December 5th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Call it a comeback for Assange? Maybe

In the past few days, the WikiLeaks saga has taken two sharp turns.

On Thursday, 287 documents appeared on the WikiLeaks site about the global surveillance and arms industry. The dump provided many documents to mine, and it's still unclear what they might all mean. The Washington Post and other outlets called it a comeback for the site and for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

And on Monday, Assange won the right to fight his extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden on sexual assault allegations. This is the latest (and last) chance Assange will get to avoid answering allegations made by two women in 2010 that he forced them to have sexual relations. Assange has not been charged with a crime. Sweden is seeking him for questioning.

Swedish officials have said that the sex crime case has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or anything published on the site, including a trove of classified American intelligence in 2010 and early 2011. But Assange has repeatedly said that he believes the Swedish case is a ruse, and that if he is extradited to Sweden he'll be more vulnerable to extradition to the U.S., where he could be prosecuted in relation to WikiLeaks' release of classified U.S. information.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, has said that Assange should be prosecuted for espionage. He also has said that the U.S. should classify WikiLeaks as a terrorist group so that "we can freeze their assets." King has called Assange an enemy combatant.

In less than two weeks, starting on December 16, the U.S. military will begin its case against Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier suspected to have leaked classified information that appeared on the WikiLeaks site. Who is Manning?

The soldier, in his early 20s, will face a military trial in Maryland on a range of charges that could send him to prison for life. It's been more than a year since the Swedish case first hit the news.

Here's a look at what has transpired since then.

In December 2010, Assange was detained in England on a Swedish arrest warrant. Two women were accusing Assange of sexual assault. Assange spent 10 days in jail in England (inspiring a "Saturday Night Live" spoof). He was released on $315,000 bail and placed under electronically monitored house arrest. Since that time, Assange has been living at a mansion in the British countryside, where he did an interview with "60 Minutes" in September.

In February, a British court ordered Assange extradited to Sweden for questioning in relation to the sexual assault allegations. He appealed, while his lawyers publicly challenged Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny to go to London to defend her handling of the case against Assange. "Today, we have seen a Hamlet without the princess - a prosecutor who has been ready to feed the media within information, but has been unwilling to come here," Assange attorney Mark Stephens told reporters outside a south London courtroom.

In November, an appeals court denied his appeal against extradition. The decision sparked different reactions from key WikiLeaks players. It left Assange with one last option: Great Britain's Supreme Court.

On December 5, Assange got approval from the British courts to proceed with an appeal to the highest court.

Assange addressed reporters Monday, saying that his case will benefit other cases involving extradition.

"The long struggle for justice for me and others continues," he said.

In 2010 WikiLeaks posted 77,000 classified Pentagon documents about the Afghanistan war and 391,832 secret documents on the Iraq war. It also published a quarter million diplomatic cables ‚ÄĒ daily written correspondence between the State Department's 270 American outposts around the globe. The cables were released in batches for several months, until September of this year when they were released in total. U.S. officials called the release of the cables "dangerous" and "illegal."

An unauthorized biography of Assange, which he has fiercely criticized, was also released in September. According to several reports,  British newspaper The Independent published what it said were portions of the book. In one section of the book, Assange is quoted as saying, "I did not rape those women."

Since Assange's Swedish case began, WikiLeaks has struggled. The website, launched in 2006, has had financial problems. In October, Assange said that it would stop publishing until the group could raise more money. In February, former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg released a tell-all book about what it was like to work with Assange and for WikiLeaks. He blasted Assange, calling him a "paranoid, power-hungry, meglomaniac." Several articles, from CNN.com to the New York Times, have wondered whether Assange's legal problems and WikiLeaks' internal strife would kill the site. Perhaps reports of WikiLeaks' demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Last week's new release, which WikiLeaks is calling "The Spy Files," could mean that the site is far from doomed.

A few days before The Spy Files hit, on November 28, Assange addressed journalists at a News World Summit in Hong Kong via a video link from England. For at least 30 minutes he went on a rant criticizing Washington, mainstream media, banks and others, while accepting an award from a noted journalism group, the Walkley Foundation of Australia.

CNN.com was at the event.

Among other statements in his acceptance speech, Assange said a federal grand jury in Washington is investigating WikiLeaks and that people and companies around the world have been or are being coerced to testify against WikiLeaks. He accused banks of blockading WikiLeaks. He also said that journalists have become ladder climbers and must be held to greater account, and that there is a "new McCarthyism" in the United States. Assange vowed that WikiLeaks' next "battle" would be to make sure governments and corporations cannot use the Web as a surveillance tool.

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Filed under: Julian Assange • WikiLeaks
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Pete/Ark

    Nice defense..." I'm not a perv...it's all a multinational facist plot and all you orwellians who see black helicoptors need to defend me...". Crap.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dumbpeopleeverywhere

    I for one support him, crazy as he may be he is shedding light on the dark of corruption and I plan to continue to support it with all the weapons at my disposal

    December 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      shooting blanks? Read the whole bio on this self-serving geek-he'd sell you down the river in a nanosecond if it got HIM something.

