WikiLeaks

The Prosecution of Julian Assange Is an Assault on the First Amendment

Though journalists tend to despise the WikiLeaks founder, his fate could impact the future of their profession.

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Some establishment journalists in the U.S. consider Julian Assange to be a criminal whose work doesn't fit into the same category as their own.

In April 2019, police dragged the WikiLeaks founder out of the Ecuadorian embassy where he'd lived for seven years after the U.S. government indicted him for allegedly helping Chelsea Manning access government databases. The New York Times editorial board applauded the move, writing that it "could help draw a sharp line between legitimate journalism and dangerous cybercrime," and that, "The [Trump] administration has begun well by charging Mr. Assange with an indisputable crime."

"Julian Assange is not a free-press hero," The Washington Post editorial board opined, "And he is long overdue for personal accountability."

Then in May 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed a second set of charges against Assange that, if they were to result in a conviction, could set a dangerous legal precedent that would put all investigative journalists who expose state secrets at risk of going to prison. Whether the media considers Assange one of their own, his fate could have a profound impact on the future of their profession.

The DOJ charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 by publishing the information leaked by Chelsea Manning. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.

Edward Snowden, a former government contractor, has also been charged under the Espionage Act for leaking information to the media, which is how it's more commonly used. What's different about Assange's case is that the government is claiming that an individual unaffiliated with the government is guilty of a criminal violation for seeking out and publishing classified information, which is exactly what journalists do on a routine basis.

Even many of his biggest media critics are concerned by the additional charges.

"The Trump administration has just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange's side of the ledger, which, I know, is unimaginable," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said on her show after the government revealed the Espionage Act charges. A little more than a month earlier, Maddow had devoted a segment to explaining why Assange's alleged offer to assist Chelsea Manning in cracking a password violated the rules of journalism.

"Really anybody who is concerned about press freedom should be deeply concerned about the prosecution of Julian Assange by the Trump administration," says Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder Trevor Timm, who testified in Assange's U.K. extradition hearing. He says that Assange's conviction under the Espionage Act would set a precedent that could endanger any journalist publishing leaked information about the U.S. government.

"Maybe [some] journalists don't like Julian Assange, or they have criticized…his actions over the years. And that's all well and good, but what really matters [are] the acts which the Justice Department is trying to criminalize here," says Timm.

Timm says that a journalist like Bob Woodward, who's made a career publishing government secrets, would be endangered by such a precedent, pointing to Woodward's 2011 book Obama's Wars as an example. "[That book] is page after page of highly classified information…basically the most sensitive information that you could possibly imagine at a far higher classification level than anything WikiLeaks published."

Even the Watergate stories that Woodward published for the Washington Post with Carl Bernstein might be illegal if the Assange standard were applied, argues Timm, because Woodward and Bernstein sought out secret information from grand jurors during their reporting.

"Richard Nixon may never have had to resign," says Timm. "And [Woodward and Bernstein] quite possibly could have gone to jail."

The government claims that WikiLeaks crossed a legal line by posting a list of "Most Wanted" classified documents and providing the encrypted dropbox that Manning would use to submit the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs. But Timm says this too is standard journalistic practice.

"Major newspapers around the country and around the world are constantly asking sources to leak them information," says Timm, who points out that the New York Times took out a full-page advertisement for their SecureDrop box soliciting submissions, and that Timm himself published an article in the Guardian asking for leakers to release the classified CIA torture report in 2014.

One of the key accusations in the case against Assange is that he violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by allegedly offering to help Chelsea Manning crack a password to a government database in an effort to cover her tracks.

On this count, many journalists have sided squarely with the government. But Timm says there's not much to the charge, and that it's not even clear Manning ever successfully cracked the password.

"I think this charge is potentially a sideshow trying to convince the judge that Assange is some sort of hacker and that [his case] doesn't relate to journalism," says Timm. 

While recognizing that Assange's case is vital to the cause of press freedom, many journalists have treated him with disdain, often portraying his years-long confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy as "self-imposed," a ploy to dodge sex crime charges in Sweden, which were dropped in November 2019.

Assange defended himself by claiming his reason for seeking asylum wasn't to avoid facing the sex crime charges but to avoid extradition to the U.S. where he would be indicted on Espionage Act charges that would seek to deny him First Amendment protections—a prediction that's been borne out.

The years of confinement have taken a toll on his mental and physical health. In 2018, doctors determined that Assange's condition was deteriorating after years of confinement and asked that he be allowed safe passage to a hospital. That request was denied.

In 2019, Nils Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, described the conditions Assange has been subjected to as "psychological torture."

