BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania — (DMN) – The trial of former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky is in it’s final hours. Sandusky, 68, has been under house arrest since being charged with sexually abusing 10 boys for at least 15 years. Prosecutors allege that he met some of his accusers through Second Mile, a charity he created for underprivileged children. In interviews after his arrest, Sandusky acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with boys but denied being sexually attracted to them. Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts related to child sexual abuse. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A jury of five men and seven women, along with four alternates, was selected last week. Half of the 16 jurors and alternates have ties to Penn State, including one retired professor and one current professor, three graduates, two employees and one current student, showing the prominence of the university in the local community.
Many Sandusky jurors have Penn State ties
Here’s a look at some the key players, pertinent facts about the case and how it all unraveled:
Who is Jerry Sandusky?
Birth date: January 26, 1944
Birth place: Washington, Pennsylvania
Birth name: Gerald Arthur Sandusky
Marriage: Dorothy “Dottie” (Gross) Sandusky (1966 – present)
Children: (all adopted) E.J. (male), Kara, Jon, Jeff, Ray, Matt, Sandusky also fostered several children.
HLN: A closer look at Jerry Sandusky’s family
Occupation: Retired assistant football coach at Penn State for 32 years, including 23 years as defensive coordinator.
The Second Mile
Founded in 1977 in State College, Pennsylvania, by Jerry Sandusky.
Initially began as a group foster home for troubled boys but grew into a non-profit organization that “helps young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members.” Annually provides services to more than 100,000 children from all counties in Pennsylvania.
A grand jury report says Sandusky molested young boys after developing close relationships with them through The Second Mile. David Woodle, acting CEO of the organization, said the group was “sorrowful and horrified” and is concerned most about the alleged victims and their families.
Tim Curley - Former Penn State athletic director; charged with one count of felony perjury and one count of failure to report abuse allegations.
Mike McQueary - Penn State receivers coach who allegedly witnessed the rape of a young boy by Jerry Sandusky in a Penn State locker room in 2002; placed on administrative leave.
Jerry Sandusky - Founder of The Second Mile and retired Penn State assistant football coach; accused of sexually abusing young boys he met through the non-profit organization over a period of at least 15 years.
Gary Schultz – Former vice president for finance and business at Penn State; charged with one count of felony perjury and one count of failure to report abuse allegations.
Graham Spanier - Former president of Penn State.
Read the criminal complaint against Sandusky (PDF)
Read the grand jury findings in the case (PDF) [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT]
Read the second grand jury presentment against Sandusky (PDF)
Read the civil complaint lawsuit filed against Sandusky (PDF)
Read the transcript of hearing in case against Curley, Schultz (PDF) [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT]
Timeline of specific stories of abuse, accusations
1994 - 1997 - Sandusky allegedly engages in inappropriate conduct with three different boys he met separately through The Second Mile program. One boy was 7 or 8, another was 10, and the third was 12 or 13 at the time.
1998 - Penn State police and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare investigate an incident in which the mother of an 11-year-old boy reports that Sandusky had showered with her son.
June 1, 1998 - Sandusky is interviewed and admits showering naked with the boy, saying it was wrong and promising not to do it again. The district attorney advises investigators that no charges will be filed and the university police chief instructs that the case be closed.
2000 - Sandusky allegedly showers with a young boy and tries to touch his genitals during overnight stays at the coach’s home, according to the now 24-year-old man’s testimony.
2000 - James Calhoun, a janitor at Penn State, tells his supervisor and another janitor that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the Lasch Building showers. No one reports the incident to university officials or law enforcement.
March 2, 2002 – Graduate assistant Mike McQueary tells Coach Joe Paterno that on March 1, 2002, he witnessed the rape of a 10-year-old boy by Jerry Sandusky in the LaschBuilding showers at Penn State.
March 3, 2002 - Paterno reports the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley. Later, McQueary meets with Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz.McQueary testifies that he told Curley and Schultz that he saw Sandusky and the boy engaged in anal sex, Curley and Schultz testify they were not told of such an allegation. Instead, Curley said he had the impression the conduct amounted to “horsing around.” Schultz said he couldn’t remember details. Sandusky’s locker room keys are confiscated and the incident is reported to The Second Mile, but no law enforcement investigation is launched.
2005 or 2006 - Sandusky allegedly befriends another Second Mile participant whose allegations would form the foundation of the multi-year grand jury investigation.
