Julian Assange has used WikiLeaks to release thousands of diplomatic cables to newspapers in various countries. Some of the cables reveal truths about politics and the American government that were previously secrets. Will America’s freedom of speech laws protect Assange, or will our government attempt to extradite him, press charges against him or even try to assassinate him?
There is an enormous uproar over the classified documents that WikiLeaks has made public. Opinions vary greatly, as some people call Assange a hero, some call him a villain, some call him a journalist and others call him a terrorist.
Assange was labeled a “high tech terrorist” by Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, notes TIME. McConnell wants the leader of WikiLeaks prosecuted. Eric Holder, Attorney General, wants Mr. Assange prosecuted too, announcing that he’s hard at work to find a way to bring charges against Assange for the dissemination of information contained in the diplomatic cables.
Espionage Charges Against Julian Assange?
The government is considering going after Assange for espionage or possibly even charges for obtaining stolen property. The charge of espionage does involve the death penalty. Sweden may not release Assange to the USA if the death penalty is is possible against him here.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Philip J. Crowledy, chief State Department spokesperson, said “The provision of 250,000 classified documents from someone inside the government to someone outside the government is a crime.”
If Assange is prosecuted, how will that impact freedom of information laws in America? Americans may revolt if the First Amendment is flouted to arrest Mr. Assange. WikiLeaks did not directly steal the information in the diplomatic cables; it merely released the information to newspapers to publish the cables and bring a lot of truth to the world.
Is it possible for America to prove that Assange in some way aided Bradley Manning in obtaining the information? Manning allegedly downloaded the classified documents while an active duty soldier for the American military. He then released the documents and video to WikiLeaks. Manning has been charged with the offense of downloading military combat video, notes the Washington Post.
If the government could prove that Assange helped Manning plan or activate the download of the classified documents, that would make it easier for the government to arrest Assange, as it has already done to Manning. Will the Espionage Act be used to try to build a case against Manning or Assange?
Senator Lieberman Says WikiLeaks “Violated Espionage Act”
Senator Joe Lieberman, who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, wants newspapers, such as the New York Times, to also be investigated for publishing information from WikiLeaks.
Lieberman stated, “I certainly believe that WikiLeaks has violated the Espionage Act. But then what about news organization that accepted it and distributed it?” reports TIME.
America has a long history of documents leaked to send a message at a time of war or a heated political arena. The Pentagon Papers and Watergate are times when America learned suddenly that leaders do not always reveal the truth to the public, and that sometimes devious measures are in play over wars and politics.
The American government is under siege by WikiLeaks. Only time will tell what kind of action the government will take against him and what public opinion will have to say about that effort.
Video of Robert Gates Discussing Julian Assange
To see a Washington Post video of Defense Secretary Robert Gates talking about Julian Assange, go HERE.
Los Angeles Times