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June 21 2017

As the Espionage Act Turns 100, We Condemn Threats Against Wikileaks

The federal law that is commonly used to prosecute leakers marks its 100th birthday on June 15,2017.

Signed into law on June 15, 1917, the Espionage Act 18 U.S.C. § 792 et seq., was Congress’s response to a fear that public criticism of U.S. participation in World War I would impede the conscript of soldiers to support the war effort and concerns about U.S. citizens undermining the war effort by spying for foreign governments. Although some parts of the law were repealed, many remain in effect 100 years later.

Most pertinent today, the law criminalizes both the disclosure and receipt of certain national security information. As a result, the Espionage Act remains the most common grounds upon which leakers of U.S. governmental information are prosecuted. Indeed, the recent charges against the alleged source of the NSA Russian Election Systems Phishing documents are based on the Espionage Act.

To date, however, the United States has never sought to prosecute a journalistic entity under the Espionage Act for either receiving secret government documents from a source or further disseminating the documents themselves or information from them in the course of reporting. There is nothing in the language of the law that prevents its use against a news organization, but it has been unofficially accepted that it should not apply to the press.

So it is alarming that the Justice Department is reportedly taking a serious look at bringing criminal charges against Wikileaks and Julian Assange for disclosing classified information . In so doing, the Trump administration is threatening to step over a never-crossed line – applying the secret documents provisions of the Espionage Act to journalistic practices. The threat is greatly concerning in the context of prosecuting whistleblowers, and, more broadly, preserving a free press.

The threat is greatly concerning in the context of prosecuting whistleblowers, and, more broadly, preserving a free press.

Leaks are a vital part of the free flow of information that is essential to our democracy. And reporting on leaked materials, including reporting on classified information, is an essential role of American journalism. The US Supreme Court, in Bartnicki v. Vopper, recognized that those who lawfully obtain information pertaining to a matter of public interest have a near absolute right to publish it even if their source illegally obtained the information. Prosecuting Wikileaks for its role in this fundamental democratic process will undermine these vital protections.

In sections 793(d), (e) and 798 the Espionage Act criminalizes the unauthorized communication of both certain classified information and information “connected with the national defense.” Section 793(c) also prohibits merely obtaining national defense documents “with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” Whether the principle of Bartnicki v. Vopper would bar a successful prosecution against a news organization under these provisions has never been tested.

A strong defense of Wikileaks is not simply an anti-Trump position. As current events indicate, leaks are non-partisan: those on both sides of the aisle typically embrace leaks that are politically useful and condemn leaks that are politically damaging. President Donald Trump famously praised Wikileaks when disclosures of DNC emails benefitted him. He now threatens to bring the strong arm of the law down on it.

It can be difficult to separate rhetoric from a planned course of action with this administration. But there are strong signs this White House intends to follow through on its bluster.

First, CIA Director Mike Pompeo labeled Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” at an April 13, 2017 speech at the Center for Strategic And International Studies. The director then followed up by asserting his “philosophical understanding,” as opposed to a legal conclusion, that Wikileaks and Assange are not exercising First Amendment rights.

About a week later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that his department was “stepping up its efforts” “on all leaks” with the goal being to “put some people in jail.”

President Trump also reportedly urged then-FBI director James Comey to prosecute and imprison journalists who published classified information. Comey’s failure to prioritize this has been cited as the one of the reasons for his firing.

Moreover, the president’s reported initial first choice for FBI director, former Senator Joseph Lieberman, has a history of belligerence against both the news media broadly and Wikileaks in particular. In 2010, Lieberman called for an investigation of the New York Times and other news media for publishing Wikileaks documents, proposed an “anti-Wikileaks Law” that would have criminalized the disclosure of intelligence source names, and pressured Amazon and credit card processors to choke off funding for Wikileaks.

Many of the other threats the president and those speaking on his behalf have made against the news media both during the election and since he took office require legislative action by either Congress or the states. Unlike his threat to “open up the libel laws”—which would require action by 50 state legislatures or otherwise be subject to Congressional oversight—the executive branch can initiate a federal criminal prosecution on its own.

We condemn the threats of prosecution of Wikileaks and call for all to speak out against the them.

One hundred years is long enough to let the threat of prosecution under the Espionage Act cast a shadow over our free speech and press freedom protections. Sign our petition, and tell U.S. lawmakers to reform this outdated and overbroad law.

Take Action


Read more about how the Espionage Act came to be and the law's murky legal history.

Reposted from02myEcon-01 02myEcon-01 viawikileaks wikileaks

July 30 2013


【Twitter】 “dangerous national security extremism”

  • @wikileaks: See @carwinb for specific charges which Bradley Manning has been found guilty/not guilty of.

