Asked About Snowden, Julian Assange Attacks U.S. Justice System
WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange was a Sunday guest on the ABC News show This Week With George Stephanopoulos, and he took the time for a self-serving slam of the court that may one day indict him.
Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, ducking rape allegations against him from Sweden. But U.S. officials also have an interest in Assange, who published classified information a couple of years ago that was supplied to him my Private Bradley Manning , who is now on trial for that leak.
Assange is also the current benefactor and advisor to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is said to be at a Russian airport and trying to avoid capture that could lead to his being handed over to U.S. authorities.
In response to a question by George Stephanopoulos about Snowden's current whereabouts, Assange turned the question around into an attack on the judicial system that is pursuing both Snowden and Assange.
Why is it that Mr. Snowden is not in the United States? He should feel that he should be afforded justice in the United States. But his situation is very similar to a situation that I face and that my staff face where we have been sucked into a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, that's where the charges for Mr. Snowden came from, Alexandria, Virginia.
What do we know about that district? It's six kilometers from the center of Washington, D.C., the jury pool is made up of the CIA, Pentagon, et cetera. In the legal community in the United States, it's known as the rocket docket because of the lack of scrutiny procedures have there. There's a 99 percent chance that -- a 99.97 percent chance that if you're a target of the grand jury you'll be indicted. And a 99 percent that if you're indicted by a grand jury you will be convicted.
Breitbart News asked attorney J. Christian Adams of the Election Law Center about the reputation of the Federal Court of Eastern District of Virginia. He said:
I'm admitted there. Assange isn't being indicted because of politics. Period. It is called the rocket docket because the judges deliberately set out to implement procedures that move cases. It is a good thing. The need for speed is deliberate and they put it above the entrance of the courthouse: JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED.
Of course, most of the cases heard in federal courts don't involve espionage, either. Complain as he might about the efficiency of Federal Courts, situations like Assange's or Snowden's are outliers for usual cases involving drugs, robbery or murder.
As this 2009 report on Federal Justice Statistics says:
In the federal justice system overall, 9 in 10 defendants charged with a federal criminal offense were convicted in 2009, and about 8 in 10 of those convicted received an imprisonment sentence. The average prison sentence imposed in 2009 was 57 months. Violent offenders received the longest average prison sentences (113 months), followed by offenders convicted for weapons (87 months) and drug (82 months) offenses. About 1 in 10 convicted offenders received a probation sentence.
It's understandable that Assange would want to try to attack the American justice system given the legal predicament he and Edward Snowden find themselves in--especially given how their own public statements are some of the strongest evidence against them. Their strategy seems to be to delay justice as long as possible, in the hopes that it is denied.