Assange Arrest, Wikileaks, Media, Government Abuse

created Apr 12, 2019

Government overreach arrested Assange yesterday. I accumulated a few links and thoughts on the subject.

"Julian Assange arrested in London (" - nearly 1000 comments

Julian Assange Indictment (2018) (

About 10 years ago, the media and liberals loved Assange and Wikileaks for publishing info about the U.S. military and about communications between or about countries (the cables). Back then, the conservatives hated Assange and Wikileaks. I think that some U.S. republicans called Assange a terrorist.

Over the past few years, the sentiment has shifted. Liberals hate Assange and Wikileaks while conservatives love Assange and Wikileaks.

Let's see if the media, including Margaret Sullivan, speak out against this abuse of power by multiple governments. Because if this behavior is acceptable among the UK and the US, then that precedence can be used to jail journalists in the future.

I imagine some in the media will twist this around, implying that Wikileaks and Assange are not the media and not a journalist and that typical protections that currently exist for journalists do not apply to Assange.

The NY Times and Guardian participated in the big Wikileaks dump about the U.S. military that occurred early this decade.

The only journalist that I trust, regarding coverage of our national politics is Glenn Greenwald. I'll be interesting to hear and read his thoughts.

Julian Assange arrested for alleged breach of bail and in connection to a US extradition warrant as Ecuador withdraws asylum after seven years

Breach of bail? Sounds like a stretch.

Joshua Benton / Nieman Lab: Is Julian Assange's arrest a threat to press freedom or an appropriate response to hacking?
Lenn Moreno / @lenin: In a sovereign decision Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols. #EcuadorSoberano
New York Times: Julian Assange Charged by U.S. With Conspiracy to Hack a Government Computer
BBC: Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London
@wikileaks: URGENT: Ecuador has illigally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago. ...
James Hohmann / Washington Post: The Daily 202: Julian Assange's arrest is another aftershock of the 2016 election
Lawfare: What to Look for in Possible Assange Charges
Freddy Mayhew / Press Gazette: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrested by police after Ecuador withdraws asylum
Kevin Poulsen / The Daily Beast: Why Ecuador Finally Got Sick of Julian Assange and Ended His Refuge at the Embassy in London
Christopher Zara / Fast Company: What is Ruptly? Julian Assange arrest video footage raises eyebrows about RT-owned outlet
Jon Allsop / Columbia Journalism Review: Julian Assange is arrested in London
Adam Tinworth / One Man & His Blog: As Julian Assange is arrested, the questions posed by Wikileaks remain as pressing as ever
U.S. Department of Justice: Julian Assange charged with hacking conspiracy for assisting Chelsea Manning in her attempt to crack a US DoD password to download classified records
Matt Lee / @apdiplowriter: LONDON (AP) — Julian Assange's attorney says he's been arrested on #US extradition request as well as for breaching #UK bail conditions.
Barnaby Nerberka / @barnabynerberka: BREAK: Full @Ruptly video of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's arrest by British police this morning
Andrew Prokop / Vox: Julian Assange was just expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy and arrested by British police
John Eggerton / Multichannel News: Assange Arrested in London
Edward Snowden / @snowden: Images of Ecuador's ambassador inviting the UK's secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of—like it or not—award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.
Thom Geier / The Wrap: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested in London
Mynewsdesk: Arrest update - SW1
Molly Olmstead / Slate: Julian Assange Arrested in London, Faces Extradition to U.S. in Connection With Leak of Iraq War Secrets
Hadas Gold / @hadas_gold: Wikileaks editor in chief says during press conference it's a “dark day for journalism.”
Kayla / Media Matters for America: NBC reporter Ken Dilanian repeatedly misgenders Chelsea Manning while reporting on the indictment of Julian Assange
David Meyer / Fortune: What Happens Now that Wikileaks' Julian Assange Has Been Arrested—Twice
Vera Bergengruen / @verambergen: Ecuador's foreign minister Jose Valencia announcing that Assange's Ecuadorian citizenship has been suspended. He was granted citizenship in Dec. 2017, in an attempt to get him out of the embassy by giving him a diplomatic post that'd give him immunity
Colin Lecher / The Verge: Read the United States' indictment against Julian Assange
Sajid Javid / @sajidjavid: Nearly 7yrs after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law
Aidan McLaughlin / Mediaite: ‘The Greatest Traitor’ in Ecuadorian History: Ex-President Blasts Successor Over Assange's Arrest
Evie Fordham / The Daily Caller: Judge Sets Date For Julian Assange Extradition Hearing
Eric Abent / SlashGear: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange has been arrested
Hadas Gold / @hadas_gold: DETAILS ON HOW ASSANGE WAS ARRESTED as relayed in court, via @muhammadakd: Officers arrived at the embassy 9:15am and met with the ambassador, who then revoked Assange's asylum....
Adam Rasmi / Quartz: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy
Jamie Timson / The Week: Why Julian Assange has been arrested
Charles Arthur / @charlesarthur: While disliking Assange's behaviour, I can't see Wikileaks is doing anything here that journalists on many outlets aren't. Remember, those emails were then eagerly re-used by media. (Another case in point: Sony Pictures emails, by NKorea.) Wikileaks doesn't hack. It publishes.
@metpoliceuk: Julian Assange has been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service
Chris O'Brien / VentureBeat: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested by police in London, faces computer hacking charges in U.S.
RT Uk / @rtuknews: “I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behaviour of Julian Assange...has led to the situation where asylum is unsustainable and no longer viable” President of Ecuador @Lenin released this video at the same time as the @wikileaks founder was arrested in London.
Kim Dotcom / @kimdotcom: BREAKING NEWS Julian Assange has just been arrested by UK Police inside the Ecuadorian embassy. They removed him from the embassy into a police van. Our fight for his freedom kicks into high gear. We must protect truth-tellers or we may never learn the truth again. #FreeAssange
Steve Dent / Engadget: Julian Assange is facing extradition to the US following arrest (update)
Jon Porter / The Verge: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested by British police
Yanis Varoufakis / @yanisvaroufakis: Julian is in custody for breaching bail conditions imposed over a warrant that was... rescinded. Anyone else would be fined & released. Except that JA's persecution is all about challenging our right to know about the crimes governments commit in our name.

