Silk Road Lawyer to Defend WikiLeaks against DNC Lawsuit

The high-profile lawyer who represented Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is set to defend WikiLeaks against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

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Closeup of WikiLeaks website website under a magnifying glass. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information
The New York lawyer who represented Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht has signed on to defend WikiLeaks against a Democratic National Committee lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) regarding Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Attorney Joshua Dratel notified the Manhattan judge who is overseeing the lawsuit that he would be WikiLeaks’ legal representative.

Who Is Joshua Dratel?

WikiLeaks tweeted the New York attorney’s notice to the court. The organization also posted a statement fromDratel saying that the DNC lawsuit against WikiLeaks lacks merit and it presents crucial issues concerning the First Amendment that the defense will be seeking to litigate.

Dratel has become well known as a representative for high-profile defendants in complex federal cases such as terrorism prosecutions.

Dratel was the first civilian attorney to represent a Guantanamo Bay prisoner. However, he is best known for representing Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder and operator of the infamous dark web market Silk Road.

Allegations Against WikiLeaks

Six months ago, DNC Chair Tom Perez announced the 66-page civil lawsuit, which sues the Russian government, Donald Trump’s campaign and operatives, WikiLeaks and founding editor Julian Assange.

According to the lawsuit, the DNC alleges that leading Trump campaign officials were involved in a conspiracy with the Russian government to hurt presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and sway the election in favor of Trump. This was achieved through the hacking of Democratic Party systems.

Russian intelligence agency GRU has been identified publicly as the actor behind the DNC intrusion.

In July 2016, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails which were stolen from the DNC breach. At the time, then-candidate Trump actively praised WikiLeaks during his campaign rallies and on Twitter. Donald Trump Jr., who is also named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit, promoted the leaks via Twitter while carrying out private communication with Assange.

The DNC stated that WikiLeaks published the stolen material with the knowledge that the act would benefit the Russian government, Russian agents and Russian instrumentalities.

The lawsuit added that WikiLeaks’ and Assange’s goals were to promote Trump by undermining Clinton.

According to the DNC, Clinton and Assange have a long history of policy disagreements. They argue that this means the WikiLeaks founder would have preferred a Trump presidency since it would be less problematic for the organization.

Aim of the DNC Lawsuit

An concept Image of a lawsuit
The high-profile lawyer who represented Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is set to defend WikiLeaks against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

The other defendants in the DNC’s lawsuit include campaign staff or Trump advisors including Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Roger Stone. It is worth noting that President Donald Trump himself is not a defendant in the case.

The aim of the lawsuit is seeking compensation for the damages and losses the DNC suffered as a result of the intrusion and leaks. The amount of compensation at play is unspecified, although it can easily be in the millions.

The investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 election led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still ongoing.

Joshua Dratel is defending WikiLeaks but has not signed on to representing Julian Assange.