FBI restarts Julian Assange probe despite hopes of release

United States law enforcement authorities are seeking to gather new evidence about Julian Assange in an apparent effort to bolster their case against the WikiLeaks founder, even as hopes rise among his supporters that a diplomatic breakthrough could soon see him released from prison.

and can reveal that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last week sought to interview acclaimed novelist Andrew O’Hagan about his time working as a ghostwriter on Assange’s autobiography over a decade ago.

The letter showing FBI agents wanted to interview novelist Andrew O’Hagan about Julian Assange.


O’Hagan, who wrote a well-known and often scathing essay about the breakdown of his working relationship with Assange, said he would not agree to an FBI interview because he opposes any attempt to punish him for publishing classified material.

The revelation of the interview request came as an unwelcome surprise to Assange’s lawyers, who did not previously believe there was an active investigation under way into Assange given it has been three years since US prosecutors issued an indictment against him.

Assange’s Australian lawyer Stephen Kenny said: “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 would think it is of some concern because we have been working to try to secure an arrangement that would see Julian come home. It would be very unusual if the FBI was trying to gather evidence that could help clear his name.”

A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange protests in London last year.


Kenny said he was not aware of any other recent attempts by US authorities to interview witnesses about Assange.

Assange’s UK-based lawyer Jennifer Robinson said last month his legal team was open to a David Hicks-style plea deal if required in order to secure his release from London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison and avoid a possible lengthy jail time in the US.

Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton said it appeared US prosecutors were trying to prepare a new indictment or a superseding indictment against Assange.

“It shows they understand how weak the charges against Julian are and are trying to strengthen them,” he said.

London Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism command delivered a letter to O’Hagan last week saying FBI officers in Washington, DC, wanted to speak to him.

“The FBI would like to discuss your experiences with Assange/ WikiLeaks as referenced in and ,” the letter said, referring to the titles of the Assange autobiography and a 2014 essay by O’Hagan in .

“I would not give a witness statement against a fellow journalist being pursued for telling the truth,” O’Hagan told this masthead.

“I would happily go to jail before agreeing in any way to support the American security establishment in this cynical effort.”

‘I might have differences with Julian, but I utterly oppose all efforts to silence him.’

Andrew O’Hagan, Julian Assange’s former ghostwriter

O’Hagan said he was surprised the FBI investigation was still ongoing and he believes the attempt to interview him “shows some desperation on their part”.

“They are using the Espionage Act to victimise an organisation that sought to hold governments to account,” he said.

“I might have differences with Julian, but I utterly oppose all efforts to silence him.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed the letter was genuine, but said he could not comment further on the matter.

Supporters including WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, Julian Assange’s father John Shipton and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood march in solidarity with Assange in February 2020. Westwood has since died.


The letter stated that O’Hagan was being sought only as a witness and that his participation was voluntary.

In his essay, O’Hagan chronicled how he became increasingly disillusioned with Assange after being hired to ghost-write his biography, describing him as “thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, narcissistic”.

“His pride could engulf the room in flames,” wrote O’Hagan, who has been nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize three times.

O’Hagan spent extended time with Assange in 2011 – including 50 hours of interviews – for the first draft of an autobiography that was ultimately published against Assange’s wishes.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the case against Julian Assange should be brought to an end.

James Brickwood

Their conversations began only months after WikiLeaks shot to global prominence by publishing a massive cache of documents about the Iraq War and a tranche of secret US diplomatic cables, based on materials leaked by former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

US authorities have charged Assange with 17 counts of breaching the US Espionage Act plus a separate hacking-related charge, accusing him of being a central figure in “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.

Assange’s supporters have been buoyed by several recent developments, including US ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy’s decision last month to meet with a cross-party delegation of Assange supporters to hear their concerns.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has also changed his stance on the issue, saying it was time for the case against Assange to be brought to an end.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said last month that “a solution needs to be found that brings this matter to a conclusion” and he had communicated his position to US officials.

”Mr Assange needs to be a part of that, of course, and so I’m hopeful that that will occur,” Albanese added, in comments that were widely interpreted as a reference to a possible plea deal between the US and Assange.

Assange’s supporters say he is being punished for publishing embarrassing information, while prosecutors allege he “actively solicited” classified material and put lives at risk by publishing the unredacted names of people who provided information to US diplomats around the world.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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