WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London for conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network in 2010. If convicted for espionage, he could face life in prison. I break it down on Fox News with Shepard Smith.
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WikiLeaks founder under arrest and facing extradition to the US
April 17th, 2019
Shepard Smith: Bob Bianchi, former Prosecutor and now Criminal Defense Attorney. If there are, if there are those in our audience who want to say he exposed things that the people needed to know, they can say that, but they haven’t gotten him on exactly that. They’ve, been specific about the way they plan to charge Julian Assange.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah. Well this is a really dynamic and unfolding scenario.
Shepard Smith: Kind of hit him like a terrorist.
Robert Bianchi: Shep, that’s a big point here because there’s a statute of limitations issue here on the conspiracy charge, which is usually five years. And they put a little terrorism piece into that because that extends that statute of limitations, which means when they filed the sealed indictments, even with the extended statute of limitations, they only did days before that, that statute of limitations expired. Expect that there to be a big argument over in Britain when they make an argument that these charges are not something that he should be prosecuted under. The statute of limitations has expired.
Shepard Smith: That’ll be on the extradition part.
Robert Bianchi: Yes.
Shepard Smith: It’s possible that he may not ever come over here. Is that what you’re saying?
Robert Bianchi: You know Shep, it’s going to be a bigger thing that I think people are making. One, they got to be able to prove that there’s a legitimate charge. The second thing is it’s got to be the kind of crime that that country itself would prosecute, and then that country can make conditions to the United States. For example, the easy one for people to remember. It’s like a recent murder case that I covered where they said the person who actually committed the murder cannot be charged with the death penalty if we bring them back over to your country. So, one person was convicted of the death penalty, but the person was the actual shooter was not because Mexico refused to extradite unless that agreement was made. So, extradition is a tricky thing here.
Shepard Smith: Yeah. If Julian Assange gets back here and they convict him on the charges, then what happens to him?
Robert Bianchi: Okay, well I, I expect that they want to extract data, counter intelligence information from him and information that was related to the Mueller probe. So, they’ve got him for a low-level offense that carries a maximum of 20 years. But if they go towards this espionage piece, which clearly this could fit and they say, listen, if you don’t play ball with us now we’re going in getting a superseding indictment and then we’re going to have to make you plead to the most readily provable offense, because that’s the new guidelines under the Department of Justice after Jeffrey Sessions, that you could be spending the rest of your life in jail. What do you got? Is it valuable, valuable to other countries, valuable to Russia, valuable to China, counter intelligence wise, and individuals in the United States that may have helped out? If you want to play ball with us, we’re working to do that. There’s no doubt that that’s what they’ll do when they get him over here.
Shepard Smith: You’re a Defense Attorney who used to be a Prosecutor, which means you can prosecute and you can defend. Could you make a defense for Julian Assange that look, he was doing the people’s work? Could you make that defense? And if so, how would you do it?
Robert Bianchi: Here’s where that’s, again, it’s a media question and there’s a legitimate valuable question here. We cannot have government interfering with the media in their access of data and being able to get that out transparently to the public. But this case goes far beyond that. He actually assisted in helping break passwords and pass codes.
Shepard Smith: So, you would say that if you were defending him?
Robert Bianchi: No, no. If I were defending, if I were defending him, I would be saying, listen, he was just trying to assist somebody and getting data, it wasn’t successful, she did this on her own and that you should really look at this as a guy who was a journalist trying to get information who may have gone a little wayward, maybe stepped technically over the lines, but you don’t need it to hit a fly with a sledgehammer here. Again, we don’t know all the facts of what’s alleged other than what’s in this indictment. And there is some arguments that are out there that he really wasn’t doing much more than saying, hey, you got the eyes, you got the ears, you got the data, you want to give it to me. Let me help you do that. You know, I, I think it’s a tough argument for the defense though.
Shepard Smith: We’ll know soon enough. I mean, I suppose we will?
Robert Bianchi: It will be a while for that extradition though to play out. I think it’s going to be a battle in those courts.
Shepard Smith: It’s going to be a process. Thank you. Bob Bianchi, thanks.