Thursday, December 16, 2010
Cartoonist Ruben Bolling depicts Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, meeting prominent journalists in prison who also used leaked materials. Federal prosecutors trying to build a case against Assange are looking for evidence that he actively colluded with Private Bradley Manning, who leaked the government documents that WikiLeaks disseminated. In doing so, the government seems to be conceding that trying to convict an individual merely based on receiving and publishing leaked information raises troubling issues about a free press and investigative journalism:
By bringing a case against Mr. Assange as a conspirator to Private Manning’s leak, the government would not have to confront awkward questions about why it is not also prosecuting traditional news organizations or investigative journalists who also disclose information the government says should be kept secret — including The New York Times, which also published some documents originally obtained by WikiLeaks.
“I suspect there is a real desire on the part of the government to avoid pursuing the publication aspect if it can pursue the leak aspect,” said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor and former federal prosecutor. “It would be so much neater and raise fewer constitutional issues.”