Friday, December 10, 2010

Computerworld - Any attempt to criminally prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the ongoing disclosure of classified State Department cables will pose huge challenges for the U.S. government, according to a newly updated report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The 24-page report, released this week, examines the criminal statutes involved in the WikiLeaks case and how they might apply outside the U.S. The report concludes that at least some of the information released by WikiLeaks has national security implications and may indeed by covered under the Espionage Act and other criminal laws on the books.
Even so, actually prosecuting Assange for the disclosures would be unprecedented -- and challenging, the report said.

"We are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it," the report bluntly stated. Such an action would have First Amendment implications, and political ramifications "based on concerns about government censorship."

In addition, prosecuting a foreign national whose actions were conducted entirely overseas carries with it certain foreign policy implications and would raise questions related to extraterritorial jurisdiction, the CRS said in its report.

Details of the report were published Wednesday by Steven Aftergood on Secrecy News, a blog run by the FAS Project on Government Secrecy. The blog also posted a link to the CRS report


Hels said...

Assange is an Australian born, educated and employed citizen with all the rights of every other Australian citizen. In a recent poll of many thousands of educated Australians, 84% described Assange as a hero and 16% described him as a criminal.

marc aurel said...

I wonder what such a poll of Americans would produce. Here in Canada, we his supporters tend to feel as if we are in a minority, where the majority is hostile or indifferent.

Hels said...

It isn't just the Great Unwashed who are supporting open access to information via Wikileaks.

Australia's leading media people say the federal government's initial reaction to the release of diplomatic correspondence by the WikiLeaks website is "deeply troubling".

The nation's newspaper editors, along with television and radio directors, have written an open letter to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard in support of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

See The Sydney Morning Herald