A decade ago, Assange was well-regarded in establishment circles. The standing ovation he received at a 2010 TED Talk is inconceivable today.

Assange created WikiLeaks in 2006 and leaked documents about the inner workings of Guantanamo Bay, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's emails, and bank fraud in Iceland.

The organization first grabbed widespread public attention with a video WikiLeaks would title "Collateral Murder." It showed footage from a U.S. Army Apache helicopter of soldiers gunning down more than a dozen people in Baghdad who weren't engaged in active combat, including two Reuters reporters.

The video generated international press and controversy. Assange told journalist John Pilger in 2010 that his intention in releasing the video was to expose to the American public "the 'another day at the office' [attitude of the soldiers], how routine it was."

The Iraq war logs, which followed, was the largest military leak in history, revealing that more than 15,000 civilian deaths hadn't been publicly reported. And it exposed the fact that the US military had ignored reports of torture, rape, and murder by Iraqi authorities and soldiers.

Then in November 2010, there was a leak of more than 3 million U.S. diplomatic cables, revealing corruption among various Arab governments, which helped inspire the Tunisian revolution that began the Arab Spring.

WikiLeaks also released thousands of pages of both CIA and Russian state surveillance techniques, exposed Saudi support for ISIS and undisclosed U.S. training of soldiers in Yemen, and helped provide Edward Snowden safe passage out of Hong Kong.

Assange says his guiding principle has been to grant regular citizens access to the information that powerful governments, corporations, and media gatekeepers wanted nobody to see.

"Someone's right to speak and someone's right to know create a right to communicate," Assange told Democracy Now journalist Amy Goodman at the Frontline Club in July 2011. "That is the grounding structure for all that we treasure about civilized life."

The 2016 leaks, which were damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, found Assange new allies on the political right and new critics on the left. Now–President Donald Trump declared, "I love WikiLeaks!" in October 2016, and MSNBC host Chris Matthews wondered in April 2019 whether Robert Mueller's report might reveal Assange to be a Russian intelligence asset.

But Assange, who once said he viewed the choice between Clinton and Trump as a choice between cholera and gonorrhea and who denies any connection to the Russian government, maintains that his commitment is to bringing to light true information regardless of which political regime it might damage.

"[WikiLeaks believes] that the best kind of government comes from a government that is scrutinized by the people when they have true information about how governments and corporations and other power actors in society actually behave," Assange told Fox News' Sean Hannity in January 2017.

Timm says WikiLeaks' early work, which went a long way towards revealing the nature of 21st century American warfare and surveillance and exposing corrupt authoritarian governments, is what even those who dislike Assange should remember as he faces life in prison.

"[WikiLeaks] did a lot of good for the world, especially in their early days when they were releasing all sorts of really important stories and really important investigations. I think people kind of forget because their mind is clouded by 2016," says Timm. 

Assange remains in a London prison, confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, according to WikiLeaks Editor in Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson.

He's awaiting a ruling from the British extradition court, which is scheduled for January 4. Government whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, John Kiriakou, and William Binney, along with more than 7,600 co-signers to an open letter, have called for Trump to drop all charges.

Throughout his career, however, Assange has been cynical about the notion that the democratic and judicial process can truly constrain government power and protect individual rights. People need to take matters into their own hands and protect themselves using encryption and other freedom-preserving tools.

"We will end up in a global, totalitarian surveillance society," Assange said on a 2012 episode of his online show. "Perhaps there will just be the last free-living people—those people who understand how to use cryptography to defend themselves against this complete, total surveillance."

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Opening graphic by Lex Villena

Photos: Tolga Akmen/ZUMA Press/Newscom; JAE/WENN/Newscom; Ray Tang/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Mark Chew/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Dinendra Haria/ZUMA Press/Newscom; MAAA/ZDS/Wheatley/WENN/Newscom; Ole Spata/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom; Andrew Parsons/i-Images / Polaris/Newscom; Dominic Lipinski/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Richard Ellis/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; John Barrett/PHOTOlink.net PHOTOlink/Newscom; Mark Makela/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; GARY CAMERON/Reuters/Newscom; Michal Fludra/ZUMA Press/Newscom; National News/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Euan Cherry/Photoshot/Newscom; Simon Webster/Atlas Photo Archive/Photoshot/Newscom;  Victoria Jones/ZUMA Press/Newscom; News Licensing / MEGA / Newscom; tHuman Rights Watch/EyePress EPN/Newscom; DDAA/ZOB/WENN/Newscom; Chris Winter/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Andrew Parsons/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Jay Shaw Baker/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Steve Maisey/Photoshot/Newscom.

