ‘espionage’ warrants carrying up to 45 years in prison.”
The alleged offences are:
- Espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) – imprisonment up to 10 years
- Conspiracy to commit espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(g) – imprisonment up to 10 years
- The theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government: 18 U.S.C. § 641 – imprisonment up to 10 years
- Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: 18 U.S.C. § 1030 – imprisonment up to 10 years
- (general) Conspiracy: 18 U.S.C. § 371 – imprisonment up to 5 years
In response, the late Michael Ratner, representing WikiLeaks, wrote a letter to Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, demanding information about all materials Google provided to law enforcement, as well as an explanation for Google taking two and a half years to notify WikiLeaks of the search warrants or disclosure.
The Guardian reported, “When it notified the WikiLeaks employees last month, Google said it had been unable to say anything about the warrants earlier as a gag order had been imposed. Google said the non-disclosure orders had subsequently been lifted, though it did not specify when.”