Assange Smear 5: “He’s being prosecuted for hacking/espionage crimes, not journalism.”
No, he’s being prosecuted for journalism. Assange is being prosecuted based on the exact same evidence that the Obama administration had access to when it was investigating him to see if he could be prosecuted for his role in the Manning leaks, but the Obama administration ruled it was impossible to prosecute him based on that evidence because it would endanger press freedoms. This is because, as explained by The Intercept’s Micah Lee and Glenn Greenwald, the things Assange is accused of doing are things journalists do all the time: attempting to help a source avoid detection, taking steps to try to hide their communications, and encouraging Manning to provide more material. This is all Assange is accused of; there is no “hacking” alleged in the indictment itself.
Joe Emersberger of Fair.org notes the following:
Now Assange could be punished even more brutally if the UK extradites him to the US, where he is charged with a “conspiracy” to help Manning crack a password that “would have” allowed her to cover her tracks more effectively. In other words, the alleged help with password-cracking didn’t work, and is not what resulted in the information being disclosed. It has also not been shown that it was Assange who offered the help, according to Kevin Gosztola (Shadowproof, 4/11/19). The government’s lack of proof of its charges might explain why Manning is in jail again.
The indictment goes even further, criminalizing the use of an electronic “drop box” and other tactics that investigative journalists routinely use in the computer age to work with a confidential source “for the purpose of publicly disclosing” information.
The only thing that changed between the Obama administration and the Trump administration is an increased willingness to attack journalism. Assange is being prosecuted for journalism.
UPDATE: After this article’s publication, Assange was smashed by the Trump Department of Justice with 17 additional charges under the Espionage Act, just as many experts predicted. All charges relate to the same standard journalistic practices described above. Assange faces up to 170 years in prison under these new charges.
It’s also worth noting here that President Executive Order 13526, section 1.7 explicitly forbids the classification of material in order to hide government malfeasance, meaning it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that Manning did not in fact break a legitimate law, and that those prosecuting her did.
“In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to: (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency,” the section reads, while Manning’s lawyer has argued the following:
“The information released by PFC Manning, while certainly greater in scope than most leaks, did not contain any Top Secret or compartmentalized information. The leaked information also did not discuss any current or ongoing military missions. Instead, the Significant Activity Reports (SIGACTs, Guantanamo detainee assessments, Apache Aircrew video, diplomatic cables, and other released documents dealt with events that were either publicly known or certainly no longer sensitive at the time of release.”
There was no legitimate reason for what Manning leaked to have been classified; it was only kept so to avoid US government embarrassment. Which was illegal. To quote Assange: “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”
This is an excerpt from the mega-article “Debunking All The Assange Smears”.