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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/10/21

Biden Continues Trump's War On The Press

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Just one day after a coalition of prominent civil rights groups made headlines -- with a letter urging the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges, the Biden administration has announced its intention to continue those efforts.

"Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday said the U.S. government will continue to challenge a British judge's ruling last month that Assange should not be extradited to the United States because of the risk he would commit suicide," Reuters reports.

"We continue to seek his extradition," Raimondi said.

If those who denounced Trump's attacks on press freedom actually meant what they said, they will be the first to denounce the Biden admin's decision to "continue" the most egregious and harmful one. Where are you at on this, @BernieSanders@AOC @NancyPelosi @SenSchumer? https://t.co/sOIxfEmESk

Aaron Mate' (@aaronjmate) February 9, 2021

Assange's arrest and subsequent charges under the Espionage Act in 2019 for what amounts to standard journalistic practices which exposed US war crimes marked both a dramatic escalation in the US empire's war on critical national security journalism and a sharp divergence from the Obama administration's decision not to pursue such charges in this case. Biden is not just upholding Trump's assault on press freedoms (far and away the single most egregious attack on journalism in the 45th president's entire four years in office), he is rejecting the Obama administration's decision not to charge Assange due to concerns that it would erode the First Amendment.

As The Washington Post reported during Barack Obama's second term in 2013:

"The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials."
...

"The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists," said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. "And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange."

Nothing about this has changed. The Trump administration did not have access to any evidence that the Obama administration did not also have in 2013 -- it just chose to squint at the law from a different angle and legally interpret Assange's journalistic activities as a violation of the Espionage Act. There is nothing whatsoever preventing other journalists around the world from facing the same fate under similarly dubious legal interpretations. The US Department of Justice is not going to be using other people's personal definitions of what constitutes legitimate journalistic activity going forward, it's going to be using its own.

As the Obama DOJ Concluded, Prosecution of Julian Assange For Publishing Documents Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom https://t.co/iyZMRhSu0Q

Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 16, 2018

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Caitlin Johnstone is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician. Rogue journalist, poet, illustrator, utopia prepper, and proudly 100 percent reader-funded through Patreon (more...)
 

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