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WikiLeaks grand jury sparks protests

Manning: proceedings
irk supporters

Word that a grand jury investigating the unauthorized release of confidential government information by WikiLeaks is expected to prompt protests in Boston and Alexandria, VA, on June 15. David House, founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, is scheduled to appear before a grand jury to be convened at the federal district court house in Alexandria on that day, according to information posted at the network's Website.

Bradley Manning is the U.S. soldier accused of leaking the confidential documents to WikiLeaks.

The rallies in protest of the grand jury proceedings, which are conducted under a thick veil of secrecy, were scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Alexandria and for 6 p.m. at the courthouse in Government Center in Boston.

"This harassment only increases our resolve to defend our fundamental constitutional freedoms,” network member Jeff Paterson said of the grand jury proceeding in a statement. “By conducting the people’s business in secret and persecuting transparency advocates, government decision-makers have abandoned core American values.”

“The Justice Department’s unprecedented crackdown, not only on accused whistle-blowers, but also their friends and supporters, stems from the same impulse to silence legitimate dissent that has become a hallmark of corrupt governments the world over,” added Kevin Zeese, an attorney with the network. “It is heartening to see that some witnesses are refusing to cooperate with this campaign to conceal the truth.”

It has been reported that "numerous witnesses" have refused to cooperate in any way with prosecutors on the case.

Since grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret — not even a witness's attorney is allowed in the room where they are held — information on them can be difficult to confirm. However, it has been suspected that the U.S. government had convened a grand jury to issue charges against WikiLeak's founder Julian Assange since last December when the attorney for the boss of WikiLeaks, Mark Stephens, aired the prospect in an interview with David Frost broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

The Assange proceeding is just one of five that have been pursued against government information leakers by the Obama Administration. Others include:

  • State department contractor Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, indicted by a grand jury for disclosing national defense information to a national news organization and lying to the FBI about it;
  • Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, charged with leaking national defense information to the media and revealing the identity of a human asset;
  • Former NSA executive Thomas Drake, charged with lying and obstruction of justice in an investigation into leaks of classified and unclassified information to a newspaper; and
  • FBI translator Shamai Liebowitz, who is serving a 20-month sentence in federal prison for leaking classified documents to a blogger.