Music: "Reel," Melancholy," "Singularity," "Days Pass," and "Fall" by ANBR licensed through Artlist.io. 

NEXT: The Inmates Are Running Venezuela’s Prisons. They've Created Autonomous Micro-Dictatorships.

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    2. I’d say both apply:

      1) Assange is not a US citizen. Therefore he doesn't have a right to the 1st amendment. The US constitution is our constitution, not his.

      2) Assange is not a US citizen. Therefore he is not subject to US law. Therefore, he can publish whatever the hell he wants to.

      1. Can you show me where in the 1st amendment that it talks about citizenship being a qualification? Most of the Bill of Rights just talk about what the Federal Government ISN’T allowed to do. There is some discussion of the Right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government which could be interpreted as citizens and residents, but that is clearly separated from ”

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”

        This myth that the Bill of Rights only applies to people in the US is a trash mentality. The rights are human rights we get by being alive. It doesn’t matter where we live or what flag we fly, the US government is not allowed to infringe those rights.

        As for being subject to US law, I agree, he was outside of the US jurisdiction when supposed crimes occurred. However that is where the murky hacking laws come into play. If a Russian hacker steals a Million Dollars from me, without ever setting foot on US soil, should there be no way to prosecute him?

        1. He did not steal anything, he reported what he was told by whistle blowers. The US was killing civilians in Iraq, war crimes, and didn’t want their citizens to know about it. Some soldiers are not cold blooded killers and wanted their citizen to known what their government was doing. What he did was no different than the Watergate Papers during the Vietnam era.

          A former KGB officer said they knew just about everything the US was up to. He stated, the only reason why the US kept so many documents secret was to make sure their own citizens didn’t know what the US government was doing. There are millions of documents classified as secret. Why? Because the US government doesn’t want you to know anything….just keep watching dancing withe stars, the voice or football or some other junk reality show. They learned their lesson during the Vietnam era. Informed people ask questions and they do protest when the government does bad stuff, like killing innocent civilians.

          1. If it was simply Manning turning classified information over to Assange unsolicited, he (Assange) would be in the clear.

            However, Assange has been accused of actually helping Manning access classified information that manning was not authorized to access. The first amendment does not protect that.

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        2. The Bill of Rights is a reminder (and a promise) that Congress (and the states by extension under the 14th Amendment) won’t violate basic human rights. Citizenship is irrelevant.

          1. Unless there’s a “pandemic”

        3. ” If a Russian hacker steals a Million Dollars from me, without ever setting foot on US soil, should there be no way to prosecute him?”

          If a CIA analyst receives Russian state secrets from a Russian citizen, without ever setting foot on US soil, should there be a way for the Russians to prosecute him?

      2. >>1) Assange is not a US citizen. Therefore he doesn’t have a right to the 1st amendment. The US constitution is our constitution, not his.//

        1st and 3rd sentences correct, but not your conclusion. 1A requires no citizenship test. Foreign nationals on US soil also have 1A rights on US soil, which is the only place the Constitution has any protection. There are 1A exceptions such as “yelling fire in a crowded theater”, but the burden to prove one of those exceptions is on the government, and it’s a hard thing… by design. I think most competent criminal attorneys would love to defend against a case such as this. Almost every major publication in the world has printed information that isn’t much different than what Assange published, but just not as much, not as thoroughly embarrassing to the wrong people, and not in this kind of volume.

        >>2) Assange is not a US citizen. Therefore he is not subject to US law. Therefore, he can publish whatever the hell he wants to. //

        The conclusion in your second sentence is not true on its face. You are confusing different kinds of jurisdiction of which there are five… Territoriality, Nationality, Passive Personality, Protective Principle, Universality. The US in this case is asserting “Protective Principle”, as is done when an action threatens the security of the state or the operation of its government, within or outside its boundaries.

        I’m not saying that Assange fits that bill because I don’t think he does. It’s just what the US is claiming and threatening the security of the state can hold a very wide variety of interpretations.

        1. Aside from the jurisdiction issue, Assange is not being prosecuted just for publishing classified information he received unsolicited.

          He is accused of actively helping Manning obtain additional classified information beyond what Manning had access to as part of his job with the government.

          If that accusation is true, that is something for which, even for a US citizen journalist inside the US, the first amendment would not be a defense.

      3. not a US citizen. Therefore he doesn’t have a right

        The constitution doesn’t create the right to freedom of speech and the press, it forbids the US government form violating those rights, and they don’t get a pass if the people they’re fucking with aren’t US citizens.