2006 or 2007 - Sandusky allegedly begins to spend more time with the boy, taking him to sporting events and giving him gifts. During this period Sandusky allegedly performs oral sex on the boy more than 20 times, and the boy performs oral sex on him once.
2008 - The boy breaks off contact with Sandusky. Later, his mother calls the high school to report her son had been sexually assaulted and the principal bars Sandusky from campus and reports the incident to police. The ensuing investigation reveals 118 calls from Sandusky’s home and cell phone numbers to the boy’s home.
How the case against Sandusky unfolded
1998 - Psychologist Alycia Chambers tells Penn State police that Jerry Sandusky acted the way a pedophile might, in her assessment of a case in which the mother of a young boy reported that Sandusky had showered with her son and may have had inappropriate contact with him. A second psychologist, John Seasock, reported he found no indication of child abuse.
November 4, 2011 – The grand jury report is released.
November 5, 2011 – Jerry Sandusky is arraigned on 40 criminal counts. He is released on $100,000 bail. Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz are each charged with one count of felony perjury and one count of failure to report abuse allegations.
November 7, 2011 – Curley and Schultz, who have both stepped down from their positions, are arraigned.
November 11, 2011 – Mike McQueary, a Penn State receivers coach who allegedly witnessed the 2002 rape of a young boy, is placed on indefinite administrative leave.
November 11, 2011 – Students hold a candlelight vigil on the University Park campus for the victims of sexual abuse.
November 13, 2011 – Jack Raykovitz, CEO of The Second Mile, resigns.
November 14, 2011 – In a phone interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, Sandusky states that he is “innocent” of the charges and claims that the only thing he did wrong was having “showered with those kids.”
November 15, 2011 - The Morning Call (Allentown) reports that in a November 8, 2011, email to a former classmate, Mike McQueary says he did stop the 2002 assault he witnessed and talked with police about it.
November 16, 2011 – Representatives of Penn State’s campus police and State College police say they have no record of having received any report from McQueary about his having witnessed an alleged rape of a boy by former coach Jerry Sandusky. November 16, 2011 – A new judge is assigned to the Sandusky case after it is discovered that the Leslie Dutchcot, the judge who freed Sandusky on $100,000 bail, had volunteered at Sandusky’s The Second Mile charity.
November 21, 2011 – It is announced that former FBI Director Louis Freeh will lead an independent inquiry for Penn State University into the school’s response to child sex abuse allegations.
November 22, 2011 – The Patriot-News reports that two cases of child sex abuse charges against Sandusky have been opened by Children and Youth Services in Pennsylvania. The cases were reported less than two months ago and are in the initial stages of investigation.
November 22, 2011 – The administrative office of Pennsylvania courts announces that all Centre County common pleas court judges have recused themselves from the Sandusky case. The office said this is to avoid any conflicts of interest due to connections with Sandusky, the Second Mile charity, or Penn State.
November 30, 2011 – The first lawsuit in the scandal is filed on behalf of a person listed in the complaint as “John Doe,” who says he was 10 years-old when he met Sandusky through The Second Mile charity. Attorneys say Sandusky sexually abused the alleged victim “over one hundred times” and threatened to harm the victim and his family if he alerted anyone to the alleged abuse.
December 2, 2011 – Attorneys for an alleged sexual abuse victim say they have reached a settlement with The Second Mile that allows it to stay in operation but requires it to obtain court approval before transferring assets or closing. The Second Mile also is required to notify the plaintiff about any proposed distribution of assets.
December 3, 2011 – In an interview with The New York Times, Sandusky says, “If I say, ‘No, I’m not attracted to young boys,’ that’s not the truth. Because I’m attracted to young people – boys, girls – I …” His lawyer, who was present at the interview, speaks up at that point to note that Sandusky is “not sexually” attracted to them.
December 7, 2011 – Sandusky is arrested on additional child rape charges, which raises the number of alleged victims from eight to 10 people, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office. He is charged with four counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and two counts of unlawful contact with a minor. He also faces one new count of indecent assault and two counts of endangering a child’s welfare, in addition to a single new count of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors.
December 8, 2011 - Sandusky is released on $250,000 bail. He will be placed under house arrest and will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device. He’ll also be restricted from contacting the alleged victims, possible witnesses, and must be supervised during any interactions with minors.
December 13, 2011 - Sandusky enters a plea of not guilty and waives his right to a preliminary hearing.
