The move comes as the Biden administration has come under pressure to drop charges against the WikiLeaks founder.
The FBI is seeking to gather new information on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported Thursday.
According to a front-page story in SMH, the FBI may try to build its case against Assange, who was indicted by the US Justice Department in 2019 for uncovering US war crimes by releasing documents. A standard journalistic practice.
The report said last week the FBI contacted Scottish novelist Andrew O’Hagan, who acted as a ghostwriter for Assange’s autobiography. O’Hagan turned down the FBI’s request because he opposes US efforts to jail Assange for his journalism.
O’Hagan said, “I will not give a witness statement against a fellow journalist who is being persecuted for speaking the truth.” “I would prefer to go to prison than agree in any way to support the US security establishment in this cynical endeavour.”
Assange’s legal team was puzzled by the FBI’s request amid mounting pressure on the Biden administration to drop the charges against the WikiLeaks founder. A delegation of Australian lawmakers recently met the US ambassador to Australia and called on Washington to release Assange, who has been held at Belmarsh prison in London since his indictment.
Assange’s Australian lawyer, Stephen Kenny, told SMH: “It appears they are continuing to try to investigate, which I find unusual, given the amount of time that has passed since the investigation began.”
“I think this is cause for some concern as we try to secure a deal that will bring Julian home. It would be very unusual for the FBI to try to gather evidence that could help clear his name.” Yes,” Kenny said.
Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, said the US appears to be seeking a new indictment against Assange and that it shows “how flimsy the charges are” against him.
The Biden administration has also been under internal pressure regarding Assange. A group of House Democrats led by Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) recently sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to drop the charges.