LONDON: The man who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” in regards to the Vietnam War defended Julian Assange at his London extradition listening to on Wednesday, saying WikiLeaks had acted within the public curiosity and warning Assange wouldn’t get a good trial within the United States.
Australian-born Assange, 49, is combating to cease being despatched to the United States, the place he’s charged with conspiring to hack authorities computer systems and violating an espionage regulation over the discharge of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.
Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked paperwork often called the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and different papers, advised the court docket that WikiLeaks` disclosures had proven Americans how they’d been misled about U.S motion in Iraq and Afghanistan simply as his leaks, which additionally revealed beforehand secret data, did in regards to the Vietnam War.
Ellsberg cited a U.S. navy video, which WikiLeaks printed in 2010 underneath the title “Collateral Murder”, displaying a 2007 assault by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen individuals, together with two Reuters information employees.
“I was acutely aware that what was depicted in that video deserved the term murder, a war crime,” he advised London`s Old Bailey court docket by way of videolink. “I was very glad that the American public was confronted with this reality of our war.”
James Lewis, the lawyer representing the U.S. authorities, mentioned Assange was not needed for publishing the 2007 video however for disclosing a small variety of paperwork with the unredacted names of sources or informants. Lewis mentioned many of those had suffered hurt or threats as a result of they’d been named. He mentioned some had disappeared, though he conceded that there was no proof this was straight linked to the WikiLeaks` publication.
“How can you possibly say … that there is no evidence that Mr Assange`s publication of WikiLeaks put anyone in danger. That`s just pure nonsense,” Lewis mentioned. Ellsberg, who was himself charged with breaking the espionage regulation in a case that was later dismissed, mentioned there was no proof of bodily hurt or deaths due to the leaks. The trade with Lewis led to an outburst from Assange within the courtroom, with the choose warning him to stay silent.
Earlier, John Goetz, an investigative reporter who labored for Germany`s Der Spiegel journal on the primary publication of the paperwork in 2010, mentioned Assange was cautious to make sure that the names of informants in a whole lot of 1000’s of leaked secret U.S. authorities paperwork have been by no means printed.
Goetz mentioned WikiLeaks was pissed off when a password that allowed entry to the complete, unredacted materials was printed in a e book by Guardian reporters in February 2011.
Assange`s legal professionals argue that he wouldn’t obtain a good trial within the United States and that the costs are politically motivated. They have additionally mentioned he could be a suicide danger if despatched to the United States, the place they are saying he may very well be sentenced to 175 years in jail.
In 2012, Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to keep away from extradition to Sweden the place he was accused of intercourse crimes, which he denied and which have been later dropped. After seven years, he was dragged from the embassy by British police in 2019 after which jailed for skipping bail associated to the Swedish case. He has remained in jail ever since, after the United States made its extradition request.