Assange Agreed to Have Unpublished Material Destroyed

As part of his plea deal with the United States, Julian Assange agreed to order the destruction of any unpublished U.S. material in WikiLeaks possession.

L to R: Stella Assange, Jennifer Robinson, Senator David Shoebridge, Barry Pollack and Senator Peter Whish-Wilson at Thursday press conference in Parliament House, Canberra. (Free Assange screenshot from YouTube)

By Joe Lauria
In Canberra, Australia
Special to Consortium News

The 23-page plea deal between Julian Assange and the United States government that freed Assange this week contains a provision that he agree to return or destroy all unpublished  U.S. material still in WikiLeaks‘ possession. 

The agreement says on Page 29:

“Before his plea is entered in Court, the Defendant shall take all action within his control to cause the return to the United States or the destruction of any such unpublished information in his possession, custody, or control, or that of WikiLeaks or any affiliate of WikiLeaks.

The Defendant further agrees that, if the forgoing obligation requires him to instruct the editor(s) of WikiLeaks to destroy any such information or otherwise cause it to be destroyed, he shall provide the United States (or cause to be provided to the United States) a sworn affidavit confirming the instruction he provided and that, he will, in good faith, seek to facilitate compliance with that instruction prior to sentencing.”

Asked about it at a press conference in Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S. lawyer who negotiated the plea deal, dismissed the significance of the agreement to destroy the materials.

He said:

“You’d have to ask the United States government why they insisted on including that clause. The materials we are talking about are now more than a decade old. I don’t know to what extent any still existed or what possible value they might have, certainly no national security value.

In fact, the United States court in Saipan yesterday conceded, and the judge found that there is no evidence that any harm has befallen any individual anywhere in the world as a result of Mr. Assange’s publications.

That being said, they did insist that he issue an instruction to the editor of WikiLeaks to destroy any materials they might have that were not published and Julian has complied with that provision and issued that instruction.”

Having had most of this material for more than a decade, and the time to review its enormous archive of documents, it unlikely, but not certain, that what remained unpublished is of great significance to the public. 

This part of the plea deal had only been vaguely referred to in a handful of press reports leading to speculation that it could mean the deletion of parts or all of WikiLeaks already published material, which the agreement makes clear, remains safe.   

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange.

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8 comments for “Assange Agreed to Have Unpublished Material Destroyed

  1. a. bishop
    June 30, 2024 at 14:32

    Looking at the timing, it always seemed to me that efforts to shut WL down escalated dramatically after word came out that WL was in possession of a large cache of Bank of America documents. As of today, the Wikipedia entry on Daniel Domscheit-Berg reads,

    “WikiLeaks and other sources later alleged that Domscheit-Berg had destroyed over 3500 unpublished whistleblower communications with some communications containing hundreds of documents, including the US government’s No Fly List, 5 GB of Bank of America leaks, insider information from 20 neo-Nazi organizations and evidence of torture and government abuse of a Latin American country. Domscheit-Berg confirmed that he had destroyed the unpublished files including the No Fly list. He said that WikiLeaks’ claims about the Bank of America files were ‘false and misleading’ and that he hadn’t taken them.” (hxxps://; footnote omitted)

    Maybe WL still has/had them.

  2. Afdal
    June 28, 2024 at 20:51

    This seems to me like yet another point in favor of full, unredacted and uncurated release of leaked documents. Why even give the potential for a future adversary to have any leverage over you? Just release it all so it can be kept in the perpetual stewardship of the public.

  3. Tobin Sterritt
    June 28, 2024 at 12:35

    I know Julian Assange’s freedom hinged on the US government getting it’s proverbial pound of flesh and console myself with the notion that perhaps someone somewhere saved some of those items for posterity. Either way Wikileaks made its mark and there’s no un-ringing that bell. Thank you CN for keeping on this all the way.

  4. hetro
    June 28, 2024 at 08:17

    Two points in the plea agreement for further discussion:

    1) “The actions of the Defendant, as recounted above, were in all respects knowing and deliberate, and were not committed by mistake, accident, or other innocent reason.” (page 10)

    These actions are portrayed elsewhere in the document as “conspiracy” and this specific, obviously I think, is crucial to the government’s shut-his-mouth objectives. The use of “or other innocent reason” is particularly tricky. Julian could agree to “not committed by mistake or accident,” but “innocent reason” includes exposing, whistle-blowing, and serving the public. This he did do and is his main rationale, so to deny having done so here assists the idea he was engaged in deliberate effort to do wrong/conspiracy.

    2) “As a result of this agreement, the Defendant will enter a plea of guilty prior to the commencement of trial, will truthfully admit his involvement in the offense and related conduct, and will not engage in conduct that is inconsistent with such acceptance of responsibility.” (page 12)

    This appears to be an attempt at a gag order and is even more tricky, unless it only applies to that moment Julian entered the court and pleaded guilty. More likely, it applies to future developments or “going forward” meaning he should not protest or criticize the plea agreement. This perhaps is why he did not attend the press conference yesterday. Did his wife Stella come close to criticizing the agreement by suggesting the dangerous precedent set and the need for reform? But this leaves a problem for Julian, should he be interviewed or asked to comment. How should he respond to avoid charges of violating the agreement and being at risk of further arrest and extradition to the US?

    I believe what we’re seeing here is equivalent to a chess match at stalemate. The kings are hopping back and forth but not willing to sacrifice a piece to launch a new attack. Julian perhaps could answer this way. “The facts are what they are, and according to them I admit to violating the law or what has been called conspiracy. At the same time I encourage investigation of what has happened, including into my guilt, and I will engage in this investigation also myself. The issue moves beyond myself as a single entity involved in what’s at stake and warrants further opinions, examination, and conclusions. That’s all I have to say.”

    Sky News on Stella et al but not Julian at news conference

    Summary of what was said plus additional information


  5. susan
    June 28, 2024 at 07:46

    Where is the mainstream in all of this? Sitting on their thumbs or badmouthing Julian – what a bunch of assholes! No wonder the American public is so dumbed down!

    • JonnyJames
      June 28, 2024 at 12:45

      The MassMediaCartel is too busy focusing on the Freak Show (aka DT/JB “debate:) and the superficial spectacle. That’s what they get paid for after all.

  6. June 27, 2024 at 16:26

    This is worse than having to confess to any crime.

    Whatever happened to the key to the insurance file?

  7. Linda in California
    June 27, 2024 at 15:38

    We can’t ask anything more of a man who’s sacrificed – for truth and justice – his freedom, trust in the ‘civilized’ western world, and his most fruitful years of professional and family life. Drink in the love and beauty around you, Julian. You deserve it at last.

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