The former Obama administration official who criticized the military's treatment of Bradley Manning is now casting doubt on the potential that WikiLeaks will be prosecuted.


Former U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told Salon's Justin Elliot that prosecution would be difficult because "it is hard to distinguish what WikiLeaks did from what the New York Times did."

The comparison may not sit well with Times editor Bill Keller, who has published an unflattering profile of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Leaks and statements from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have indicated that WikiLeaks may have become the target of an investigation after they began to release secret U.S. State Department cables last year.

A November Washington Post report said that Assange was under investigation for violating the Espionage Act.

In December, Attorney General Eric Holder said that he had authorized "a number of things to be done so that we can get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable."

While still the top spokesman for the State Department, Crolwy had said that it was "counterproductive and stupid" for Manning, the soldier accused of handing over secret documents to WikiLeaks, to be held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

Several days later, Crowley acknowledged his remarks and submitted his resignation.

"I thought the treatment of Bradley Manning was undermining what I considered to be a very legitimate prosecution of an individual who has profoundly affected U.S. national security," he told BBC news in late March.

"Quite honestly I didn't necessarily think the controversy would go as far as it did but I don't regret saying what I said," he added.

"The Manning prosecution, done right (his pre-trial treatment included), and improved data security are the proper responses to Wikileaks," Crowley tweeted over the weekend.

Elliot asked the former top spokesman if he thought WikiLeaks should also be prosecuted.

"I do not see WikiLeaks as journalism. It is a source of information. That said, it is hard to distinguish what WikiLeaks did from what the New York Times did. That's why the focus is rightly on Bradley Manning," Crowley replied.

A call to the DOJ was not returned by the time of publication.