December 16, 2011 – A hearing is held for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Mike McQueary testifies he told university officials that he saw Sandusky possibly sexually assaulting a boy in 2002. Following the testimony, the judge rules that the perjury case against Curley and Schultz will go to trial.
January 13, 2012 – Tim Curley and Gary Schultz enter pleas of not guilty for their failure to report child sex abuse and waive a court appearance scheduled for later this month.
January 27, 2012 - Sandusky files a request to modify the conditions of his bail so he can contact his grandchildren.
January 31, 2012 – Prosecutors file a motion for a change of venire.
February 10, 2012 – At Sandusky’s hearing, prosecutors argue that Sandusky should be forbidden to be outside his home, which is close to a school playground, during his house arrest.
February 13, 2012 – Judge John Cleland eases conditions of Sandusky’s house arrest; including visits with eight of his grandchildren under parental supervision and visits from adult friends. Judge Cleland also denies the prosecutions’ requests for a change of venire (the jury pool be drawn from outside the area) and that Sandusky refrain from using his deck.
February 13, 2012 – Tim Curley files motions to dismiss his charges of perjury and failing to report suspected abuse.
February 14, 2012 – Gary Schultz petitions to join Tim Curley’s motion and also seeks dismissal of his perjury and failure to report charges.
February 14, 2012 - Penn State says that the Jerry Sandusky case has cost the university $3.2 million thus far in combined legal, consultant and public relation fees.
February 23, 2012 - Penn State says that the university has received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania requesting information aboutSandusky and his charity. Sandusky is already being prosecuted by the Pennsylvania state Attorney General’s Office over allegations that he sexually abused young boys over a period of 15 years.
March 29, 2012 – Jury selection, scheduled to start May 14, is postponed until June 5.
April 5, 2012 - Sandusky’s pre-trial hearing takes place.
April 9, 2012 – Judge John Cleland places a gag order on the case.
May 18, 2012 – Prosecutors amend charges against Sandusky. The number of charges and victims remains the same, but more detail is provided. The additional information includes identifying the various types of sexual activity that Sandusky is accused of having with the young victims, as well as places where the alleged illicit incidents occurred.
May 25, 2012 – The Second Mile requests court approval in Centre County, Pennsylvania, to transfer its programs to Arrow Child & Family Ministries.
June 1, 2012 – The Pennsylvania Superior Court will not hear Sandusky’s appeal for trial delay. A lower court had ruled against Sandusky earlier in the week.
June 5, 2012 – Jury selection starts for Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse case.
June 6, 2012 – The jury pool breakdown is seven women, five men and four alternates.
This report provided by CNN.COM
I have exercised restraint during Jerry Sandusky’s trial in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania on child sex abuse charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life. With his trial moved from the court of public opinion, where he has already been found guilty, to the court of law where evidence must be presented and proven, any opinion I would share would be conjecture. I am not on the jury. I have not had access to the courtroom. That being said, the news reports from the trial paint a disturbing picture.
Ann O’Neill writes for CNN that for the first week of Jerry Sandusky‘s child sex trial, eight young men held jurors spellbound with testimony about a sports hero they say groped them in the car, soaped them in the shower and sexually assaulted them on a basement waterbed. How do you come back from something like that? Sandusky’s defense attorneys, Joe Amendola and Karl Rominger, responded this week with rapid-fire rounds of testimony; 29 witnesses took the stand in little more than two days — including 11 character witnesses in a single hour. The defense also chipped away at the character and motives of the alleged victims, sparing no one: not the young accusers, not their families and certainly not the cops.
The defense rested shortly before noon Wednesday without calling Sandusky as a witness. The prosecution had no further rebuttal. The jurors were dismissed and told to return Thursday morning for closing arguments. They also were advised to pack suitcases, because they will be sequestered at a hotel during deliberations. Many defense witnesses — including Dottie, his wife of 46 years — painted Sandusky in glowing terms befitting a saint. Others questioned the motives of his accusers, particularly the ones known as Alleged Victim Nos. 1, 4 and 9. Two mental health experts, one for the defense and one for the prosecution, seemed to cancel each other out.
Sandusky’s character witnesses included more than a dozen old friends, former colleagues, fellow church members, ex-players and boys and girls he counseled through his nonprofit for at-risk kids, the Second Mile. They portrayed him as a football legend, role model and selfless do-gooder with a sterling reputation. For Sandusky, it was like homecoming weekend in the courtroom as he chatted, smiled and shook hands with people he has known for decades. They included Lance Mehl, an All-America linebacker at Penn State who went on to play for the New York Jets and works now as a probation officer in Ohio. His testimony was typical: “We all looked up to him,” Mehl testified in a booming voice. “He is a class act.”
