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28 Feb, 2012 16:16

‘Not for Pub’: US drew up secret Assange charges – Stratfor leak

‘Not for Pub’: US drew up secret Assange charges – Stratfor leak

The US prepared a secret “sealed indictment” on Julian Assange over a year ago. That comes from a recent Stratfor mail leak published on a drip-drip basis by WikiLeaks.

The newly-released batch of confidential emails reveals Stratfor's vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, warned his colleagues of the “not for pub” indictment.Last year, media reports suggested the US might not be able to charge Julian Assange with espionage as no direct links had been found between him and his alleged informant, Bradley Manning.Burton, a former State Deptartment counterterrorism agent, ended the speculation on whether the US could hook the WikiLeaks founder by saying: "We have a sealed indictment on Assange,” also calling for the sensitive information to be "protected."

‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’

This is how Burton commented on Assange’s arrest by London police on behalf of Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape in December 2010.Stratfor was keeping a close eye on any developments surrounding Assange’s arrest. The analysts were so eager to crack the encrypted archive released by Wikileaks – as insurance should something happen to the firm’s staff – that they suggested torturing Assange. And Burton, an experienced antiterrorism expert, could hardly wait for Assange to fall into the hands of US justice.The “founder needs to be water boarded until he gives us the code,” Burton said. And he seems to be serious, as in another email he reiterated that Assange “needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo.”But discussions between Stratfor’s tactical analysts make it clear how skeptical the “shadow CIA” was towards the whole sexual-assault case and the British authorities' ability to find any evidence directly linking Assange to Manning. Analyst Ben West wrote that Assange was too smart to leave any “sensitive stuff” linking him to Manning lying around for British authorities to discover.Analyst Sean Noonan wrote that Assange’s trial on charges of sexual assault would be nothing more than a “political circus.”In another email, senior Stratfor officer Chris Farnham suggested there could be absolutely nothing behind the case except “prosecutors that are looking to make a name for themselves.”

What's inside the indictment?

It is unclear if Stratfor really possesses the indictment against Assange, as the company refuses to give any detailed comments on the recent leak of its email database, only saying the leak was “a deplorable, unfortunate – and illegal – breach of privacy.”The US Department of Justice is also refusing to comment on whether anyone has been charged in the sealed indictment, journalists from rawstory.com reported after contacting DOJ officials.Currently, the US wants Assange to testify against Manning, a former US soldier who is charged with espionage and aiding the enemy. But it is quite possible that Assange would face the same charges should he come face to face with American justice.On February 27, WikiLeaks began exposing more than 5 million emails apparently obtained in a hack of Stratfor. The emails, dated between July 2004 and late December 2011, give a glimpse into how Stratfor gathers confidential information from paid insiders, including senior state officials, and provides it to large corporations and US government agencies.Assange is appealing his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in relation to sexual assault allegations. Sweden, however, has a bilateral agreement with the US on extradition procedures – if sent to Sweden, Assange could swiftly end up in a US court.US prosecutors insist they can prove Manning's connection to Assange and WikiLeaks, but so far all the evidence seems to be inferential. The investigation refers to the soldier’s chat logs in which Manning discussed WikiLeaks and called himself an informant.