      December 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cat man stevens

      If shedding light on corruption means "needlessly exposing military secrets." If his intetions were good, he'd look for so called "massacres" and focus on them. But since he couldn't find any, he decided to mindlessly dump everything he had on the Internet. Which doesn't make him a hero, it makes him a frustrated ideologue who's trying to make a name for himself and causing immense damage to the free lands he has no problem enjoying.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      see...cats do think...

      December 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Don't forget to pack your AK-47 rifle and your Quran, DUMBPEOPLEEVERYWHERE.... if you hear a strange sound in the night, don't worry– it is probably just the Predator drones doing exercises.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Yohobah

    CNN is not posting mines. again...
    American taxpayers are wasting money in their current political representatives. Press the reset button you all. The system is stock.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy

      Yeah, CNN supports free speech for all who parrot their views; the rest, not so much.

      December 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      You guys are right. It's not an automated system that filters out posts containing banned content and counts the number of times someone clicks "report abuse". It's actually a conspiracy just aimed at your two.

      December 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy

      Such blatant straw-man effort, worthy of your mental prowess, anemic.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SciGuy

    God D A M N the US for it's treatment of Bradley manning.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Thank you, SciGuy. I feel the same way especially when we have politicians in Washington who are far more deserving of this than Bradley Manning himself!

      December 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Yeah, we should let espionage go unpunished, and allow subversives like you and PFC Manning to share information crucial to the peacekeeping effort's strategies with the enemy and everyone else. Heck, while we are at it, we should never keep any plans, strategies, or strike plans a secret, all military strategic planning should be done at Wikileaks HQ....right? PFC Bradley took a vow when he joined the service, and then he intentionally broke that vow and shared sensitive information with the enemy. That is called TREASON. The information he shared was only news to the general public, and did nothing to promote peace in the world. All he did is stir up anti-coalition sentiments with seemingly provocative information, bolster Al-Queda's ranks, and draw subversives and rebellious teenagers like you like moths to a flame.... Freeze his assets, shutdown his pro-terrorist website, and send the fool to jail for espionage already.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy

      It is not treason freeOFthinking, chk the const.ti.tution.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Craig

    If he wanted his comeback he can wipe it off that Swedish woman he sodomized.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snoot

      He should change his name to Nils Bjurman.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SciGuy

    Peter king is a traitor to the principles this country was founded on.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Thank you, SciGuy. How true that rings!!! Anyone who would vote for this Peter King needs to have their head examined!!!

      December 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Because he recognizes the fact that not all wartime information should be shared with the public? Are you seriously telling us that all gevernments engaged in wartime or peacekeeping activities around the world have to share all their classified information adn strategies with the likes of you, or they are traitors? Subversive nonsense....

      December 5, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rodneigh King

    How does his hair grow so fast! Ugh. Jealous

    December 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Barbra Walterz

    Why does CNN have so many Muslims and Blacks on their reporting staffs? Is it too hard to see a WHITE person hosting your channel? I mean seriously, whites are a majority. What's the d@mn problem? Back I go to PBS, where they don't have token minorities! Yuck!

    December 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      WOW DUDE ! Didn't know th' Klan came out in drag.

      December 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anomic Office Drone

    I don't know if Julian Assange is a good or bad guy, but I do think that WikiLeaks is a good thing.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fr33th1nk3r

    if you are publishing intelligence and wartime materials that do not belong to you (and that can potentially cost many lives through their release– a fact that Assange has already affirmed "He does not care about the ramifications" were his exact words), then you are conducting what is called ESPIONAGE, period. He is a terrorist, and shall go down in flames like terrorists do when their 15 minutes of fame has worn out, and the civilized world catches up to his devious methods.

    December 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      more good thinking

      December 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy

      By civilized world, I'm guessing you mean govts of said civil world, which govts have been responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people over the lad hundred years...yeah, so what's one more? But beware, self-styled freethinker, you may be next on their list.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      What millions of lives are you talking about, SciGuy? Please be specific....

      December 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      "Freedom of information" is a far cry from "sharing classified/sensitive materials that could strongly aid the enemy", JOEY. You and the rest of the rebellious teenagers on this forum would do well to learn the difference....

      December 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Marine5484

    I can't quite get over just how many people here are ignorant enough to take up for the government in this matter against Julian Assange. Are these people truly that naive or have they no sense of right or wrong? And just how many of them ever finished grade school? Ignorance, like I said before, is this country's biggest problem!

    December 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy

      Ironically, it's the govt schools that make it possible for most of society to behave like sheep, blindly believing whatever the govt tells them. Part of what makes men like Manning and Assange critically important for us.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      geeeeeeez.......IF you were EVER a Marine we can now say there are TWO EX-marines...you and Oswald.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SciGuy

    I've posted twice now with reasoned replies, no vulgarities, just anti-govt views, and they do not appear. CNN is clearly in bed with the govt. Way to bid service to your master, faux journalist CNN.

    December 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. brian

    a comeback? is he a singer now

    December 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. regina

    Justice has a chance after all...............let¬īs hope British Legal representatives can still stand for Justice and free Assange. He needs his name clean, people..... he talks for all of us, the people of the world....

    December 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Will i am

    Your just a bunch of sheepeole.

    December 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
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