This was not written by Greenwald.

One irony of Democrats cheering the indictment of Assange is that the Obama DOJ concluded it couldn't do it without endangering press freedoms, while this was a top priority of the most reactionary Trump officials (Pompeo, Sessions) from the start:

When Wikileaks published Podesta/Hillary emails, the media seemed to be more upset with how the emails were obtained, instead of investigating what the emails exposed, which was Bernie Sanders was right that the democrat sham primary was rigged for Hillary before it began.

That's why the DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned. That's why CNN fired Donna Brazile. But no way did the rigged democrat primary of 2015-2016 start and end with only those two people.

The media failed to do its job and uncover the truth. How many people were involved with the democrat primary rigging?

From a few minutes ago:

NPR bizarrely seems to have deleted their own lie-filled interview with me and replaced it with something else, even as it still promotes the page as including its interview of me. Where is it, @MorningEdition?

From Greenwald's earlier tweet about the NPR interview:

I enjoyed it too. NPR chose to lie to its audience by introducing me as "a colleague of Julian Assange" even though I never worked with Assange or WikiLeaks in my life, but did what all other journalists have done: reported on them & their publications. Went downhill from there:

Wow. What's with NPR's malfunction with committing journalistic malpractice? I donate money to our public radio station. Maybe I need to rethink my contributions if that kind of infantile journalism continues.

Here's the extremely contentious interview I did with @NPR this morning on @MorningEdition about the Assange arrest, which became contentious at the start because NPR weirdly lied by introducing me as a "colleague of Julian Assange" - starts at 3:32

NPR commits journalistic malpractice and it's response is to delete the interview. ???

Here's the NPR "Morning Editor" story that contains interviews with multiple people, but the interview with Greenwald has been deleted. WTF???

I listened to the entire 11-plus minute audio, and one of the interviewees discussed what Glenn said earlier on NPR. But where's the part of the interview with Glenn?

Good to see one NBC/MSNBC journalist recognizing the dangers of what's being done to Assange. That he's one of the few to have studied constitutional law and the First Amendment is not a coincidence. The indictment undeniably includes core journalist/source interactions:

Glenn has produced great content on his Twitter feed, and he has shared great content from others. Finally, a good use for Twitter. Here are few of the tweets.

The Obama DOJ concluded that prosecuting WikiLeaks and Assange for publishing documents would pose a grave threat to press freedom… - Dems who spent 2 years feigning concerns over press freedom but who now cheer the Trump DOJ for this are beneath contempt:

This from @Guardian reporter @ewenmacaskill is critical. Note Obama DOJ looked but found no evidence that Assange worked with Manning, but even if he had, journalists often work with sources. Still a huge threat to press freedom, as @dankennedy_nu argued

back to Glenn's tweets:

Arresting Assange and destroying WikiLeaks was a top priority for the most reactionary elements of the Trump administration from the start. Both Jeff Sessions & Mike Pompeo vowed do this to put an end to reporting. They were explicit about this:

If you're cheering Assange's arrest based on a US extradition request, your allies in your celebration are the most extremist elements of the Trump administration, whose primary and explicit goal is to criminalize reporting on classified docs & punish WL for exposing war crimes.

Obama DOJ tried to concoct a theory to justify arresting Assange for more than merely publishing docs: such as claiming he aided Manning in the the theft of docs. They found no evidence for it. Trump DOJ will likely manufacture some falsehood to claim it's more than publishing.

Here's a 2013 WPost article explaining why Obama DOJ - not exactly a vigorous defender of press freedoms - concluded that prosecuting WL & Assange would pose a serious threat to press freedom. How could you also not prosecute NYT & Guardian for the same?