Sandusky, retired defensive coordinator for Penn State’s storied football team, is charged with 51 counts of molesting 10 boys over 15 years. He denies the charges, and his lawyers have suggested that overzealous police and prosecutors targeted him in a trumped-up case. They have compared him to David, fighting Goliath. The defense called psychologist Elliott Atkins to testify about what No. 4 called “creepy love letters” he received from Sandusky. Atkins characterized the letters as symptomatic of a mental condition called histrionic personality disorder. He said he diagnosed Sandusky with the disorder after giving him two personality tests, interviewing him for six hours and reviewing the letters and other evidence. But a prosecution psychiatrist, Dr. John Sebastian O’Brien II, saw no evidence of any personality disorder in the test results. If anything, he added, there might be some indication of a “psychosexual disorder.” But he said further information would be needed for a diagnosis.
Defense attorneys played what they say is a smoking gun audiotape: 16 minutes of inadvertently recorded conversation in which a state trooper, Cpl. Joseph Leiter, casually discusses with attorney Ben Andreozzi how best to get the cooperation of the young man who would become known as Alleged Victim No. 4. Leiter had denied advising No. 4 about what other victims were saying; the tape contradicted his testimony. The witness was so terrified to talk with police that he curled in the fetal position on his sofa the first time officers knocked on his door, according to testimony. He hired Andreozzi, who specializes in representing crime victims and advertises extensively.
No. 4 was taking a cigarette break outside when Andreozzi suggested to the trooper that it might help to let him know others were talking. The tape was left rolling inadvertently, and it captured everything. “Oh, you’re kidding, the time frame matches up?” Andreozzi can be heard saying. “Can we at some point say, ‘Listen, we have interviewed other kids. … Other kids have admitted there was intercourse. Is there anything else you want to tell us?’ ” Leiter responded that such a tactic was not unusual. “Yes, we do that with all the other kids,” he said on the tape. “This is what we found; this is how he operates. … This has happened, and that has happened.”
No. 4 returned to the room and was given a Sierra Mist. The popping and fizzing of soda cans being opened can be heard as Leiter addresses his reluctant witness: “You’re not the first,” the trooper said. “I’ve interviewed probably nine kids, nine other adults. … If this was a book, you’d be repeating word for word what other people told us. And we know from these other young adults who talked to us that there is a pretty well-defined progression that he operated and still operates to some degree.” The defense contends that No. 4′s statement was “tainted” by suggestions about what the accuser should say. “You mentioned rape, oral sex and other activities you got from other accusers, right?” attorney Rominger asked the trooper when he took the witness stand. “Yes,” Leiter responded.
Almost as a bonus for the defense, Leiter and another former trooper contradicted each other on what they had discussed during a court break minutes earlier. Leiter acknowledged that they talked about his testimony; the other trooper denied it. Only one of them can be right. The defense attack on No. 4 continued with the testimony of a childhood friend who said he had a reputation for being “a dishonest person who embellished stories.”
There was no love lost with Dottie Sandusky, either. Asked about No. 4, she said, “He had his problems. He was very demanding, and he was very conniving, and he wanted his own way. He didn’t listen a lot.” She found the boy known as No. 1 to be “very clingy to Jerry” and said he once ran across the room and jumped in her husband’s lap. Another time, at a wrestling meet, he hugged her husband. “He would never look anybody in they eye,” she added. The defense also chipped away at the credibility and motives of No. 1 and his family by calling his mother and a former neighbor to the stand. The mother denied saying the case would make her wealthy, but the neighbor, Josh Frevel, testified that after her son claimed he had been sexually abused by Sandusky, she said, “I’ll own his house.” He added, “She said, ‘When this settles out, she’ll have a nice big house in the country, with a fence, and the dogs can run free.’ “
As for her son, Fravel quoted him as saying, “When this is over, I’ll have a nice new Jeep.” Dottie Sandusky had little to say about the other accusers, except for No. 9, whom she recalled as “a charmer,” adding, “He knew what to say and when to say it.” She said she never witnessed any inappropriate contact between her husband and boys from the Second Mile. She said some slept in an upstairs bedroom at their home during sleepovers, some slept in a first-floor room, and others slept in the basement. She said she never went down there but added that her husband would go to the basement to say good night to his guests. Although the basement was not soundproof, she said, she never heard a thing. “I just know he went and told them good night.” Asked by prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III what would motivate eight young men to make up lies about her husband, she responded, “I … I … I don’t know.”
