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US Justice department releases new sections of Russia report

Aditya Sharma
November 3, 2020

New sections of the Mueller report related to WikiLeaks and former Trump advisor Roger Stone have been unredacted. The special counsel team said WikiLeaks communicated with the Russian spy agency "via encrypted chats."

USA Aussage des Ex-Sonderermittler Mueller vor dem US-Kongress
Image: Reuters/J. Ernst

The US Justice Department on Monday released previously redacted sections of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, a privacy group and a Buzzfeed reporter revealed on Monday.

The sections, published on the eve of the US election, explain why the special counsel's office did not charge WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange, or Roger Stone, a former adviser and longtime ally of US President Donald Trump.

According to documents shared by Buzzfeed reporter Jason Leopold and nonprofit research center Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Mueller's office did not charge WikiLeaks, Assange, or Roger with "computer-intrusion conspiracy" due to lack of sufficient "admissible evidence" to secure a conviction.

Read moreRussia attacks 'groundless' US election claims

However, the special counsel's team said that communication between WikiLeaks and officers of the GRU, Russia's main spy agency, took place "via encrypted chats."

"The lack of visibility into the contents of these communications would hinder the Office's ability to prove that WikiLeaks was aware of and intended to join the criminal venture comprised of the GRU hackers," according to the report's newly released sections.

Mueller's office could not charge Stone for "some of the same legal reasons."

His team could not "prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stone knew or believed that the computer intrusions were ongoing at the time he ostensibly encouraged or coordinated the publication of the Podesta emails," the report said.

Read moreUS Supreme Court blocks disclosure of Russia report material

It further added that any prosecution would run into constitutional issues if the parties claimed protection under the First Amendment, which ensures freedom of press.

The latest revelations are part of EPIC and Leopold's lawsuits under the US Freedom of Information act (FOIA).

The disclosures were deemed necessary after a US judge determined that US Attorney General William Barr's redactions to the report were "self-serving," EPIC said in a statement.

While the investigation by Mueller had found multiple links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, his report, first published in April 2019, stopped short of establishing that the Trump team conspired with Russia to influence the election. 

Trump has frequently characterized the investigation as a "witch-hunt" by his Democratic rivals.