If you're a US media star who has spent 2 years claiming to be so concerned about press freedoms over Trump's mean tweets about your friends, but don't raise your voice in protest over this grave attack on press freedom, take a hard look in the mirror

Glenn is the best national political journalist because he exhibits more logic than any other journalist that I have observed.

The @ACLU warns the attempt to prosecute Julian Assange in connection with publishing "would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations" & "set an especially dangerous precedent"

The @ACLU's point is vital: if the US can force the arrest and then extradite foreigners like Assange on foreign soil for publishing docs, what prevents China or Iran or, you know, Russia for doing the same to US journalists who publish secrets about them?

Back to Glenn's tweets:

For anyone who has been moronically repeating & believing Mike Pompeo's claim that WikiLeaks is "an arm of Russian intelligence," the attempt by the Trump Admin to prosecute Assange is yet another data point in a long list of Trump acting directly contrary to Putin's interests.

The belief that Assange is a Russian agent has always been painfully stupid (and, I should note, completely without evidence). But if you're someone who decided to believe that, then you'd have to see this as another case of Trump taking actions directly harmful to the Kremlin.

Here's the Trump DOJ announcement about its indictment of Assange. It relates only to the 2010 classified docs about the Iraq & Afghanistan War logs & diplomatic cables. It has nothing to do with the 2016 election. This is huge attack on press freedom

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

Journalists have always encouraged sources to obtain more info. That was on display in the movie "All the President's Men."

The security state agents for NBC/MSNBC cheering the Trump administration for arresting Assange because they're authoritarians who only pretend to care about press freedom when it advances their partisan interests.This is what happens when news outlets merge with the US Govt

So you're saying the Obama DOJ searched for years to find evidence that Assange "hacked" those documents but failed to find any evidence, but the Trump DOJ found what you couldn't. Pretty humiliating for you. Hacking is a crime, but they're emphasizing "encouragement":

I love how you blindly trust the Trump DOJ's accusations in a press release. It doesn't surprise me at all to watch Democrats unite behind Trump to imprison their political enemy. The indictment doesn't allege he hacked. Manning had access. It alleges he tried to help her hide it

  • Things that are NOT threats to press freedom: Trump tweeting insults about Chuck Todd and Wolf Blitzer. * Things that are incomparably grave threats to press freedom: indicting Assange for encouraging a source to provide more docs & helping her avoid getting caught:

You think it's justified to introduce me not as a journalist or columnist or analyst but as a "colleague of Julian Assange," a blatant, factual falsehood? I'm no more of a "colleague" of Assange than David Greene.

Many corporate US journalists hate Assange for 2 key reasons: 1) professional jealousy: he published stories of massive global impact they've never come close to; 2) he is adversarial to the US Govt & its security state agencies while they are supporters & servants of them:

US corporate journalists, in general, are extremely patriotic. The more immersed in national security reporting they are, the more devoted they are to the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc, because those are their friends, sources and allies. Anyone (like Assange) who angers them will be hated.

The only news outlet that filmed Assange being taken out of the embassy was @Ruptly - a subsidiary of RT - because all other news outlets left a couple of days ago. News outlets wanting to use this exclusive footage now have to pay @Ruptly for the license:

Are you fucking kidding with this? The arrest warrant and charges are explicitly for the 2010 publications from Manning. And top Trump officials have been promising to arrest Assange since early 2017.

No. Democrats are craven authoritarians who want to see Assange imprisoned for one reason & one reason only, even if it means uniting with the Trump Admin: because he published documents that reflected poorly on Hillary Clinton, which they regard as a crime worthy of prison.…

I'm not surprised to see NBC journalists uniting behind Trump DOJ to justify the criminalization of WikiLeaks - NBC is fully aligned with the CIA/NSA long obsessed with destroying WL - but this tweet is false: the indictment also charges Assange with encouraging his source:

US journalists have long hated WikiLeaks because they have published stories of far greater importance & impact than most of those journalists in the lifetime will ever publish, all without being part of their little club. But to cheer the Trump DOJ prosecution is just grotesque.

it's so difficult to follow threads, conversations, etc. on Twitter. What a horrible way to publish thoughts. I take it back. Twitter is still useless, at least from its UI/UX perspective.

tweets by others that appear in Greenwald's timeline:

Reupping this nuanced column by @BradMossEsq from late last year: "No matter how you feel about Assange," his legal fate "potentially strikes at the heart of the foundations of a free and independent press in the U.S."

tweet by someone else

The continued imprisonment of @xychelsea is an utter disgrace. The arrest of Julian Assange represents an extremely dangerous crossing of the rubicon. This is an assault on journalism and a free press. All journalists should stand in fierce opposition.

US media stars are almost always in support of US empire, and that’s why they will never forgive Assange or Wikileaks for exposing US war crimes. If the publisher of leaks that ONLY exposed America’s adversaries was arrested, these same ppl would be crying fascism and tyranny

How does anyone not see how this logic applies to say, media exposes on torture and targeted killing? People literally argued these stories were treason on behalf of terrorists at the time

The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking. The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade: it is the count Obama's DOJ refused to charge, saying it endangered journalism.

agree 100% with @ggreenwald on this. What @wikileaks did to bring forth @xychelsea story was one of the best pieces of journalism of my lifetime. Now, to have other so-called journalists doing the government's job for them by smearing Assange is gross and frankly pathetic.

