Roger Stone's indictment connected to transparency group WikiLeaks | News Coverage from USA

Roger Stone’s indictment connected to transparency group WikiLeaks

The indictment of Roger Stone, a former aide and confidant to President Donald Trump, revealed new details about his communications with WikiLeaks, an organization that disseminated hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 election.

The indictment unsealed Friday charged Stone with seven counts, including making false statements, witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding. It alleges, that Stone has been lying to investigators about his contact and “interactions” with WikiLeaks, referred to in the indictment as “Organization 1.”

The indictment does not claim Stone’s collusion with Russia or that he directly worked with WikiLeaks to release the stolen Democratic documents. It also does not claim that Stone received the tranche of stolen information prior to its publication.

There is, in other words, no smoking gun. 

More: Roger Stone indictment: Top takeaways from the 24-page report

More: Read the full indictment against Roger Stone, an informal Trump adviser

However, the indictment does allege that Stone lied about and attempted to obscure his “frequent written communication by email and text message with Person 1, who also provided STONE with information regarding Organization 1.”

Who “Person 1” is was not immediately clear. 

But “Organization 1” – WikiLeaks – has long been controversial with U.S. authorities for its determination to release documents from anonymous sources and leakers.

Its publication during the presidential campaign of materials allegedly stolen by hackers linked to Russia’s government is what has led to its scrutiny by the special counsel, Robert Mueller’s probe. The transparency group published emails belonging to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. 

WikiLeaks is run by Julian Assange, an Australian national who has been given diplomatic sanctuary inside Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012.

He fled there in an attempt to escape extradition to Sweden over a rape investigation.

Prosecutors in Sweden have since dropped that charge but Assange’s chief reason for not wanting to contest the allegation in person in Sweden was that he feared Swedish authorities would in turn extradite him to the United States. 

Assange believes U.S. prosecutors are planning to press charges against him related to WikiLeaks’ publication, beginning in 2010, of thousands of diplomatic cables that revealed the content of secret dispatches sent back to Washington from U.S. embassies. They included politically embarrassing details such as that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered U.S. diplomats to gather personal data and information on the leadership of the United Nations. They also laid bare the United States’ evaluation of world leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was described in one cable as someone who “avoids risk and is rarely creative.” In another, Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was compared to Hitler. Washington believes the leak was a national security concern and put members of the U.S. military at risk.

In recent days, Assange announced he is taking legal action against the U.S. to try to unseal any “secret” charges it may be preparing against him. Speculation increased such charges may be forthcoming after U.S. prosecutors inadvertently mentioned Assange’s name in a public filing about an apparently unrelated case about sex-crimes. Seamus Hughes, a terrorism researcher at George Washington University, came across Assange’s name buried in the filing and posted it on Twitter. Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the court filing was made “in error.”

The charges filed against Stone relate to testimony he gave to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 in connection with the special counsel’s probe. 

“My testimony before the House Intelligence Committee is completely 100 percent accurate … I’m no longer interested in the frivolous word games, of the parsing of the words, the immaterial or I should say nonmaterial, hairsplitting,” he said at the time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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