The Espionage Act & the 4th Year of Assange’s Arrest

From its earliest years the United States has found ways to deny the rights of a free press when it was politically expedient to do so.

One of the latest ways was to arrest WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange four years ago today and to indict him — the first time a publisher and journalist has ever been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act for possessing and publishing state secrets.

Though two U.S. administrations came close to punishing journalists for revealing defense information, they both failed, until Assange.

A major hurdle for the government is overcoming the conflict between the Espionage Act and the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing any law, including the Act, that abridges press freedom.

Until that legal conflict is resolved in court, resulting in parts of the Espionage Act being found unconstitutional, the language of the Act threatening press freedom remains.

Bolstered by 1950 amendments to the Actthe Donald Trump administration crossed a redline to arrest a journalist. A 1961 amendment made it possible to indict a non-U.S. citizen, acting outside U.S. territory.

The Trump administration’s first indictment of a publisher opened an alarming precedent for the future of journalism.

Keep reading

Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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