The police may have lied, in fact, it’s pretty clear that they did. Why the cops can’t just tell the truth on the witness stand makes no sense to me when they have witness after witness telling horrid stories about what happened to them. I can chastise the police for lying…it is unacceptable but at the same time I am asking myself did these boys lie about what happened to them in Jerry Sandusky’s basement? Are they telling the truth? I think they are. Sadly they are more credible than the police. As a juror in the court of public opinion, I don’t need closing arguments to understand what happened. Based upon the preponderance of the evidence presented…as covered by the national media…guilty is the only verdict I could return.
This OP/ED piece is based upon the article by Ann O’Neill which appears on CNN.COM
Lying to Congress. Withholding information from lawmakers. Executive privilege. There is, perhaps, no greater oxymoron than lying to Congress unless, perhaps, it’s withholding red-meat details from a tank of piranhas. There are three stories, not connected at all, which still raise valid points about how much trust we put in our government. First, the case of Bradley Manning, the Army Private on trial for providing classified State Department cables to Wikileaks. Second is the case of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks chief who fears extradition to the United States and the possibility of facing the death penalty for publishing the cables. Apparently, those leaks are not approved…the penalty for which is prison or death.
The Wikileaks case is the one that gives Hilary Clinton and President Obama nightmares. The reality is that the leaks expose the two-faced, backstabbing liars working in the State Department. They expose U.S. foreign policy for what it is, carefully crafted non-sense and lies designed for a myriad if interests that, eventually, leave us all scratching our heads. On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate a series of recent leaks that critics charge are designed to bolster the national security credentials of the Obama administration. Why not? Sounds like a reasonable idea.
David Gergen reminds us about the investigation of the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas — in which Bill and Hillary Clinton actually lost money — morphed into the scandal of the Monica Lewinsky affair. During the George W. Bush administration, Scooter Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted not of leaking the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame but of making false statements to the FBI during its investigation of the leak and also perjuring himself. Investigations by special prosecutors can take on a life of their own. Indeed David but those were political investigations that did not touch the often touted national security issues.
The recent leaks involve stories in The New York Times, Newsweek and the Associated Press that range from the hitherto undisclosed role of the United States in cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities to details about the president’s decision-making surrounding the selection of the targets of the CIA drone program in Pakistan and Yemen and the penetration by a spy of al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate. Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two senior Department of Justice prosecutors to investigate the leaks, and the FBI is also investigating the matter.
But wait a minute. How can Eric Holder be trusted to investigate the leaks? An extraordinary House committee hearing began considering a contempt measure against Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday even though President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over documents sought by the panel investigating the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting. Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said the White House assertion of executive privilege “falls short” of any reason to delay the hearing.
But wait, back to the Obama leaks for a minute. Well-regarded Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “I think what we’re seeing, Wolf, is an avalanche of leaks, and it is very, very disturbing. It’s dismayed our allies. It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation’s security in jeopardy.” The story that sparked these claims was David Sanger’s piece in The New York Times earlier this month about the U.S. role in cyberattacks against Iran’s key nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz, revelations that also appear in Sanger’s fascinating new book, “Confront and Conceal.”
Sanger goes into rich detail about how computer viruses were introduced into the Natanz plant and how they then took over the controls of the finely calibrated centrifuges that the Iranians use to enrich their uranium, causing the centrifuges to spin wildly out of control. But did this really hurt U.S. national security? After all, the Iranians know that their problems with the centrifuges at Natanz are caused by cyberattacks and have publicly said so for the past two years. On November 29, 2010, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters in Tehran, “They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts.”
Computer experts around the world who examined the Stuxnet virus, the first computer virus that was introduced into the Iranian nuclear program, concluded two years ago that this was a virus that was so complex that it could only have been generated by a state, and the only two states with the technical know-how and motive to write the code for such a virus were Israel and the United States. Last year, German computer security expert Ralph Langner, who had discovered the Stuxnet virus when it had first broken out of the Natanz plant, told a conference in California, “My opinion is that the Mossad is involved. … But, the leading source is not Israel. … There is only one leading source, and that is the United States.”
