The Forgotten Story of the Julian Assange of the 1970sBreaking News
tags: CIA, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange
If Julian Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he’ll likely face criminal charges in the United States. We know this thanks to an inadvertent disclosure in a federal court filing—the result of a cut-and-paste blunder by prosecutors.
That the Justice Department is preparing charges against the WikiLeaks founder isn’t exactly unexpected—he did, after all, publish thousands of classified government documents, and allegedly has close ties to Russian intelligence (which Assange has repeatedly denied). But what is genuinely surprising is the degree to which the case against Assange mirrors a long-forgotten episode four decades ago—and what that portends for the inevitable First Amendment clash it will cause.
It may not be possible—and the Trump administration may not be interested in trying—to pinpoint specific types of disclosures as criminal without eroding the free speech protections that American journalism relies on to hold government accountable. Depending on the charges against Assange, the case could require the government to distinguish between the lawful reporting of information in the public interest and the illegal theft and dissemination of government secrets, between the legitimate practice of journalism and criminal activities that advance the goals of democracy’s enemies.
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