Why the US Has a Weak Legal Case Against WikiLeaks’ Assange
By Michael A. Lindenberger, TIME
So now that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been rounded up in Britain on a warrant out of Sweden, where he’s wanted for questioning in two sex assault cases, what would it take for the U.S. government to prosecute him for publishing – and disseminating to newspapers around the world – thousands of classified State Department cables? And what would it mean for freedom of speech and the press in America if it tried?
Those questions hovered over Washington this week after several members of Congress and the Obama Administration suggested that Assange should indeed face criminal prosecution for posting and disseminating to the media thousands of secret diplomatic cables containing candid-and often extremely embarrassing-assessments from American diplomats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went so far as to label Assange a high-tech terrorist. “He has done enormous damage to our country and I think he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And if that becomes a problem, we need to change the law,” McConnell said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday vowed to examine every statute possible to bring charges against Assange, including some that have never before been used to prosecute a publisher. And in the Senate, some members are already readying a bill that could lower the current legal threshold for when revealing state secrets is considered a crime.