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Freedom of the press and the case against Julian Assange, explained



But some press freedom advocates say they are still worried. First, the Ministry of Justice could file a bill of indictment, so there is no guarantee that the Spionage Act will be excluded from the case. However, in extradition proceedings, all additional fees would most likely have to be paid shortly – before Britain decides whether custody of Mr Assange should be transferred.

For another, the prosecution quoted details that go beyond a narrow focus on unlocking the passcode sounded like typical activities of a journalist. For example, the indictment deals with attempts to hide conversations by using a special chat service and deleting certain chat logs. It also says that Mr. Assange has taken a step to help Ms. Manning send him the files by creating a special folder for them to upload files.

And he cites an alleged exchange midway through Ms. Manning's leaks, in which she wrote, "After this upload, that's all I really have left," but Mr. Assange replied, "Curious eyes become my experience after never dried out. " Several weeks later, Ms. Manning copied the indictment and sent the diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks

The inclusion of these procedural details by the Department of Justice was a concern, said Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

"The Justice Department's indictment and press release deal with everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal plot," he said. "It remains to be seen whether the government will be able to establish a violation of the Hacking Statute Indictments lead to activities that are not only legal but indispensable for press freedom – activities such as swelling sources and protecting sources from sources and securely communicating with sources. "

That would not be easy.

The Espionage Act does not cover the disclosure of unclassified e-mails, such as the Democratic News, so prosecutors need to formulate a theory that violates another law. Even if they could find one, the Supreme Court ruled in a 2001 ruling that the First Amendment did not allow prosecutors to charge anyone with an offense for publishing or broadcasting information, as long as no law violated the acquisition, even if the source she provided has done something illegal to get her.

No one has suggested that the Russians need or need assistance from Mr Assange in hacking Democrat emails. And Mr. Assange denied knowing who his source was; At that time, Russian military intelligence agencies created the fictitious online personality of a hacker who called himself Guccifer 2.0 to spread information and make the files public, though evidence that it was most likely a front for Russian intelligence services was widely discussed.


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