Putting more pressure on the UK to extradite Assange
Thursday, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified information obtained from Chelsea Manning (whose 35-year sentence was commuted by President Obama).
From the New York Times:
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader, has been indicted on 17 new counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and 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 an expanded indictment obtained by the Trump administration that significantly raised the stakes of 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.
The secret documents that Mr. Assange published were provided by the former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was convicted at a court-martial trial in 2013 of leaking the records. The indictment accuses Mr. Assange of complicity in Ms. Manning’s leaks, saying he solicited unauthorized disclosures of classified information and encouraged her over several months.
Justice Department officials sought to minimize the constitutional implications of the new indictment. They noted in a briefing with reporters that most of the new charges against Mr. Assange were related to his obtaining of the archives of documents, as opposed to their publication.
The three charges that squarely addressed Mr. Assange’s publication of government secrets were focused on a handful of files that contained the names of people who had provided information to the United States in dangerous places like the Afghanistan and Iraq war zones, and authoritarian states like China, Iran, and Syria.
But the officials would not engage with questions about how the actions they said were felonies by Mr. Assange differed from ordinary investigative journalism. Notably, The New York Times, among many other news organizations, obtained precisely the same archives of documents from WikiLeaks, without authorization from the government.
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