More about Assange.

Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists today said it was deeply concerned by the U.S. prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Authorities in the United Kingdom arrested Assange this morning at the Ecuadoran Embassy as part of an extradition agreement with the U.S., according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The statement said Assange faces a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charge relates to Assange's interactions with Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who was convicted under the Espionage Act for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and spent seven years in prison. According to the indictment, Assange allegedly offered to help Manning break a password to a secure government database.

The indictment does not explicitly charge Assange for publication, a move that would have wide-ranging press freedom implications, but it does construe his interactions with Manning as part of a criminal conspiracy. "It was part of the conspiracy that Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records from departments and agencies of the United States," count 20 of the indictment states.

"The potential implications for press freedom of this allegation of conspiracy between publisher and source are deeply troubling," said Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "With this prosecution of Julian Assange, the U.S. government could set out broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest."

The Wizard of Oz of journalists did opine about the issue.

For press-freedom advocates, Julian Assange has long been a polarizing figure.

That sounds like a real journalist when everyone on all sides is angry. Glenn Greenwald angers the left and the right because Glenn uses more logic and context than most journalists.

Is the WikiLeaks founder, who until Thursday had been holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for years, essentially a publisher — though a notably strange one —

A strange one? What does a personality have to do with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment?

Earlier this year, we saw and read about the disturbing antics, exhibited late one Saturday night in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newsroom by the executive editor for the paper, John Robinson Block, whose family also owns the Toledo Blade.

Is Sullivan implying that no strange journalists exist within the so-called mainstream media?

More from the Wizard:

... who believes in taking radical steps to expose government secrets,

Like the Washington Post and many other newspapers and now digital-only media orgs have done for decades? Define "radical?"

... and who thus should be afforded the same First Amendment protections given to news organizations?

If WaPo (BezPo) and the NY Times can be afforded First Amendment protection for exposing Watergate and publishing the Pentagon Papers, then so do Assange and Wikileaks. Media orgs like BezPo have republished Wikileaks content, such as the info given to Wikileaks by Chelsea Manning and the Wikileaks dump called the Panama Papers.

Or is he a reckless traitor — and by no means a journalist — who deserves no such consideration and who should be prosecuted without worrying about free-press concerns?

That's a disturbing question. It nearly invalidates Sullivan as a journalist and BezPo as a media org. In the past, WaPo reporters have been accused of being traitors or have had their patriotism questioned. Governments have done that in the U.S. for a long time when media orgs publish content that exposes government corruption.

If Assange is a traitor, then what is WaPo for republishing Wikileaks content?

The nature of the charge from the U.S. government will make a difference.

Assange is being charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, with the government claiming that he conspired with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning — and that he helped Manning crack a classified Defense Department password.

He is not, notably, being charged under the Espionage Act, which has been used in recent years to go after journalists and their sources. Manning was imprisoned for seven years, in part for being found guilty of violating that act.

The question hinges on this: Did Assange cross a crucial line by allegedly encouraging the password hack — a line that no legitimate journalist would, or should, cross?


Sullivan is implying that investigative journalists have never crossed any imaginary line to "get" a story. What a joke.

Still, there’s a substantial gray area here. And a troubling one.

“The indictment discusses journalistic practices in the context of a criminal conspiracy: using encryption, making efforts to protect a source’s identity, and source cultivation,” said University of Georgia media law professor Jonathan Peters.

Those practices, he told me, are not only routine and lawful, “they’re best practices for journalists.”

In fact, WikiLeaks and Assange — and certainly Edward Snowden’s 2013 leak of vast amounts of government information, bringing widespread government surveillance to light — have helped to usher in a new era for journalists.

News organizations now provide secure drop boxes for sources.

They wisely use encryption applications such as Signal to converse with, and receive information from, sources.

That these practices are cast as part of the conspiracy “should worry all journalists, whether or not Assange himself is seen as a journalist,” Peters said.

What is distinct, though, is the conspiracy to break the password on a secure network.

“That would distinguish Assange in practice from traditional journalists.”

I don't buy it. Substitute "conspiracy to break the password" with any other means to retrieve info that would normally be unavailable, and journalists have been doing the same thing for decades. The technology is different, but the strategy and the goal are the same.

More from the Wizard where she shows her ideologue political buffoonery.

That Assange is such a strange, and to many, unsympathetic character may enter too much into the debate. He’s hard to defend.

Again, being strange and infuriating has nothing to do with our First Amendment.

Hard to defend? National U.S. political journalists are hard to defend. That's why the only journalist I trust to cover U.S. politics is Glenn Greenwald. One journalist. But I'm not wanting to jail the rest. The First Amendment still applies to job failures.

