A Department of Justice press release confirmed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted for normal journalistic activities.
“The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications,” the DOJ said.
But Assange did not actually hack anything. He simply had contact with Manning – a source – and asked Manning to provide him with the classified intel.
“During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange,” the release said. “The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information.”
This is normal activity for a journalist. By these standards, any reporter who has ever worked with a source to obtain classified government intel could be charged with some sort of dubious “conspiracy.”
Glenn Greenwald, a world-renowned journalist who worked with CIA whistleblower to Edward Snowden to expose the breadth of the American surveillance state, noted this.
“The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it’s the criminalization of journalism,” he said on Twitter.
The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it's the criminalization of journalism pic.twitter.com/GXNjWlkFZw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 11, 2019
Assange faces up to five years in prison if convicted on the conspiracy charge. It is unclear whether he will face further charges once he is extradited to the United States.
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