        -jcr

        1. The charges against him are for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and obtaining classified information. One can debate whether those should be crimes, but where do you see the 1A violation?

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  3. Though journalists tend to despise the WikiLeaks founder, his fate could impact the future of their profession.

    Any journalist that produced information damaging to Hillary Clinton is no friend of journalism. To be sure.

    1. My only sadness is Youtube won’t let stories like these on their site anymore with their new terms of service.

      Assange helped sabotage U.S. election, remember?

      I read Jonathan David Farley’s commentary and was struck by his obviously intentional omissions concerning Julian Assange’s complicity with the Russian assault on the American electoral system in 2016. Perhaps prior to the 2016 presidential campaign an opinion piece like Mr. Farley’s could have had some basis to argue that Mr. Assange had some small redeeming value. Post 2016, this article reads like old news.

      Every United States intelligence agency has concluded that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange worked hand-in-hand with the Russians as they interfered in our 2016 election.

      1. It’s funny that the “journalist” in this story cites sources that have already admitted to making up their stories

        1. Election fraud from Russia flipped the 2016 election. Fact.

          1. “Mostly True”

            1. According to “mostly peaceful” rioters.

          2. Bullshit. Trump won in 2016 because the Democrats nominated the worst possible candidate they could.

            -jcr

        2. The web page is a reader’s response, not an article.

      2. I remember when the Left didn’t openly express how much of a bunch of jock-sniffers it was for intel agencies.

        1. Here’s the way I see it. Trump made enemies out of the intel community not because of ideology but because of corruption. Trump was fucking dirty and entangled with foreign corrupt schemes and thus Trump to attack the intel community. If Trump had robbed a bank the lies would have been about bankers and banks but Trump didn’t rob a bank he colluded with our enemies so Trump had to make enemies out of the people who are tasked with policing foreign plots. Because of these lies and the motive behind them, Democrats, whatever their opinions on the specifics of the intel community, were naturally going to defend the intel community because they were being attacked dishonestly.

          1. “thus Trump had to attack”

          2. Here’s the way I see it. Trump made enemies out of the intel community not because of ideology but because of corruption.

            That’s false on its face. The intel community didn’t like Trump before he was in office, which is why they concocted the laughable Steele Dossier. They didn’t like him because he represented a threat to their ongoing operations– he was a candidate who was clearly “outside of normal parameters”, threatening to devolve our presents in various foreign countries, draining the swamp.

            Whatever you think of Trump’s governing, he did not walk like a beltway insider, talk like one, act like one, or come through the proper channels to get there. The intel community was scared to death of Trump because he was going to be a bull in the CIAs covert chinashop.

            1. What exactly did Trump reform? He only attacked them in the context of accusations that were personal to him and he otherwise showed money on the military complex

              1. That’s not the question, the question is what the intelligence community feared he would reform. The mere threat of pulling out of Afghanistan, and/or not getting involved in Syria sent the Democrats into paroxysms of panic.

                Here’s NPR on Trumps ‘shakeup’ of the military and intelligence community:

                In the aftermath of the election, “President Trump and those loyal to him started to sow chaos and division,” said Rep. Adam Smith, the Washington Democrat who heads the House Armed Services Committee. He called on Trump to stop “firing or forcing out national security professionals,” adding that the next two months could be “precarious at best and downright dangerous at worst.”

                So yeeaaaahhhh… they were plenty scared of his actions on the ground.

                Whatever you do, don’t touch the swamp. You can preach hope, change, massive changes to welfare, healthcare, even shut down an entire nation… but don’t you dare fucking touch the swamp.

                1. And Trump people who were personally loyal to him above all else, ideology, competency.

                  1. ^the voice of deep state cock gobbling

                    The only question is: Which staff member is he?

                2. the question is what the intelligence community feared he would reform.

                  ^ This. Or even just not actively help cover up.

            2. The intel community did not concoct the Steele dossier, which was almost entirely a fabrication. It was claimed by the super-honest media that Steele consulted intel community sources in compiling it, but that was also false. I think the conversation went something like:

              Wapo, NYT: Where you get this sensational information?
              Steele: The intel community.
              Wapo, NYT: Really?
              Steele: Scout’s honor.
              Wapo, NYT: Ok guys, we’ve got corroboration, let’s roll.

          3. Hillary Clinton was neck deep in foreign intrigue and pay-to-play schemes through the Clinton Foundation, with various foreign government officials and actors as active donors…

            The CIA doesn’t look at that kind of thing and say, “whoa… corruption! No can do HIllary!” They look at that kind of thing as an asset… tangled up with foreign dignitaries, agents and governments is an opportunity for leverage. The shit is chess, not checkers.

