In one of the longest interviews he’s given for months, Wikileaks creator Julian Assange told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman on Thursday that the Pentagon and Justice Department are seeking to redefine the Espionage Act in such a way that would bring about “the end of national security journalism in the United States.”
Assange, who’s still living inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, said he believes that a grand jury allegedly secretly impaneled to investigate criminal charges against him may pursue charges under the Espionage Act, a 1917 law once used to prosecute Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
“On September 28th this year, the Pentagon renewed its formal threats against us in relation to ongoing publishing but also, extremely seriously, in relation to ongoing, what they call, solicitation,” he explained. “So, that is asking sources publicly, you know, ‘Send us important material, and we will publish it.’ They say that that itself is a crime.”
He added that this new interpretation of the Espionage Act would be an “absurd overreach” and abuse of power, effectively criminalizing national security journalism. “Why would it be the end of national security journalism?” he rhetorically asked. “Because the interpretation is that if any document that the U.S. government claims to be classified is given to a journalist, who then makes any part of it public, that journalist has committed espionage, and the person who gave them the material has committed the crime, communicating with the enemy.”
This video is from Democracy Now, published Thursday, November 30, 2012.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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