Dealing a blow to the U.S. case against Julian Assange, investigators now think that Pfc. Manning procured and handed over State Department and other documents on his own, without any encouragement from Wikilileaks. According to the Wall Street Journal, for the prosecution's case against Assange to work, they need to "show that the WikiLeaks founder specifically encouraged Mr. Manning to hand over the documents, which included thousands of State Department cables, as well as low-level intelligence reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Attorney General Eric Holder's crew is still going after Assange, but the latest finding (or lack thereof) makes trying the case that much more difficult.
On the other hand, the discovery may make Sweden's case against Assange easier to prosecute. Assange, who is being investigated on sexual assault allegations in Sweden, is currently hiding out in the U.K. and fighting extradition. His attorney Geoffrey Robinson has argued that if Assange were sent to Sweden, the U.S. would drag his client off to Guantanamo. But if the U.S. is having this much trouble figuring out a case against Assange, is that scenario really likely? With Guantanamo possibly out of the picture, one more reason to keep Assange in Britain falls away.
On the other hand, Assange's lawyer also mentioned "illegal rendition" to the U.S. as a concern. If the U.S. can't put together formal charges, will it just swoop in and grab Assange from a coffee shop?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.