Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

As the Obama DOJ Concluded, Prosecution of Julian Assange for Publishing Documents Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom

By       Message Glenn Greenwald       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 3   Well Said 1   News 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 11/17/18

Author 4807
Become a Fan
  (151 fans)
From youtube.com: Sealed U.S. indictment for Julian Assange accidentally made public? According to a report by Reuters, on Friday, US prosecutors are preparing a criminal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. {MID-326230}
Sealed U.S. indictment for Julian Assange accidentally made public? According to a report by Reuters, on Friday, US prosecutors are preparing a criminal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
(Image by YouTube, Channel: The Oregonian)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

THE TRUMP JUSTICE DEPARTMENT inadvertently revealed in a court filing that it has charged Julian Assange in a sealed indictment. The disclosure occurred through a remarkably amateurish cutting-and-pasting error in which prosecutors unintentionally used secret language from Assange's sealed charges in a document filed in an unrelated case. Although the document does not specify which charges have been filed against Assange, the Wall Street Journal reported that "they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information."

Over the last two years, journalists and others have melodramatically claimed that press freedoms were being assaulted by the Trump administration due to trivial acts such as the President spouting adolescent insults on Twitter at Chuck Todd and Wolf Blitzer or banning Jim Acosta from White House press conferences due to his refusal to stop preening for a few minutes so as to allow other journalists to ask questions. Meanwhile, actual and real threats to press freedoms that began with the Obama DOJ and have escalated with the Trump DOJ -- such as aggressive attempts to unearth and prosecute sources -- have gone largely ignored if not applauded.

But prosecuting Assange and/or WikiLeaks for publishing classified documents would be in an entirely different universe of press freedom threats. Reporting on the secret acts of government officials or powerful financial actors -- including by publishing documents taken without authorization -- is at the core of investigative journalism. From the Pentagon Papers to the Panama Papers to the Snowden disclosures to publication of Trump's tax returns to the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, some of the most important journalism over the last several decades has occurred because it is legal and constitutional to publish secret documents even if the sources of those documents obtained them through illicit or even illegal means.

The Obama DOJ -- despite launching notoriously aggressive attacks on press freedoms -- recognized this critical principle when it came to WikiLeaks. It spent years exploring whether it could criminally charge Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing classified information. It ultimately decided it would not do so, and could not do so, consistent with the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment. After all, the Obama DOJ concluded, such a prosecution would pose a severe threat to press freedom because there would be no way to prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents without also prosecuting the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and others for doing exactly the same thing.

- Advertisement -

As the Washington Post put it in 2013 when it explained the Obama DOJ's decision not to prosecute Assange:

"Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a 'New York Times problem.' If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper."


(Image by Intercept)   Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

Last year, the Trump DOJ under Jeff Sessions, and the CIA under Mike Pompeo, began aggressively vowing to do what the Obama DOJ refused to do -- namely, prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents. Pompeo, as CIA Director, delivered one of the creepiest and most anti-press-freedom speeches heard in years, vowing that "we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us," adding that WikiLeaks has "pretended that America's First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice," but: "they may have believed that, but they are wrong."

Go to The Intercept to read this entire article.

 

- Advertisement -

Must Read 3   Well Said 1   News 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place (more...)
 

Glenn Greenwald Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system

US investigates possible WikiLeaks leaker for "communicating with the enemy"

Prosecution of Anonymous activists highlights war for Internet control

The myth of Obama's "blunders" and "weakness"

The Remarkable, Unfathomable Ignorance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz

4 quick points about the MSNBC discussion

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

No comments