Ethische Bedenken von US-Recht- und Staatsanwälten im Umgang mit LEAKS

Offenbar wird es bei Rechtsanwälten als unethisch angesehen, Dokumente die unabsichtlich geleakt wurden, auf kriminelle oder illegale Handlungen und Inhalte zu durchsuchen.

A 1995 opinion from the D.C. Bar says lawyers shouldn’t review privileged information that is turned over to them unintentionally.

„Where the receiving lawyer has not examined the misdirected material before gaining knowledge of the inadvertence of the disclosure, it is our opinion that the lawyer should, at a minimum, seek guidance from the sending lawyer and, if that lawyer confirms the inadvertence of the disclosure and requests return of the material, unread, the receiving lawyer should do so. In our view, a failure to do so would be a dishonest act, in violation of“ bar rules, the opinion said.

A Mossack Fonseca spokesman did not respond to an email seeking comment on whether the firm has asked the U.S. Justice Department to treat the records as privileged.

There are a variety of potential arguments that the privileges wouldn’t apply to some or all of the Panama Papers. Some courts have ruled that records that are „generally known“ lose their privilege. Others have held that the lawyers who were holding the records need to have taken reasonable precautions to keep them secret. And the privilege can sometimes be defeated if a client was using an attorney to further a crime.

There are also complex issues about what ethics rules or privilege laws apply to records sent from one country to another, as well as questions of what ethical strictures apply to Justice Department attorneys, lawyers said.

„You’d have to look at each particular country’s law,“ said New York attorney David Smallman, who wrote a 1997 law review article arguing that attorney-client privilege was not automatically waived when „purloined“ records were posted online. „It’s really tricky in this situation.“

Even if prosecutors conclude that some or all of the material isn’t privileged, they might seek a judge’s ruling or even a search warrant to look at it, to help defeat later arguments that the government went too far.

It’s also unclear whether the FBI or other U.S. agencies might need to review the records in order to investigate the hacking that allegedly led to their release. If they have a legitimate reason to do that, they might be able to act on evidence

So wurde auch Staatsangestellten mit Sicherheitsüberprüfung gesagt, dass sie nicht in die geleakten Dokumente bei Wikileaks reinschauen sollen!

Sie könnten sonst mehr wissen, als sie dürften?!?

While it may seem strange to tell U.S. government lawyers they can’t look at documents widely available on the Internet, it wouldn’t be the first time. Many federal employees and contractors with security clearances have been told not to look at classified documents posted online by WikiLeaks and from the stash of records taken by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

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