Sanger’s reporting about the cyberattacks on Iran revealed that the code name for the series of computer viruses unleashed on Iran’s nuclear program is “Olympic Games” and also laid out some of the modus operandi of the viruses themselves, but since much of this was generally known by the Iranian regime, it is unlikely U.S. national security was really harmed by the disclosures. In fact, open discussion of the cyberattacks against Iran is in the public interest because three questions about the attacks quickly present themselves:
– What are the downsides of cyberattacks in a world that is so interconnected by the Internet?
– Since it is the Pentagon’s official position that a serious cyberattack against the United States is a form of warfare, is the U.S. therefore already at war with Iran?
– When does a covert action against an American enemy rise to a form of warfare that it merits a broader public discussion?
Back to Eric Holder for a minute. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives launched Operation Fast and Furious out of Arizona to track weapon purchases by Mexican drug cartels. However, it lost track of more than 1,000 firearms that the agency had allowed straw buyers to carry across the border, and two of the lost weapons turned up at the scene of the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Issa and other Republicans on the panel mentioned Terry’s death by name in accusing Holder and the Justice Department of trying to stonewall the investigation of what happened. “The Department of Justice has fought this investigation every step of the way,” Issa said. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, complained that subpoenas for documents remained unresolved eight months later. “We have not gotten to the bottom of this, and Brian Terry was killed in December of 2010,” Chaffetz said. Cummings and other Democrats challenged the Republican contention of stonewalling by Holder, saying political motivations were at play. “It shouldn’t be a political witchhunt against the attorney general and the president in an election year,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York.
Everything in Washington is a political witchhunt. Never be fooled. The allegations against Bradley Manning and Wikileaks are more about the State Department’s ability to lie and create a facade of foreign policy and have every believe it. The leaks did not threaten U.S. national security but they were ugly and politically embarrassing. Fast and Furious obviously created a much more serious threat to our national security but somehow falls under executive privilege to protect who? Of course, the leaks that show Obama as tough on terror are self-serving. Anyone else feel dirty after reading this?
It’s pretty obvious to anyone following the case of Julian Assange that U.S. prosecutors want to get there hands on the elusive Wikileaks chief who published a treasure trove of classified State Department cables but bringing Assange to the United States to face espionage charges and the potential death penalty is not easy. Police in the United Kingdom say Assange, who is seeking asylum at Ecuador’s London embassy, faces arrest for breaching his bail. Assange, 40, whose conditions included staying at a specified address approved by the court between the hours of 8:00PM and 8:00AM local time spent Tuesday night at the embassy.
Here is some background. Assange has broken no laws in the U.K. so he is wanted for questioning in Sweden over rape and sexual assault allegations. He denies any wrongdoing. Last week he failed to reopen an appeal against his extradition to Sweden. Ecuador had said it was “studying and analysing” Mr Assange’s request for asylum. Two female ex-Wikileaks volunteers alleged in 2010 that Mr Assange had attacked them while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture. No charges have been filed. Mr Assange claims the sex was consensual and that the allegations are politically motivated.
Mr Assange fears if he is sent to Sweden it may then lead to him being sent to the US to face charges over Wikileaks, for which he could face the death penalty. Last Thursday, seven judges at the UK’s Supreme Court dismissed Mr Assange’s attempt to reopen his extradition appeal as being “without merit”. The Australian has until 28 June to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. His lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, said he was considering whether to do this. Swedish authorities have said the ECHR would intervene if Mr Assange was to face the prospect of “inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial” in the US.
Assange is on £200,000 bail, provided by high-profile supporters including socialite Jemima Khan and film director Ken Loach, who each offered £20,000 as surety. Lawyers say bail would only be forfeited if Mr Assange failed to turn up for a scheduled court appearance. BBC News legal correspondent Clive Coleman said that, as Mr Assange had broken the condition of his bail that he live at a friend’s house in Norfolk, he could be arrested and brought before a court. Gavin MacFadyen, a visiting professor at City University, London, who has been to see Mr Assange at the embassy, said his friend was “very grateful” for its help. “He’s in very good humour and the generosity of the embassy is impressive and moving,” he said. A small group of protesters, waving placards with messages including “free Assange, no rendition” have gathered outside the embassy, in Knightsbridge. Meanwhile, Ecuador – whose President Rafael Correa has previously clashed with Washington and is a fan of Wikileaks – had said it would consult the UK, Sweden and the US before deciding on Mr Assange’s asylum request.