More from Sullivan's post:

“When governments are trying to restrict press rights of any kind, the inclination is not to go after the most popular kid in the room — it’s to go after the least popular,” Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told me last year.

What WikiLeaks has consistently done, Timm said, “is publish information that is true and that the government considers secret.”

Recall the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam War, which Daniel Ellsberg nearly 50 years ago stole from the Pentagon and delivered to the New York Times and The Washington Post.

Even before the attempt to crack the password, Manning had given WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified records, prosecutors alleged. The material allegedly included four nearly complete databases, comprising 90,000 reports from the Afghanistan war, 400,000 reports from the Iraq War and 250,000 State Department cables, The Post reported Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s director, Ben Wizner, remains firmly in Assange’s corner.

Prosecuting him “would be unprecedented and unconstitutional and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations.”

I’m inclined to agree.

Before we turn our backs on Assange, we ought to think deeply about what’s at stake.

Casting him to the wolves as nothing but a narcissistic, bad actor — “not like us,” of course — may seem tempting.

I have even less respect for Sullivan as a thinker for the media. Once again, the stupidity exhibited by the media makes me root for Facebook to dominate the media.

Good summary:

Here’s what numerous civil liberties and digital rights groups had to say about the implications of Assange’s charge and arrest.

Trevor Timm, Freedom of the Press Foundation:

For years, the Obama administration considered indicting WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, before rightly concluding it could not do so without encroaching on core press freedoms. Now almost nine years in, the Trump administration has used the same information to manufacture a flimsy and pretextual indictment involving a “conspiracy” to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act—based entirely on alleged conversations between a journalist and source. While the Trump administration has so far not attempted to explicitly declare the act of publishing illegal, a core part of its argument would criminalize many common journalist-source interactions that reporters rely on all the time. Requesting more documents from a source, using an encrypted chat messenger, or trying to keep a source’s identity anonymous are not crimes; they are vital to the journalistic process. Whether or not you like Assange, the charge against him is a serious press freedom threat and should be vigorously protested by all those who care about the First Amendment.

Ben Wizner, American Civil Liberties Union:

Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public's interest.

Robert Mahoney, Committee to Protect Journalists:

The potential implications for press freedom of this allegation of conspiracy between publisher and source are deeply troubling. With this prosecution of Julian Assange, the U.S. government could set out broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest.

Reporters Without Borders:

While we investigate the implications of the US Justice Department’s charges against Julian Assange, which are specific to his interactions with a source, we reiterate our concern that the prosecution of those who provide or publish information of public interest comes at the expense of the investigative journalism that allows a democracy to thrive.

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

While the indictment of Julian Assange centers on an alleged attempt to break a password—an attempt that was not apparently successful—it is still, at root, an attack on the publication of leaked material and the most recent act in an almost decade-long effort to punish a whistleblower and the publisher of her leaked material. Several parts of the indictment describe very common journalistic behavior, like using cloud storage or knowingly receiving classified information or redacting identifying information about a source. Other parts make common free software tools like Linux and Jabber seem suspect. And while we are relieved that the government has not chosen to include publication-based charges today, if Assange is indeed extradited, the government can issue superseding indictments. It should not do so. Leaks are a vital part of the free flow of information that is essential to our democracy. Reporting on leaked materials, including reporting on classified information, is an essential role of American journalism.

Jameel Jaffer, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University:

The indictment and the Justice Department’s press release treat everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy. Whether the government will be able to establish a violation of the hacking statute remains to be seen, but it’s very troubling that the indictment sweeps in activities that are not just lawful but essential to press freedom—activities like cultivating sources, protecting sources’ identities, and communicating with sources securely.

Center for Constitutional Rights:

The arrest sets a dangerous precedent that could extend to other media organizations such as The New York Times, particularly under a vindictive and reckless administration that regularly attacks journalistic enterprises that, just like WikiLeaks, publish leaked materials that expose government corruption and wrongdoing. This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news.'

Freedom of the Press Foundation

You Don’t Have to Like Julian Assange to Defend Him

The effort to extradite and prosecute the WikiLeaks founder threatens the free media.

The final sentence of that Atlantic piece:

Assange might be an asshole. Scratch that; Assange is an asshole. But we’re going to have to stand up for him anyway.

Ditto for the asshole journalists. More proof that journalists wallow in their own filter bubble, echo chamber, and vacuum.

I'm an asshole, or I'm not an asshole, depending upon who is asked, but that has nothing to do with my freedom of speech to post what I desire on my own website. I have the freedom to take responsibility for what I post. Readers have the freedom to ignore my content.

The Atlantic journalist, and I'm sure many other asshole journalists, believe that Assange is an asshole. Sullivan believes that Assange is very strange and polarizing.

So what? Why do journalists focus on the irrelevant? If journalists were better logical thinkers, then "asshole" and "strange" would not factor into their thinking.

Unfortunately, it seems that too much journalistic thinking is rooted in knee-jerky emotion, which is useless when trying to inform citizens.