            1. The shit is chess, not checkers.

              One might even say chess is itself a simplified reduction of what this is.

            2. “They look at that kind of thing as an asset”

              If by ‘asset’ you mean ‘mechanism for gaining filthy lucre’ then yes, you are spot on.

            3. Hillary Clinton definitely broke the U.S. Espionage Act when she permitted classified emails, many of them Top Secret, to be sent over her private email server. Many of these were sent to individuals who did not have the required clearance. Obama’s Justice Department called her actions “extremely careless” and decided not to prosecute her.

              1. “To lose one classified E-mail, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose more looks like carelessness.”

          4. seems like you have it backwards. the deep state was concerned that an outsider might uncover their corruption or put a stop to it. so they surveilled him and made stuff up about him, with Dems in Congress seizing on it to try to oust him.

        2. Yeah, but that was before committed authoritarian leftists such as Brennan, Comey and Clapper and their minions were put in charge and can run political interference for them. Just where are these “50 former intelligence” people who said the whole Hunter Biden thing was Russian disinformation? Back in their respective holes, not to emerge again unless leftists need another Russia boogeyman.

    2. Well because he is doing the work that they won’t. Which is journalism, as opposed to uncritically printing CIA talking points and propaganda.

      But the money is in the latter – Rachel Maddow doesn’t make $30K a day because she threatens the status quo…

  4. Oh good we’re now using the assault on the first amendment argument on a foreign national who stole stuff.

    Any guesses when koch reason will argue the 2nd amendment only applies to the national guard. I figure they are leaning in along with the aclu seeing where the real power lies.

    1. Nationality is irrelevant to first amendment questions. It’s a limitation on what laws there can be. I’m not sure why you think taking a broader view of the first would indicate a narrower view of the second. And Reason is pretty consistently good on guns.

      1. “Nationality is irrelevant…”

        Stealing, meanwhile, is not. That ‘s why we doubt Reason’s bona fides.

    2. Fuck off – he stole nothing – he published it.

      Dumb motherfucker…

  5. My only reservation and I probably would not prosecute them is the way Assange presented the ill gotten information. It’s one thing if your motive is neutral truth telling. I can live with that but if you’re playing politics with the hacked info then I’m less sympathetic and more suspicious. I especially didn’t like the way Assange lied about the source of his information. Assange was playing up the Seth Rich slander and just was an overall lying mfer. Why not keep your mouth shut if telling the truth is too much for you?

    1. It’s one thing if your motive is neutral truth telling. I can live with that but if you’re playing politics with the hacked info then I’m less sympathetic and more suspicious.

      Is that the political speech exception of the first amendment?

      1. It’s the “the lines aren’t clear and maybe you shouldn’t openly antagonize the people who draw those lines” consideration. It also calls into question exactly how deeply involved you are with the clearly criminal part of the hack and dumb operation.

        1. Dump not dumb

        2. “It’s the “the lines aren’t clear and maybe you shouldn’t openly antagonize the people who draw those lines” consideration. ”

          Ahhh…cower to the state. Got it.

        3. The benefit of the doubt should not be given to the line drawer. Certainly not in a free society.

          1. no shit. wtf is wrong with this guy

            1. The arguments against civil liberties are the biggest issue.

    2. You have no proof that Assange lied about anything that is only your opinion

  6. Sorry, but his prosecution is of no risk to American journalists. We have, what, 2 or 3 of them and they are widely loathed already?

    I mean, we have James O’Keefe and the press hates him TOO.

    1. Investigative journalism is nearly dead in America and it’s a real shame. “Journalism” as we know it today consists mostly of findings things someone says on Twitter and opining about it.

      1. Spot on. Checking Twitter is the extent of any worn shoe leather for 99% of journalists quoting other journalists.

  7. Lost me at “MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow”.

    1. Same here. Scrolled to the comments.

  8. Assange should have been honest and said yes somebody committed crimes and violated people’s privacy to get us this information and some of this information is probably not even true was mixed in with legitimate info but we’re publishing it nonetheless. Instead he played along with liars and made himself an accomplice to a forgen govt’s scheme to play favorites with a scumbag politician.

    1. Why should he have been asked?

      Nobody seemed bothered about somebody stealing Trump’s tax info.

      All he did was leak info about a non-government entity and an individual that made them look like the shit bricks that they were.

      1. He didn’t just leak it. He used it to attack the Democrats and then he lied about parts of it to further slanderize the Democrats. It was personal for Assange. It was not about truth telling.