Speaking at a press conference in Los Cabos, Mexico, where she is attending the G20 summit, the Australian PM Julia Gillard said: “Mr Assange’s decisions and choices are a matter for Mr Assange. We, our officials, our consular officials, will be in contact with him and also with Ecuador in London about this, but his decisions in relation to this matter are for him to make.” “He’s received the benefit of full consular support and of course Australia will continue to support Mr Assange, just as we do support any Australian overseas who faces legal difficulties or dilemmas.”
Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
Pressed on whether Australia would intervene were the US to request his onward extradition on espionage charges, which carry the death penalty, she said: “You’re dealing with hypotheticals here and I’m not prepared to hypothesise about an individual, but I am going to be very clear with you. “For any Australian citizen, at any time, in any circumstances, we oppose extradition for death penalty cases.” But the Australian Green party attacked its govenrment’s response as “feeble” and accused it of “malign indifference”. “Apart from recklessly and incorrectly declaring the work of WikiLeaks illegal, the Government’s contribution has amounted to malign indifference,” said Scott Ludlam, Senator for Western Australian. “It is highly significant that the Ecuadorian authorities said they have contacted the British, Swedish and US governments on this matter but not Canberra. “The Australian Government might want to reconsider on which side of history it is choosing to stand.”
Maya Wolfe-Robinson writes for the GUARDIAN that although legal experts doubt that Assange will have much luck avoiding arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy, perhaps he had another plan in mind. Comparisons to Chen Guangcheng have been made, the Chinese dissident who took sancutary in the US embassy in Beijing. But Assange may also have been thinking of József Mindszenty. Mindszenty, a Hungarian Catholic cardinal, spent 15 years in the American embassy in Budapest from 1956 to 1971. Mindszenty, politically active since ordination, was arrested several times as an enemy of the state before being convicted of treason in a show trial in 1949. It seems that Mindszenty somewhat overstayed his welcome and eventually became troublesome for the US government due to overcrowding in the embassy and the floor space his quarters took up. If Assange is planning on staying, let’s hope the Ecuadorians have room.
The GUARDIAN’s data journalist and former staffer at WikiLeaks James Ball writes that with its stand-off at the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, the Assange melodrama has entered its third act. But despite the drama, we don’t yet know for sure what kind of story it is. The first possibility is political thriller: Assange is right, his critics wrong. The US is indeed trying to extradite Assange via Sweden, using a method which avoids due process and involves political interference. There’s been no evidence to support this theory, despite it being the basis of Assange’s bid for asylum, but it would be a problematic one for the US: a backdoor extradition would bring a lot of disillusioned WikiLeaks supporters back into the fold, likely prompt a (grudging) defence of Assange from the New York Times and others, and give Obama serious first amendment and human rights challenges in an election year.
Tactically, it would be the worst possible way for the US to seek extradition. The second option is greek tragedy: a world in which Assange has spent so long conflating allegations centred around his private life on a few days in Sweden with WikiLeaks’ wider battles he’s come to believe his own spin. Instead of seeing a Swedish prosecution, Assange’s belief it comes wider has led him to breach his bail, lose his supporters their bail money, and cause an diplomatic ruckus.
The third is soap opera: time and again during his Swedish sex case, Assange has escalated the situation – refusing to take an STD test, leading to the prosecution. Leaving the country and refusing. to attend a face-to-face interview (offering only Skype or through the embassy), leading to extradition. Fighting the extradition through every court to the highest in the UK. And now, prompting a stand-off outside an embassy – always moving in the direction of increasing drama and public attention. To those supporters still fanatically loyal to Assange, which of the three is happening matters a great deal. To others, it’s already a tragedy. WikiLeaks’ alleged source Bradley Manning faces trial – and a possible death sentence – in the US. Sixteen supporters who allegedly took part in attacks on PayPal, Mastercard and Visa, the online equivalent of sit-in protests, for their boycott of WikiLeaks each face up to fifteen years in prison, and await their day in court. A group of alleged UK hackers belonging to the Lulzsec group will each face their trials next week. And the WikiLeaks submission system remains down, as it has for nearly two years. But we’re not looking at any of that. We’re looking at the Ecuadorian embassy – the aftermath of a few days in Sweden. Assange’s concerns over U.S. prosecutions are very real.
The BBC and the GUARDIAN contributed to this piece.