Based on all the available information we have, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is not a good guy. I feel comfortable in making this judgement, in part because he’s been accused of rape and in part because of the political company he keeps.

I also believe Assange’s arrest by British authorities today—which came after Ecuador dropped his asylum status after sheltering him in its London embassy for seven years—and his indictment by the Department of Justice is a stunning overreach by the U.S. government and its ally, one that could have a chilling effect on journalists for years to come.

People, I’m sorry, especially liberals, are having a hard time holding both these truths in their heads at once, chief among them—again, sorry—the people who were embarrassed (perhaps even personally!) by Wikileaks publishing Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Embarrassed? The emails showed that the national democrat party subverted democracy by executing a rigged primary process that chose Hillary Clinton long before the primary season began.

On this issue, I'll listen less to the so-called established journalists and listen more to the civil liberties groups, such as CPJ, ACLU, and the EFF.

"Julian Assange Deserves First Amendment Protection (" - 390 comments

From the top comment:

It's unsurprising that political leaders would want to convince people that the true criminals are those who expose acts of high-level political corruption and criminality, rather than those who perpetrate them.

Every political leader would love for that self-serving piety to take hold. But what's startling is how many citizens and, especially, "journalists" now vehemently believe that as well.

In light of what WikiLeaks has revealed to the world about numerous governments, just fathom the authoritarian mindset that would lead a citizen -- and especially a "journalist" -- to react with anger that these things have been revealed; to insist that these facts should have been kept concealed and it'd be better if we didn't know; and, most of all, to demand that those who made us aware of it all be punished (the True Criminals) while those who did these things (The Good Authorities) be shielded

Excerpts from a reply comment:

Most of the cries about 1st Amendment ignore the fact that the grand jury proceeded with the indictment because they have Jabber records of WikiLeaks discussing cracking the password of a Department of Defense database.

Discussing? Is that the same as actually doing it and succeeding?

Reply to that reply:

How is discussing cracking a DOD database password relevant to the prosecution? We’re discussing the cracking of a password in this comment thread, does that make us criminals?

By nature, I don’t think discussing password cracks, without a ton more context than what has been shared, is not criminal.

May 23, 2019

Early this decade, the left loved Assange and Wikileaks, and the right hated them. Since about 2015, the right has loved Assange and Wikileaks, and the left has hated them.

Is this finally Trump's war on the media? Nope. The U.S. wanted to prosecute Assange back around 2010.

US prosecutors charge Julian Assange with violating the Espionage Act in an indictment that says he “repeatedly encouraged” sources to steal government secrets

‘Frightening’: Charges Against Julian Assange Alarm Press Advocates

Once again, Glenn Greenwald proves that he is about the only national political journalist worth trusting.

All those who spent the last 2+ years proclaiming to be so very concerned about attacks on a free press will now have to decide whether they really meant it, or whether - due to feelings about Assange - they will cheer the Trump Administration's frontal assault on press freedom:

Frigging journalists use Twitter, the cesspool of the internet, to whine about Assange AND these new charges. They spew out of all of their orifices. Hypocrites.

The damn journalists make it sound like no U.S. journalist has ever helped a leaker or a whistleblower gather more info. The damn journalists make it sound like all journalists are and were angels.

Many journalists are assholes too. That's simple statistics.

If more journalists at all levels had the thinking skills of Glenn Greenwald, then the media would be much more useful and trustworthy.

The commentary attached to the Mediagazer link:

Charlie Savage / New York Times: Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues
Committee to Protect Journalists: US charges Julian Assange with 17 counts under Espionage Act
The Daily Beast: Trump Justice Department Crosses New Line, Charges Assange With Publishing U.S. Secrets
Jon Levine / The Wrap: Julian Assange Indicted by US on 18 Counts in Classified Information Case
David Kaye / @davidakaye: regardless of what you think about wikileaks or julian assange, an espionage act prosecution can only turn out badly for press freedom in this country
Aidan McLaughlin / Mediaite: BREAKING: Wikileaks Founder Assange Charged With Violating Espionage Act
New York Times: ‘Frightening’: Charges Against Julian Assange Alarm Press Advocates
Erik Pedersen / Deadline: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Hit With 17 Federal Charges That Could Test First Amendment
Alan Sepinwall / Rolling Stone: Bullock's Last Stand: Timothy Olyphant on ‘Deadwood: The Movie’ and David Milch
Adam A. Marshall / @a_marshall_plan: .@rcfp statement on superseding #Assange indictment:
Adam Serwer / @adamserwer: Some of you are so eager to punish Assange for helping Trump that you're willing to hand Trump a tool for prosecuting the reporters exposing his corruption. That's plainly idiotic.
Steven Melendez / Fast Company: Read the new charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Freedom of the Press Foundation: The Trump admin's new charges against Julian Assange are a fundamental threat to press freedom in the 21st century
Zack Whittaker / TechCrunch: WikiLeaks' Assange charged under the Espionage Act in a ‘major test case’ for press freedom
@freedomofpress: Put simply, the Trump admin's unprecedented charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century. Our statement on the shocking news out of the Justice Department: ...
Edward Snowden / @snowden: The Department of Justice just declared war—€"not on Wikileaks, but on journalism itself. This is no longer about Julian Assange: This case will decide the future of media.
U.S. Department of Justice: WikiLeaks Founder Charged in 18-Count Superseding Indictment
Scott Shackford / Reason: New Espionage Charges Against Assange Are Bad for Journalists, Worse for Citizens
@wikileaks: This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment.
Glenn Greenwald / @ggreenwald: All those who spent the last 2+ years proclaiming to be so very concerned about attacks on a free press will now have to decide whether they really meant it, or whether - due to feelings about Assange - they will cheer the Trump Administration's frontal assault on press freedom:
Susan Hennessey / @susan_hennessey: Technically this is true but the indictment makes clear that the facts they are going after are the solicitation in advance and not just the receipt of classified information. Still concerning precedent but a critical distinction.
Nick Confessore / @nickconfessore: Key point here on what the new indictment does that the original doesn't. Provisions of Espionage Act cited in the Assange indictment criminalize the receipt of information from a source that violated the Act. Many nat sec reporters might in theory be guilty of same crime.
Rachel Weiner / @rachelweinerwp: “This just became one of the most important test cases for press freedom even if we all agree that Assange isn't the press,” says @steve_vladeck ...
Matt Naham / Law & Crime: Top Legal Takeaways on the Implications of the Julian Assange Superseding Indictment
Natasha Bertrand / @natashabertrand: However, traditionally the Espionage Act has been used against US government officials, like Manning, who reveal such classified information, rather than foreign nationals who publish the information.
Mark S. Zaid / @markszaidesq: As much as I'm in favor of US prosecuting #Assange for criminal activity, this superseding indictment under #EspionageAct raises many slippery slope concerns. Facts can definitely be distinguished but law cannot. New charges can apply to real journalists too. Real concern.
Natasha Bertrand / @natashabertrand: DOJ officials wouldn't elaborate on what led them to decide now to charge Assange with the Espionage Act rather than leave it at the original indictment on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. Also wouldn't comment on how this might affect Assange's extradition.
Natasha Bertrand / @natashabertrand: DOJ officials are aware of 1A optics in this case & emphasized that “Assange is not being charged simply because he is a publisher.” “We are not charging Assange for passively obtaining classified information,” said US attorney for EDVA Zach Terwilliger.
Matthew Yglesias / @mattyglesias: Assange is bad but this is a bad move will be used to hurt and intimidate good journalists if it establishes a precedent. ...
Jim Windolf / @jimwindolf: Good piece by James Goodale, the lawyer for The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, on Julian Assange. From the April issue of @Harpers.
Noah Shachtman / @noahshachtman: The Daily Beast has been tough on Wikileaks. Very tough. But charging someone under the espionage act for publishing classified info — that's not okay. It sets a terrible, terrible precedent for the rest of us.
Josh Kovensky / Talking Points Memo: READ: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act
Peter Sterne / @petersterne: It was possible to distinguish the conduct Assange was initially charged with — agreeing to help break a password as part of a scheme to help Chelsea cover her tracks — from a journalist's typical behavior.But the new charges are indistinguishable from what reporters do.
@kampeas: The Bush admin tried this with AIPAC case in the mid 2000s. It collapsed under its own weight. I don't think it will be easy at least in terms of legal success. The charging of journalists in of itself may be inhibitive.
Natasha Bertrand / Politico: US Justice Department accuses Assange of violating Espionage Act
BBC: Julian Assange, Wikileaks co-founder, faces 17 new charges in US
Bloomberg: U.S. Charges Julian Assange With 18 Counts Over Classified Leaks
U.S. Attorney EDVA / @edvanews: Superseding indictment alleges Julian Assange published classified documents on WikiLeaks containing the unredacted names of human sources, including journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents from repressive regimes.
Ben Riley-Smith / @benrileysmith: Remarkable bit of the new Assange indictment - when US raided Bin Laden's hideout they found a letter showing he ordered someone to grab secret US defence documents leaked and posted on Wikileaks.
Will Bunch / @will_bunch: Put your loathing of Assange aside for one second. This is a legal theory in which the Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham that you cheered for in “The Post” could be sent to prison for years. This is very dangerous
Adam Serwer / @adamserwer: Yes, there's absolutely no way the Trump administration would denigrate an august journalistic institution like the New York Times. Please stop and think. If publishing classified information is prosecutable, than any outlet that does so can be prosecuted.
David Simon / @aodespair: Yup. Fuck Assange, but not by giving up fundamental press protections in a time of authoritarian overreach.
Adam Serwer / @adamserwer: It doesn't matter if he's a journalist, the legal rationale for prosecuting him could have been used to say, prosecute newspapers for exposing Bush's network of secret torture sites across the world.
Peter Sterne / @petersterne: @jackshafer The DOJ already uses the Espionage Act to criminalize the sharing of classified information with reporters. It's not that big a leap to charge journalists in addition to their sources. Certainly easier than, say, overturning NYT v. Sullivan.
Adam Serwer / @adamserwer: This is a deliberate effort to establish a precedent that can be used to prosecute journalists for doing their jobs and publishing information that embarrasses the government or exposes wrongdoing. ...
Yashar Ali / @yashar: NEWS: Prosecutors are charging Julian Assange with the espionage act in an 18 count indictment. These new charges are crossing over into very dangerous territory. The espionage act could be used against reporters who publish critical information. ...
Michael Calderone / @mlcalderone: If the Justice Dept charges Assange for publishing classified information, what prevents prosecutors from targeting reporters for doing the same?
Greg Greene / @ggreeneva: There are deeds for which Julian Assange belongs under criminal suspicion. Releasing information about wrongdoing the U.S. government tried to cover up in service of a war fought on false pretenses ain't among them. ...
Ryan J. Reilly / @ryanjreilly: “Assange is no journalist,” DOJ NatSec chief John Demers told reporters a few minutes ago.
Patrick Skinner / @skinnerpm: I am no fan in any way of Assange, and support his being charged with offering to help steal secret info. But for publishing secret info? No way. That's protected.
Eriq Gardner / @eriqgardner: This could certainly describe many reporters other than Assange.
Peter Sterne / @petersterne: Reminder that the Trump administration can easily use the Espionage Act to criminalize reporting and go after journalists that he doesn't like
Natasha Bertrand / @natashabertrand: Here is the indictment, which was just posted online a couple minutes ago:
Siva Vaidhyanathan / @sivavaid: I need a better analysis of the Assange charges than a standard rant about “journalism in danger” Journalism is in danger. But give us more, please. You know it's not that simple and the repercussions go far beyond journalism.
John Hudson / @john_hudson: The new charges dramatically raise the stakes of the case both for Assange and the news media, raising questions about the limits of the First Amendment and protections for publishers of classified information ...
Trevor Timm / @trevortimm: This is unprecedented and truly terrifying for all journalists. The Trump admin is now seeking to dismantle the heart of the First Amendment. ...
David Uberti / VICE News: The DOJ Just Charged Julian Assange Under the Espionage Act
@rollingstone: Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act. “Assange's objective ... [was] to subvert lawful restrictions on classified information and to publicly disseminate it,” the indictment said
Bradley P. Moss / @bradmossesq: Thanks a lot, DOJ. Now I have to defend Julian fricking Assange because you just HAD to bring Espionage Act charges. Seriously, I have to partner with @trevortimm now and no one wants that. I'm going to lose my Deep State cred.
Eriq Gardner / @eriqgardner: Who qualifies as a journalist? And does the 1st Amendment provide no shield when a publisher, as the indictment against Julian Assange states, “share[s] the common objective [with sources] to subvert lawful restrictions on classified information and to publicly disseminate it”?
Ryan J. Reilly / HuffPost: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Indicted On 17 Counts Of Espionage
Glenn Kessler / @glennkesslerwp: Of note: The Espionage Act was passed 102 years ago, during World War I, and has never been used in this way.
Kathryn Krawczyk / The Week: Julian Assange just received the first-ever charge of illegally publishing government secrets
Rob Beschizza / Boing Boing: U.S. charges Julian Assange under Espionage Act
Jack Morse / Mashable: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange charged under the Espionage Act