        1. And attacking Democrats is the real crime here. Thanks for the confirmation.

          1. I’m the Democrats. I don’t kindly to mfers working with criminals and fascist govts to rat fuck the candidates who represent me. Maybe you understand that?

            1. We understand that you are the Democrats, yes.

              It’s also very telling that your opinion regarding what should be legal vs. what should be prosecuted seems to depend on which side it favors or hurts politically.

            2. ….but leaking info to harm Trump was OK and peachy. Got it.

            3. Dude, if you are a Democrat you absolutely depend on govt rat-fuckery 24-7, and it is an absolute hoot that you don’t know you are in the back seat of a bus driven by apparently victorious mfers right now! Just exactly where on earth have you been for more than four years – airport lounges watching the paid-for-by-CNN feed?

              My resentment of a party which fucked the country for years because Shakes Clinton lost, tops your complaining about how they talked nasty about her … unless … HRC, is that you?

            4. It was clear that this was about your in-group and nothing else from the get-go.

        2. The less said about Chelsea Manning the better.

          1. Manning should have been prosecuted because (s)he took an oath to protect this information and broke it purposefully.

            Assange, I’m not a big fan of, but he’s not under US jurisdiction as far as I’m concerned. He didn’t violate any contract or promise.

            1. The oath to the constitution trumps the oath to the military industrial complex.

              1. Manning’s data dumps were recklessly haphazard, not specifically intended to forward any particular argument or concern.

        3. “He didn’t just leak it. He used it to attack the Democrats”

          How is using their own words “attacking” them? Seems like stenography at worst.

        4. Jesus Christ, you really are just a partisan shill.

    2. Assange should have been honest and said yes somebody committed crimes and violated people’s privacy to get us this information and some of this information is probably not even true was mixed in with legitimate info but we’re publishing it nonetheless. Instead he played along with liars and made himself an accomplice to a forgen govt’s scheme to play favorites with a scumbag politician.

      It’s Assange’s fault for not elevating the ethics and perception of his field of fellow unscrupulous shitbags. He deserves to have his 1A rights violated for such treachery.

    3. Again – you are a dumb motherfucker.

      A boot-licking dumb motherfucker. A John Brennan, James Clapper salad-tossing dumb motherfucker.

      Wikileaks has never had to retract a single thing they have ever published.

    4. In the immortal words of Hans Solo, “it’s all true. all of it.”

  9. Like the prosecution of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for their undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood was an attack on the 1st Amendment?

    1. Apparently not given that the people behind it seem to be the VP elect and a contender for AG.

      Dems, remember, dislike punishing journalists.

    2. Behind every apparent double standard is a single standard.

      That Reason goes to bat for only one tells you they are in bed with the other.

  10. “Maybe [some] journalists don’t like Julian Assange, or they have criticized…his actions over the years. And that’s all well and good, but what really matters [are] the acts which the Justice Department is trying to criminalize here,” says Timm.

    Journalists hate Assange because he embarrassed the LightBringer and later Herself. Now Timm is trying to parse reality so he can blame Trump while still defending Democrats. All this is Assange’s fault anyway. If he had released the original material while Bush was still President journalists would have supported him from the beginning.

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  12. Lockdowns and mask mandates are also an assault on the 1st amendment, yet you shill for them.

  13. I think most Journalist are already a part of the government hence their hatred of Assange why we now have Biden and it will only get worse

    1. Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

      In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

      Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

      The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

      and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

      The media is now almost entirely public relations and/or interference for the this (somewhat) scientific- (mostly) technological elite. Government is mostly their handmaid (and revolving door for select members of the media.)

      1. That’s Ike BTW. It’s the part of his famous speech that the media likes to ignore.

        Can’t imagine why.

  14. >> Some establishment journalists in the U.S. consider Julian Assange to be a criminal

    I mean if WaPo says so…

  15. While we should be experiencing a time of unprecedented personal communication and resulting transparency.

    We are seeing the establishment class of liars coerce the media to more censorship than anytime in history.

    You are starring in the tragedy you’re complacently watching.

    “Julian Assange is not a free-press hero,”

    He is exactly a free speech hero.

    1. He’s a MacGuffin.

      1. Free speech is not irrelevant.

        1. Free speech is not irrelevant.

          Declaring Julian Assange’s situation to be one about free speech makes you irrelevant.

          1. No, being a holocaust denier makes him irrelevant.

            This is a pretty mild take for him. It’s a good thing Assange isn’t a ‘dirty jew’.

            1. Are you the shlomo whose gramps wrote a book illustrated with pictures of shirtless Jews dragging bodies from the gas chambers to the ovens?

