Politico reports the Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.
It’s a surprise move that has national security experts and some former officials pinching themselves, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. The decision also means that Assange will not face punishment for publishing one of the CIA’s most potent arsenal digital code used to hack devices, dubbed Vault 7. The leak — one of the most devastating in CIA history — not only essentially rendered those tools useless for the CIA, it gave foreign spies and rogue hackers access to them.
Extradition laws require the extradition to be done within 60 days of the initial indictment – which was done in March.
Additionally, the sensitivity of the information Assange has would need to be revealed at trial. “There is no question that there are leak cases that can’t be prosecuted against the leaker or the leakee because the information is so sensitive that, for your proof at trial, you would have to confirm it is authentic,” said Mary McCord, who was acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department until 2017. “So the irony, often, is that the higher the classification of the leaked material, the harder it is to prosecute.”