Jun 1, 2019

Abuses show Assange case was never about law (

Jun 13, 2019

US efforts to jail Assange for espionage are a grave threat to a free media (

Top HN comment:

I find it incredible that it took the Guardian 7 years to decide to write this article. EDIT: In fact, it's not even by the Guardian -- it's an opinion piece by an ex-Guardian editor who was (at least implicitly) part of the smear campaign against Julian Assange "back in the day".

Let's not forget that the Guardian sent Julian Assange a basket with soap and socks when he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy[1]. What kind of a message does that send? They also didn't tell anyone involved in the Snowden revelations when GCHQ forced them to destroy their copies. They also (through their tehnical incompetence) leaked documents that WikiLeaks had not published, then blamed WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for the disclosure. Not to mention the ludicrously false and harmful articles they published about him meeting Manafort and co-ordinating disclosures with the Trump campaign alongside many other government puff pieces disguised as "journalism".

Now, all of a sudden, they feel it's a good idea to try to help him. It's too late for that. The right time to try to help him was 7 years ago. Doing it now is for the birds, it's pure political theater so they can pretend (in 15 years) that they were "on the right side of history". Absolute bullshit.


Jun 16, 2019

"Julian Assange's US extradition hearing to take place in February 2020; he faces an 18-count indictment, including charges under the Espionage Act"

"Julian Assange extradition case 'outrageous assault on journalism'"

Jun 24, 2019

"Tech journalists troubled by Assange computer intrusion charge"

Top HN comment:

Assange is in jail for the sole reason he embarrassed the American military industrial entertainment complex.

Sep 13, 2019

"Julian Assange to stay in prison over absconding fears"