FLASH: U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, accused in Wikileaks case, pleads not guilty to aiding the enemy at military hearing.
FLASH: Military judge denies defense request to dismiss case against Army private in Wikileaks incident.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused “hard-right” U.S. politicians on Tuesday of pressing European credit card firms to block more than $50 million of donations to the website that published thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
Assange, speaking to reporters at the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he took refuge in June to avoid extradition to Sweden, said the credit card companies’ action had forced WikiLeaks to reduce the volume of documents it posted online.
Assange lamented a preliminary ruling by the European Commission on Tuesday that it was unlikely Visa Europe, MasterCard Europe and American Express Co had violated EU anti-trust rules with their blocks on processing WikiLeaks donations.
Ecuador is ready to negotiate over the fate of Julian Assange if Britain withdraws a threat to raid its embassy in London where the WikiLeaks founder has sought refuge, President Rafael Correa said on Tuesday.
Ecuador was incensed by a veiled British threat to enter the embassy to arrest the 41-year-old former computer hacker, who is trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Correa has offered Assange asylum and told Britain to let him leave the embassy and fly to the South American country. The leftist leader said Assange, who has been in the building for nine weeks, was welcome to stay there “indefinitely,” but also said he was open to discussions.
“Despite that rude, impertinent and unacceptable remark we’re still open to dialogue,” Correa told reporters in the coastal city of Guayaquil.
“We don’t expect an apology, but of course we expect Britain to retract the extremely serious mistake they made when they issued the threat that they could violate our diplomatic mission to arrest Mr. Julian Assange.”
DEVELOPING: UK Foreign Minister Hague says Britain will not allow Assange safe passage out of Britain.
Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday, ratcheting up tension in a standoff with Britain which has warned it could revoke the diplomatic status of Quito’s embassy in London to allow the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder.
The high-profile Australian former hacker has been holed up inside the red-brick embassy in central London for eight weeks since he lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape allegations.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said he feared for the safety and rights of Assange which is why he said his country had decided to grant him asylum.
“Ecuador has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange,” Patino told a news conference in Quito.
Ecuador’s decision takes what has become an international soap opera to new heights since Assange first angered the United States and its allies by publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his WikiLeaks website.
Britain’s Supreme Court will rule on Wednesday on whether to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes, the latest chapter in the saga of the self-styled Internet whistleblower and bane of Washington.
Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers, and he has been fighting a lengthy legal battle against extradition since his arrest in Britain in December 2010.
The Supreme Court will say whether it agrees with his argument that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) under which his extradition is sought is invalid. Two lower courts have already ruled that he should be extradited.
The former computer hacker gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began releasing secret video footage and thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables about Iraq and Afghanistan, in the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history.
Bradley Manning, the U.S. intelligence analyst charged with leaking thousands of classified U.S. government cables to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, will face a court martial on September 21, a military judge said on Wednesday.
Manning is accused of downloading more than 700,000 classified or confidential files from the military while serving in Iraq, the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history.
Military judge Colonel Denise Lind said that military prosecutors and Manning’s defense team had decided on a tentative trial schedule beginning September 21 and lasting through October 12. The trial will start more than two years after Manning was arrested.
READ MORE: Bradley Manning faces trial in September
I love WikiLeaks — by which I mean that any organization that helps ferret out the secrets of states or the nefarious secrets of corporations deserves a cozy place in my heart. But as anyone who has experienced my love can tell you, it’s not always lovely. So I don’t feel bad at all about taking the business end of my press-crit rake to the latest WikiLeaks project, “The Global Intelligence Files.”
The Files contain in excess of 5 million emails from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. WikiLeaks appears to have obtained the email from the hackers at Anonymous, who nicked the haul late last year. There may be great stuff in the 5 million emails, but the files released thus far, which International Business Times puts at 194 emails, underwhelm.
Today’s email dump and the first set of stories based on them aren’t a complete waste because they help demystify both WikiLeaks and Stratfor. Both organizations are capable of doing “good” work. But little of that is on display here.
Reuters Opinion: “Wikiyawn” by Jack Shafer