Assange faces possible US indictment

Plus: rival site to WikiLeaks set to launch on Monday.

In a report from ABC News, Julian Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson has said that Assange could face indictment by the US authorities under the Espionage Act.

Robinson said: "Our position of course is that we don't believe it applies to Mr Assange, and that in any event he's entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of WikiLeaks. And any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organisations in the US."

Meanwhile, protests have been planned around the world in defence of Assange, who is still in detention at Wandsworth Prison in London. Demonstrations calling for his release are happening today in Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Peru.

In yet another twist to the story, the LA Times reported yesterday that a rival to WikiLeaks, OpenLeaks, is due to launch on Monday. The site is run by original WikiLeaks staff members who resigned because of Assange's controversial methods. The crucial difference between the two organisations is that OpenLeaks will not publish information on its own, but will only make it available for others to publish.

In a statement, OpenLeaks organisers said their purpose was to be "without a political agenda except from the dissemination of information to the media, the public, non-profit organisations, trade and union organisations and other participating groups".

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

#Match4Lara
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#Match4Lara: Lara has found her match, but the search for mixed-race donors isn't over

A UK blood cancer charity has seen an "unprecedented spike" in donors from mixed race and ethnic minority backgrounds since the campaign started. 

Lara Casalotti, the 24-year-old known round the world for her family's race to find her a stem cell donor, has found her match. As long as all goes ahead as planned, she will undergo a transplant in March.

Casalotti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December, and doctors predicted that she would need a stem cell transplant by April. As I wrote a few weeks ago, her Thai-Italian heritage was a stumbling block, both thanks to biology (successful donors tend to fit your racial profile), and the fact that mixed-race people only make up around 3 per cent of international stem cell registries. The number of non-mixed minorities is also relatively low. 

That's why Casalotti's family launched a high profile campaign in the US, Thailand, Italy and the US to encourage more people - especially those from mixed or minority backgrounds - to register. It worked: the family estimates that upwards of 20,000 people have signed up through the campaign in less than a month.

Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity, also reported an "unprecedented spike" of donors from black, Asian, ethcnic minority or mixed race backgrounds. At certain points in the campaign over half of those signing up were from these groups, the highest proportion ever seen by the charity. 

Interestingly, it's not particularly likely that the campaign found Casalotti her match. Patient confidentiality regulations protect the nationality and identity of the donor, but Emily Rosselli from Anthony Nolan tells me that most patients don't find their donors through individual campaigns: 

 It’s usually unlikely that an individual finds their own match through their own campaign purely because there are tens of thousands of tissue types out there and hundreds of people around the world joining donor registers every day (which currently stand at 26 million).

Though we can't know for sure, it's more likely that Casalotti's campaign will help scores of people from these backgrounds in future, as it has (and may continue to) increased donations from much-needed groups. To that end, the Match4Lara campaign is continuing: the family has said that drives and events over the next few weeks will go ahead. 

You can sign up to the registry in your country via the Match4Lara website here.

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.