Prosecutor in Assange Case Has Long Career of Controversy

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg, a federal prosecutor at the heart of the case against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assang
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New York, NY – July 19, 2021 – The Intercept has published a report by journalist Murtaza Hussain that sheds light on the highly contentious career of Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg, a federal prosecutor at the heart of the case against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

Story link: The Prosecutor at the Heart of the Julian Assange Case

Kromberg has been a highly controversial figure in U.S. legal circles for over two decades, with a long track record of accusations of abusive practices and bias in his prosecutions. As the government’s point man on notorious terrorism cases following 9/11, he was frequently accused by opposing counsels and civil rights groups of engaging in racist behavior and using unethical tactics in pursuit of convictions.

Hussain calls attention to a 2008 Washington Post profile of Kromberg, which details the controversy surrounding Kromberg’s conduct in the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian academic in the U.S. who faced terrorism charges after 9/11. According to the profile, Kromberg has a history of accusations of anti-Muslim bias, including joking about a terrorism suspect being tortured and decrying "the Islamization of the American justice system." One legal expert referred to Kromberg as a “loose cannon.”

Additionally, according to affidavits filed by opposing counsel about his conduct, Kromberg allegedly denied appeals to accommodate Muslim defendants during Ramadan on the grounds that if “they can kill each other during Ramadan, they can appear before a grand jury.”

As the Biden Justice Department pushes to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom to the United States on Espionage Act charges, Hussain’s reporting offers a vital look at a key figure in one of the most important civil liberties cases in the world. Should the U.S. government’s efforts succeed, prosecuting Assange under the Espionage Act could endanger press freedoms and shape the future of national security reporting as we know it.

“Kromberg’s key role suggests that the Justice Department is not taking the implications of the case on its end lightly,” writes Hussain. “Legal observers say that the incredible extent that the government is going to level these charges, spending years pursuing Assange in various forms, and placing one of its most aggressive prosecutors on the case all sends a dire message to those who would publish classified information in the future.”

Murtaza Hussain is a reporter at The Intercept who focuses on national security and foreign policy. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, MSNBC, and other news outlets.

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