In recent days, there have been numerous reports that Julian Assange is about to be expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been in asylum for over six years. While many politicians in the United States would like to get their grubby paws around Mr. Assange’s neck as shown here:
David McCraw, the deputy general counsel and lead litigation attorney for freedom-of-information lawsuits for the New York Times provides us with a completely different viewpoint on the prosecution of WikiLeaks. According to an article in the Courthouse News Service by Maria Dinzeo, McCraw’s speech to the Ninth Circuit’s annual judicial conference held in Anaheim, California, Mr. McCraw made the following comments to a roomful of judges and other judicial officials about the potential prosecution of Julian Assange as part of a panel on “The Law of Leaks”:
“I think the prosecution of him would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers. From that incident, from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.
Do I wish journalism was practiced in a certain way, like it is with The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal? Of course. But I also think new ways of publishing have their value. Our colleagues who are not only challenging us financially but journalistically have raised an awareness that there are different ways to report.
But if someone is in the business of publishing information, I think that whatever privilege happens to apply – whatever extension of the law that would apply – should be there. Because the question isn’t whether he’s a journalist. It’s in that instance was he committing an act of journalism.”
He also noted that he does find some of the methods used by Assange to be discomfiting and irresponsible, particularly the dumping of unredacted documents that reveal personal information.
According to Assange’s lawyers, back in 2011, there was concern that if Mr. Assange were extradited from Britain to Sweden, he could end up in the United States where he could face the death penalty as shown here:
Let’s close with this interview with John Pilger and Julian Assange regarding the Clinton emails that were released by WikiLeaks in 2016:
Here’s a key excerpt:
“John Pilger: The Clinton campaign has said that Russia is behind all of this, that Russia has manipulated the campaign and is the source for WikiLeaks and its emails.
Julian Assange: The Clinton camp has been able to project that kind of neo-McCarthy hysteria: that Russia is responsible for everything. Hilary Clinton stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That is false; we can say that the Russian government is not the source.“
Enough said. But, let’s not let facts get in the way of a perfectly good narrative!
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