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The Implications of Charging Assange for Conspiracy to Leak

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times that DOJ is considering charging Julian Assange as a conspirator to Bradley Manning’s undoubtedly illegal leak of classified information:

Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

I have no idea how feasible this is.  But the government’s rationale for pursuing this route is noteworthy:

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 Times, which also published some documents originally obtained by WikiLeaks.

I’m not so sure this path avoids awkward questions

Continue reading Jack Goldsmith at Lawfare