              You dumb fucks don’t know that cyanide is absorbed through the skin and lying shlomo senior would have been dead in hours.

              When a fundamental necessity of a narrative is proven to be complete bullshit, the entire narrative is false.

              You are irrelevant.

            2. Your entire Jewish victim mentality identities are predicated on being the greatest victims of all time.

              Free speech has demonstrated you to be nothing more than lying Kol Nidre losers.

            3. Here’s physical evidence of the lying Jewish victim identity.

              Officially claiming 6 million pathetic Jewish victims hundreds of times since 1890.

              Did you know jews claimed a holocaust in WW1 as well?

              http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/08/10/the-six-million-figure-another-holocaust-lie-and-the-lying-liars-who-enable-it/

              1. Hey Rob, do you think the vocal Jew-hate helps or hurts your cause? Hint: not the former.

                1. Hatred is denial of truth.

                  I’ve shared the truth that you can’t refute.

                  Instead, you simply deny it.

                  As you refuse to consider my irrefutable argument you simply demonstrate your own bigotry.

                  You are irrelevant.

    2. Julian Assange is not a free-press hero

      It is moral madness to assert this.

  16. Bullshit from start to finish….. Assange is a fucking traitor and deserves to rot in the seventh circle of hell. He is no more a free speech hero than Strom Thurmond was.

    Enjoy prison, you piece of shit.

    1. Fuck you, you worthless piece of shit.

      Assange exposed US war crimes. That is what they are trying to get him on.

      Of course, that is an extension of the Hillary server shit, but that is not what he is under show trial for.

      You’d have made a great Stasi informant, you slaver piece of garbage.

    2. Assange is a fucking traitor

      You can’t be a “traitor” to a nation state of which you are not a citizen.

      1. This is one major reason why I don’t think he should be prosecuted.

  17. Piss-poor article, it presented no arguments as to why Assange should be exempt from prosecution. However, I do not think he should be prosecuted for publishing the info. If he undertook some action which on its own violated the law then perhaps he should answer for that. But merely publishing the information that someone handed to him, even if he goaded them into it, is probably not a good prosecution.

    1. However, I do acknowledge that Assange has a highly punchable face.

    2. There are multiple sentences in the article that assert the arguments as to why Assange should be exempt from prosecution. Read harder.

    3. Violated “the law”? The whole planet has “a law”? Pay closer attention.

  18. Wow. I figured since Assange pissed of both the left and right, that people in the comments would be a fan. I may not like what he did when he released the DNC stuff, but I do believe in free speech, even when the case gets murky. The irony is Trump administration loved Assange before the Chelsea Manning debacle and afterward they completely flipped their viewpoint, and that is why Trump’s DOJ prosecuted Assange. All Manning did was point out that the President was lying. Shocking! Ironically, under the Biden administration, Assange is still screwed because Biden is going to get him for releasing the DNC stuff. Which just shows me how wicked this all is. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats care about free speech, they just care about being embarrassed and are going to jail this guy in revenge. Sad.

    1. I may not like what he did when he released the DNC stuff

      why the FUCK would you not like that?

      1. Yes, some people reveal preferences when they think they’re being innocuous.

  19. Shush. Don’t alert them. I would be delighted if the New York Times was prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage act.

    1. Nah, never happen – they’re in “The Club” – their propaganda value is way too high. Every now again they do something to give a thin veneer of legitimacy.

  20. If Trump pardoned Assange, Snowden, and Manning it would legitimize his whole failed presidency. The best fuck you that he could deliver to the Deep State and the Intelligence Community.

    It would be fun watching Hillary, Brennan, and Clapper choke on their bile.

    1. it’s my greatest political hope right now (beside ending the drug war and public school) that he does this. let’s hope.

      1. He could deschedule marijuana in the same news conference on January 19th and fly out on Marine 1 like a boss.

  21. The USA had led the entire world in imprisonment per capita(and associated surveillance), ever since Nixon kicked off mass incarceration in the 60s. That was an immediate backlash against Civil Rights. How the heck does Assange get to the front of the line ahead of all these massive human rights violations?

    1. Partly because they are murdering him right out in public. And partly because if they successfully make an example of him, any shreds of investigative journalism die, with the stamp of approval on those masquerading as journalists.

      In which case, we might as well be living under the propagandists of the USSR, GDR, Mao, or Himmler. There is an awful lot riding on this, and the deafening silence of the MSM tells you all you need to know.