  • @carwinb: Aiding the Enemy-- NOT GUILTY

  • @carwinb: Spec 1, Charge II Wanton Pub. Guilty

  • @carwinb: Spec II, Charge II Guilty to his LIO plea for 793(e) Collateral Murder

  • @carwinb: Spec 3, Charge II CIA Red Cell Memo 793(e) GUILTY (10 years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 4, Charge II Iraq War Logs Database 641 GUILTY (10 years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 5, Charge II Iraq War Logs Espionage 793(e) GUILTY (10 years)

  • @carwinb: Spec 6, Charge II Afghan War Diray Database 641 GUILTY (10 years)

  • @carwinb: Spec 7, Charge II Afghan War Diary Espionage 793(e) GUILTY (10 Years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 8, Charge II GTMO Files Database 641 GUILTY (10 Years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 9, Charge II GTMO File 793(e) Espionage GUILTY (10 Years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 10, Charge II Farah Records 793(e) GUILTY (10 Years Max)

  • @carwinb: Spec 11, Charge II Garani Video 793(e) NOT GUILTY

  • @carwinb: Spec 12, Charge II Cablegate database 641 GUILTY (10 Years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 13, Charge II Cablegate CFAA Exceed Auth Access GUILTY (10 Years)

  • @carwinb: Spec 14, Charge II Reykjavik 13 GUILTY to his LIO ('knowingly accessing') (2 years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 15, Charge II USACIC Memo on WikiLeaks 793(e) GUILTY (10 tears MAX)

  • @carwinb: Spec 16, Charge II Microsoft Exchange GAL 641 GUILTY (10 Years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Charge III (Article 92) Spec 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 GUILTY (2 years MAX each, TOTAL MAX 10 years)

  • @carwinb: Spec 1, Charge II Wanton Publication (Which Manning was found guilty of is 2 years MAX-- see below)

  • @carwinb: Spec 2, Charge II Guilty to his LIO plea for 793(e) Collateral Murder #Manning <-- See below this is 2 years MAX)

  • @carwinb: Manning faces 136 year MAX punishment on the crimes he was found GUILTY-- sentencing begins tomorrow.

  • @carwinb: I am going back into the funeral of a young man.

  • @wikileaks: Manning faces 136 years on the charges he has been convicted of today. Dangerous national security extremism from the Obama administration.

  • @wikileaks: Basic guide to honnest reportage. Manning has not been found 'guilty', but he has been 'convicted' of supplying information to the press.

  • @wikileaks: Bradley Manning's convictions today include 5 courts of espionage. A very serious new precedent for supplying information [to] the press.

  • @wikileaks: Amnesty: Bradley Manning case shows that US government's priorities are 'upside down' amnesty.org.uk/news_details.a…

  • @wikileaks: Transcript: Judge Lind giving verdict in Bradley Manning trial (PDF) pressfreedomfoundation.org/sites/default/…


【Twitter】 Espionage Act is back in US!

  • @avilarenata: IMPORTANT: Bradley Manning convicted of crimes under espionage act. Even if more serious offense is out.

  • @avilarenata: Media line will be: We did not cut Manning head, so all things are fine. However he was declared guilty of 5 CRIMES under Espionage Act.

  • @avilarenata: Read the evidence presented on Court by Bradley Manning prosecutor. You will be very upset he was found guilty of most of the crimes.

  • @avilarenata: The Espionage Act is back in US! And silly media celebrates.

  • @avilarenata: You know why media is struggling to understand Bradley Manning verdict? Because they did not bother to attend each and every hearing.

  • @avilarenata: ¨Leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act¨ Ben Wizner from ACLU

17:08 GMT: Manning found NOT GUILTY of aiding the enemy, but guilty on 19 other counts including five counts of theft and ‘wantonly cause to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the US government.’

While avoiding the most serious charge, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment without parole, he could still face a maximum of more than 100 years in jail, having been found guilty of the majority of the 21 criminal counts.

He was found not guilty of violating the espionage act for the collateral murder video.
Manning trial verdict: LIVE UPDATES

US judge rules that Espionage Act does not require proof of any harm done — RT USA

US justice is going toward collapse...

The case concerns Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who in 2010 was indicted on two counts of disclosing national defense secrets to Fox News reporter James Rosen the year prior. Kim’s information was based on an intelligence report which was available to a limited number of government employees.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the prosecution does not need to show that the information Kim allegedly leaked could damage US national security or benefit a foreign power, even potentially.

Her ruling went against the 1985 v. Morison case, in which Samuel L. Morison was convicted of unauthorized disclosure of satellite imagery to Jane’s Defence Weekly. Kollar-Kotelly said that she disagreed with the precedent it set, which required prosecution to prove harm to national security.

“The Court declines to adopt the Morison court’s construction of information relating to the ‘national defense’ insofar as it requires the government to show that disclosure of the information would be potentially damaging to the United States or useful to an enemy of the United States,” Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

That decision could well modify interpretation of the 1917 Espionage Act for future whistleblower cases. Kim’s legal defense says that without the need to prove harm done to national security, the Espionage Act is essentially converted into a “Government Secrets Act.”

“The requirement that disclosure of the information be ‘potentially damaging’ is ‘implicit in the purpose of the statute and assures that the government cannot abuse the statute by penalizing citizens for discussing information the government has no compelling reason to keep confidential,” wrote the defense.

Reposted bymofo mofo
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