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 [nytimes.com] brought by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia.
[...] Legal scholars believe that prosecuting reporters over their work would violate the First Amendment, but the prospect has not yet been tested in court because the government had never charged a journalist under the Espionage Act.
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.
Previously: Inadvertent Court Filing Suggests that the U.S. DoJ is Preparing to Indict Julian Assange [soylentnews.org]
U.S. Ramping Up Probe Against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Says [soylentnews.org]
Wikileaks Co-Founder Julian Assange Arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London [soylentnews.org]
Julian Assange Sentenced to 50 Weeks in Prison for Bail Breach [soylentnews.org]
Swedish Prosecutor to Reopen Julian Assange Investigation [soylentnews.org]