Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why the U.S. Has a Weak Legal Case Against WikiLeaks' Assange

I've previously written about how the US stands a poor chance to get Julian Assange and WikiLeaks sentenced for anything in an American court. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that the first amendment to the American constitution offers the press freedom to publish. Time's Michael A. Lindenberger supports this view in a blog post he wrote today:

Putting someone like Assange in jail for publishing documents he did not himself steal, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of thing that First Amendment makes difficult. "From everything we've seen, [Manning] was merely responding to the notion that Assange might publish the cables," former CIA inspector general Frederick P. Hitz told TIME. "There's nothing to show that Assange played an active role in obtaining the information." He conceded that the leaks had been tremendously damaging, but added "I don't see any easy effort there" in pursuing charges.

Holder has said the government will explore whether Assange could be charged with a form of theft since the records had been stolen, though such a course is fraught will obstacles, given that the files are digital copies of government records. Holder said too the government will consider whether Assange might be guilty of conspiring somehow with Manning, or went beyond the traditional role of publisher by acting as a kind of broker in dissemenating the files to newspapers around the world. What worries famed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams is that if the government stretches to get around the Constitution to charge Assange, it may end up damaging the press freedoms enjoyed by every publisher.

This mirrors several posts I've previously made on this blog.

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