Even in Defeat, the DOJ Is Petty Regarding Assange

by Kevin Jon Heller

According to the Washington Post, the Department of Justice has essentially decided against trying to prosecute Julian Assange for publishing the Chelsea Manning documents:

The officials stressed that a formal decision has not been made, and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impaneled, but they said there is little possibility of bringing a case against Assange, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top-secret military and diplomatic documents.

The Obama administration has charged government employees and contractors who leak classified information — such as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning — with violations of the Espionage Act. But officials said that although Assange published classified documents, he did not leak them, something they said significantly affects their legal analysis.

“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”

If true, this is very good news indeed. Some of us have been pointing out for a very long time that if publishing classified documents is espionage, Bill Keller deserves to be in the dock just as much as Julian Assange.

Note, though, the clear distinction the DOJ spokesman draws between Julian Assange and “journalists.” Assange is no less a journalist than Mark Mazzetti — and a far better one than, say, Judith Miller. To claim otherwise is just petty.


One Response

  1. Every day when I log into my computer at work, it reminds me of the Official Secrets Acts. Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 covers this exact case:

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