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An unprecedented attack on free speech and the free press is afoot, as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charges Julian Assange with espionage over leaked documents published on WikiLeaks. This is "the first time in the history of our country [that] the government has brought criminal charges under the Espionage Act against a publisher for the publication of truthful information," warns the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The Espionage Act is typically used to punish the leakers themselves, people like Edward Snowden, Reality Winner, and most recently Daniel Hale," noted Reason's Scott Shackford last night. This prosecution extends the law's reach.
Some have expressed a little schadenfreude to see Assange, an alleged Trump supporter, get screwed over by Trump's administration. But as journalist Adam Serwer points out, this isn't necessarily about Assange so much as "establishing a precedent that can be used to prosecute journalists for doing their jobs and publishing information that embarrasses the government or exposes wrongdoing."
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, calls the prosecution a "threat to all journalists everywhere who publish information that governments would like to keep secret."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) says he is "extremely concerned about the precedent this may set and potential dangers to the work of journalists and the First Amendment."
Recently in @CJR I argued that the prosecution of leakers represents a much greater threat to #pressfreedom than Trump's angry rhetoric. The #Assange indictment drives this point home. https://t.co/ut1O5UeBNc
— Joel Simon (@Joelcpj) May 24, 2019
Everyone listen to Naomi Wolf realize on live radio that the historical thesis of the book she's there to promote is based on her misunderstanding a legal term pic.twitter.com/a3tB77g3c1
— Edmund Hochreiter (@thymetikon) May 23, 2019
This is nothing. In the 1990's she wrote a book claiming 150,000 American women were dying every year from anorexia. The real number is in the dozens.
— Akiva Goldfinch (@crankynotions) May 24, 2019
Mueller's report describes a consistent effort by the president to use his office to obstruct or otherwise corruptly impede the Russian election interference investigation because it put his interests at risk.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 23, 2019
:: a deep sigh emerges :: pic.twitter.com/1mjG2y6uLC
— Jane Coaston (@cjane87) May 23, 2019
I wrote about one of the roots of the "End Demand" narrative - a fear of cross-racial mixing https://t.co/BxhL7yP0Z4
— Kate (@KateDAdamo) May 23, 2019
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COMMENTS VIA TWITTER
#JulianAssange will be extradited to the US. He argued he is a political targeting as a journalist. His first indic… https://t.co/mxsNTatfEy
RT @BellaMagnani: This is great. @FAIRmediawatch: "When US DoJ predictably superseded its initial indictment of #Assange, charging him with…
RT @RachelMayDay: It's time to start protesting for Julian Assange here in the United States.I think the best place to start is the United…
RT @mayawiley: #JulianAssange will be extradited to the US. He argued he is a political targeting as a journalist. His first indictment all…
RT @couragefound: 6 months ago, Julian Assange was arrested. Since then his worst fears have been confirmed as he’s been accused of 17 char…