As the Espionage Act turns 100, we condemn threats against WikiLeaks

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by David Greene

“[T]he Espionage Act remains the most common grounds upon which leakers of U.S. governmental information are prosecuted. Indeed, the recent charges against the alleged source of the NSA Russian Election Systems Phishing documents are based on the Espionage Act. To date, however, the United States has never sought to prosecute a journalistic entity under the Espionage Act for either receiving secret government documents from a source or further disseminating the documents themselves or information from them in the course of reporting. There is nothing in the language of the law that prevents its use against a news organization, but it has been unofficially accepted that it should not apply to the press. So it is alarming that the Justice Department is reportedly taking a serious look at bringing criminal charges against Wikileaks and Julian Assange for disclosing classified information. In so doing, the Trump administration is threatening to step over a never-crossed line — applying the secret documents provisions of the Espionage Act to journalistic practices.” (06/14/17)