  22. How does the US govt have any juristdiction whatsoever over any action of Assange?

    The answer is that the US govt is itself a criminal organization

  23. As for me, I know very little about Assange. I don’t know if he is an idiot or a genius. I know next to nothing about his politics. I don’t care whether some consider him a “traitor” or “bad journalist” or a “fool.”

    But I am very pleased that the information he had collected actually got out to where the people could see it for themselves. The politicians and lawmakers shouldn’t be the ones making the decision as to what information we have access. I mean, isn’t that the purpose of the 1st Amendment?

    1. You just answered your own uncertainties in your second paragraph.

      The US government lies on the regular and then tries to cop the attitude that they hold the moral high ground. Akin to $5 hooker claiming they are chaste.

      1. I have held the belief for years that the most serious challenges to our “Freedoms” come from our own government.

      2. Chaste? … I mean, man, what’s the point of chastity if going to the “hooker”?

        I think you may mean, “disease-free.”

        1. No, I meant some prostitute who takes pipe by the yard every day but claims she is chaste. So it is with our government; they do one thing and say another.

          1. I suppose she can state a “being of chastity” if she feels that the issue has never been decided contrary to her own input in the matter. Officially — she be chaste unless the court tries her with requisite cards of justice to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt her qualification. But off the books, she takes it by the yard. And if any would say her unborn child could be chaste, then why not her, too??

  24. If he had only found dirt on Trump, he’d have been declared a national hero long ago.

    1. That’s absolutely true, and it’s a sad indictment of what our press has become. There are very few journalists interested in the truth any more, they’re all partisan hacks sucking up to power, thrilled to be invited to the right cocktail parties where they can pretend they’re part of the inside crowd.

    2. Well, he’s been holed up since 2012, at which time Trump was nothing more than a celebrity game show clown.

      Come to think of it, that’s all he is now.

      But that was good enough to defeat Hillary…that’s how spectacularly shitty of a sub-human she is.

      If there are 2 videos I could see made public in my life, #1 would be the Epstein tapes going public so we could clean house on all these scum, and the other would be a video of that cunt as it dawned on her that she was going to lose to an unread political novice in Trump – I bet that was fucking priceless.

  25. Bogus!

    First, if Assange hails from a government that the USA is not at war with, then this were peace-time, and he has the same rights as you or I do. Which does not mean that the same law necessarily applies in deciding whether to detain or arrest someone. But that at trial-time, the same rights mean the same things. IMHO.

    Second, it doesn’t matter where the information came from but rather what it were doing, setting there. Incriminating information may be published anywhere on the Web, but why is this a problem? And when information incriminates yet without, or prior to trial, it does not make anyone guilty — only suspect — because it is no better than information.

    Journalists automatically perceive information as lingua franca of the reporting realm, but they do generally know enough to question it’s authenticity. Wikileaks takes power away from media inasmuch as any breaking news material made available freely takes the air out of the media circus balloon as information that could had been mutually beneficial, IMO, available solely from one news outlet. They enjoy that right, too, and only an opportunity to see a rival news source thoroughly driven out of business.

    You don’t have to shout beneath a snow-plumed mountain to see that there was initially a person who gave the information to the Wikipedia public. We do not need to know who not why for Assange’s trial; media benefits from all the good it does apart from any of the bad that can be supposed!! But if you should go from news source to news source supposing only the bad that the freedom of press generates, then I think you would miss out on the benefits of a free press.

  26. Posting is pointless, but I saw this article in the emails you send me.
    Assange should be brought here, he played an active role is electing trumpland, he exposed classified US secrets, he is a f*cking punk. If tried and convicted, his actions were during war time, thus he should be executed for committing acts of treason against the US in war time. Plain and simple.

    1. Plain and simple to the deluded, I guess. Or the stupid. Or the boot-licking.

      He can’t commit treason against a country where he is not a citizen. He is not being tried for Killary’s server, he is being tried for exposing US war crimes.

      Facts are such a bitch.

      PS – “wartime” is now a constant in the USA; it’s ALWAYS wartime…or haven’t you noticed?

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  30. I don’t know all the details of the case. From what I know it appears Julian exposed the US government and now they are going after him. I’m siding with Julian from the information I’ve read and watched. In my opinion, the US government isn’t representing the people properly.

  31. The cancel culture at the highest level.

    How can anyone rationally address anything if telling the truth about it is illegal?

    Censoring truth is a crime against humanity.

    Every living thing on earth evolves by recognizing reality and modifying their behaviour to work with it.

    Truth is reality. Any censorship of it, even inadvertently, inhibits our ability to evolve.

    Are you just going to abdicate your responsibility to recognize reality?

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