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posted by martyb on Friday May 24 2019, @11:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the One-man-takes-on-US-Government;-who-will-prevail? dept.

Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader, has been indicted on 17 new counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the Justice Department announced on Thursday — a novel case that raises profound First Amendment issues.

The new charges were part of a superseding indictment obtained by the Trump administration that significantly expanded the legal case against Mr. Assange, who is already fighting extradition proceedings in London based on an earlier hacking-related count brought by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia.

[...] On its face, the Espionage Act could also be used to prosecute reporters who publish government secrets. But many legal scholars believe that prosecuting people for acts related to receiving and publishing information would violate the First Amendment.

That notion has never been tested in court, however, because until now the government has never brought such charges. The closest it came was indicting two lobbyists for a pro-Israel group in 2005 who received classified information about American policy toward Iran and passed it on. But that case fell apart after several skeptical pretrial rulings by a judge, and the charges were dropped.

Though he is not a conventional journalist, much of what Mr. Assange does at WikiLeaks is difficult to distinguish in a legally meaningful way from what traditional news organizations like The New York Times do: seek and publish information that officials want to be secret, including classified national security matters, and take steps to protect the confidentiality of sources.

Also at BBC, CNBC, USA Today, and Reuters

Previously: Inadvertent Court Filing Suggests that the U.S. DoJ is Preparing to Indict Julian Assange
U.S. Ramping Up Probe Against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Says
Wikileaks Co-Founder Julian Assange Arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
Julian Assange Sentenced to 50 Weeks in Prison for Bail Breach
Swedish Prosecutor to Reopen Julian Assange Investigation


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  • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday May 24 2019, @06:09PM (2 children)

    by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday May 24 2019, @06:09PM (#847246) Journal

    Nice dichotomy. Either Assange deserves to be prosecuted or he does not. Either what Assange did is espionage or it is not. You're trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    By charging him with a crime which can invoke the death penalty they made it very much harder to get him extradited even by England (which would have to be assured that the death penalty would not be sought nor carried out) let alone Sweden. Given the President's stance on not liking to be pushed around I'm hoping he'd explicitly order that no such assurance be made.

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24 2019, @08:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24 2019, @08:00PM (#847325)

    Either Assange deserves to be prosecuted or he does not. Either what Assange did is espionage or it is not.

    He absolutely deserves to be prosecuted. BUT NOT FOR THE ACTIONS HE'S BEEN CHARGED WITH.
    Capiche?

    Furthermore, he will not be charged for the actions that legitimately deserve prosecution, because shining a spotlight on those actions would be highly embarrassing to the authoritarians currently in power.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Friday May 24 2019, @09:19PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday May 24 2019, @09:19PM (#847365) Journal

    The latest charges carry 10 years per charge. No death penalty.

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