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Lawyer for Wikileaks' Assange urges U.S. to decide if it'll prosecute

Nov. 27, 2013 at 12:13 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The lawyer for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, urged the United States to decide if they'll prosecute his client.

Responding to an article published in The Washington Post, attorney Barry Pollack said the U.S. Justice Department has not responded to WikiLeaks' inquiries about the status of the department's investigation, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

U.S. prosecutors have not filed an indictment against Assange, despite rumors that an investigation led to charges, officials said. One law enforcement official told the Post the investigation was "ongoing."

"Mr. Assange would welcome a formal unequivocal statement from the Department of Justice that it has not brought charges against him and will not do so in the future," Pollack said. "Unfortunately, to date, the Department of Justice has not been willing to make such a statement."

In 2010, WikiLeaks shared with The Guardian and other news organizations access to a trove of U.S. military communications and reports from U.S. Army Pfc Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning. WikiLeaks maintains it is a journalistic organization and is protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protections. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison as the source of the WikiLeaks disclosures.

In the Post article, officials said the Justice Department expressed concern that if it indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute news organizations such as The Guardian, and writers who published classified material.

The Justice Department declined to comment to The Guardian on whether it would prosecute Assange.

Some have criticized Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy for more than a year after he was granted political asylum. He is wanted for questioning in Sweden about sexual assault allegations.

Assange said he fears if he is extradicted to Sweden, authorities there would turn him over to the United States to face criminal prosecution over WikiLeaks. Critics said if the United States were to announce it won't press charges, Assange's arguments against extradition would be undermined.

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