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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Assange files charges alleging US spied on him in Germany

Assange files charges alleging US spied on him in Germany

Julian Assange (Reuters / Anthony Devlin / Pool)

Julian Assange has filed a complaint to open a criminal investigation against a former US marine who allegedly spied on the WikiLeaks founder during his visit to Berlin in 2009, Germany’s Federal Prosecutor confirmed Wednesday.
A 60-page criminal complaint was filed with Germany’s Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe on Tuesday. It included charges against an unnamed US soldier who had been stationed in Germany from 2006 to 2010, Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and northern German public broadcaster NDR reported.

The WikiLeaks founder alleges that the US soldier monitored his "journalistic activities" while he attended a conference of the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin in December 2009 and later submitted his observations in a classified report to US intelligence authorities.

The German media reports also suggest that the Marine was a witness for the prosecution in the trial against the former US Army private previously known as Bradley Manning.

Similar complaints alleging potentially unlawful US intelligence operations against Assange are expected to be filed in other countries, including Germany and Denmark, according to WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.

"It's time to confront it and fight back on all fronts," Hrafnsson told AP.

Swedish police opened an investigation on Tuesday after Assange urged them to find his suitcase which he claims was illegally seized "as part of an intelligence operation with the purpose of gathering information about [him]," according to an affidavit that his lawyer filed along with a criminal complaint to police at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport.

The suitcase was reportedly stolen in 2010 during Assange’s trip from Sweden to Germany, according to the affidavit.

The luggage held three laptops containing WikiLeaks materials detailing evidence of an alleged war crime committed by US troops during an airstrike in Garani, Afghanistan. Twenty-six civilians, at least 78 Taliban fighters, and five Afghan police officers were killed in the 2009 airstrike in Garani, according to the US Army investigation. Local officials reported that the attack killed 140 people in the village.

At whistleblower Manning's court-martial, prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to link him to an encrypted Garani video placed in December 2009 on the computer of a Brookhaven National Laboratory worker.

Employees of the Berlin and Stockholm airports have failed to locate the luggage or explain the reason for its disappearance, according to Assange's lawyer, Per Samuelson. "It was checked in and we have luggage tags and everything," he said. "It's gone without a trace."

"The suspected seizure or theft occurred at a time of intense attempts by the US to stop WikiLeaks' publications of 2010," Assange said, urging Swedish authorities to "seek explanations" from Obama’s administration during the US President’s visit to the country on Wednesday.

WikiLeaks has published tens of thousands of documents containing secret US diplomatic and military communications over the last few years.

Its founder has been holed up for more than a year at Ecuador's Embassy in London. He is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual assault, which he denies. Assange believes he would be extradited from Sweden to the US, where he would most likely face trial.