Charges versus Julian Assange prompt outcry from journalism, civil liberties groupsBy Blair Morris
June 18, 2019
Julian Assange has actually constantly been a lightning-rod for controversy, however the most recent charges against him have journalism guard dog groups weeping foul.
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Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was charged by U.S. authorities Thursday of breaking the Espionage Act. Now there’s an argument whether prosecutors can declare the exact same about journalists who release stories on state secrets.
The Department of Justice is defending he charges against Assange. According to Assistant Attorney General Of The United States for National Security John Demers, “Julian Assange is no journalist” and “the Department takes seriously the role of reporters and our democracy and we support it.”.
Journalism groups don’t seem to agree, nevertheless. Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Liberty of journalism, launched a declaration, arguing the charges might also be applied to reporters.
” Any government use of the Espionage Act to criminalize the receipt and publication of categorized info postures a dire danger to journalists looking for to publish such information in the public interest, irrespective of the Justice Department’s assertion that Assange is not a reporter,” Brown said in a declaration.
Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of non-profit PEN America, which describes itself as a group that safeguards and protects complimentary expression, called the indictment “unprecedented” and has “serious ramifications for a free press.”
” Whether Assange is a journalist or WikiLeaks qualifies as a press outlet is immaterial to the counts set out here,” Nossel stated in a declaration.
” The indictment encompasses a series of activities– including motivating sources verbally and in composing to leak information and getting and releasing such information– that media outlets routinely carry out as part of their function to hold federal government to account,” she said.
Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said the charges were “extraordinary.”.
” For the very first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of sincere details,” Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Innovation Project, stated in a statement.
” This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism and a direct attack on the First Change,” Wizner stated. “It establishes a hazardous precedent that can be utilized to target all wire service that hold the government responsible by releasing its secrets. And it is similarly harmful for U.S. journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations. If the US can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there’s absolutely nothing avoiding China, or Russia, from doing the very same.”.
Edward Snowden, the previous NSA professional who dripped categorized information and also deals with charges under the Espionage Act, weighed in on Twitter, recommending the charges against Assange were a statement of war.
” The Department of Justice simply stated war—- not on WikiLeaks, but on journalism itself. This is no longer about Julian Assange: This case will choose the future of media,” Snowden said in a tweet.