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Does the Julian Assange Indictment Threaten Freedom of the Press?
May 28, 2019 at 01:09 AM
Photo by Espen Moe

The Quick Facts

  • Last Thursday, the U.S. filed new charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified documents containing the names of confidential military and diplomatic sources.
  • Previously, Assange had been charged with conspiring with intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a government computer, a relatively minor crime. The new charges supercede that original indictment, and are much stronger.
  • The new 18-count indictment alleges that Assange directed Manning to steal government documents, and damaged national security by publishing the documents, harming the U.S. and its allies.
  • The indictment has raised First Amendment concerns, and Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said Thursday that the “unprecedented charges imperil all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have been taken by the U.S. government.”
  • Assange is currently in custody in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. He has said he will fight any effort to extradite him to the U.S.

Food For Thought

Is the government violating First Amendment protections by charging Julian Assange under the Espionage Act? Does this case represent a threat to all journalists?

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