U.S. indictment of WikiLeaks' Assange reportedly 'imminent'

Assange likely to be hit with spying charges under U.S Espionage Act

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could soon be indicted on spying charges under the U.S. Espionage Act, according to an ABC news report.

The report quotes Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson as saying that charges against the WikiLeaks founder for his role in the ongoing release of thousands of classified U.S. State Department cables, are "imminent."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has previously said that his office is investigating the possibility of criminally prosecuting Assange for the leaks under the Espionage Act or under other applicable statutes.

Others such as Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have also called for Assange to be prosecuted for leaking the documents, an act that they have claim put U.S. lives at risk.

Assange is now in jail in London after he turned himself in to authorities there earlier this week. The 39-year-old Assange, an Australian national, is wanted in Sweden on sexual molestation and rape charges. He is being held without bail and his next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Any move by the U.S to prosecute Assange on U.S. spy charges could run into challenges . A report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) this week makes it clear that using the Espionage Act or other spying-related statutes to go after Assange would be both unprecedented and legally problematic.

"We are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it," the CRS report bluntly noted. Such an action would have First Amendment implications, and political ramifications "based on concerns about government censorship."

In addition, prosecuting a foreign national whose actions were conducted entirely overseas carries with it certain foreign policy implications and would raise questions related to extraterritorial jurisdiction, the CRS said.

Almost all cases involving the Espionage Act have involved U.S. nationals who had access to classified data before handing it over to foreign agents. And there's nothing in the language of the Espionage Act to suggest it can be applied to foreign nationals operating outside the U.S.

Though a few other statues can be applied in this case, "leaks of classified information to the press have only rarely been punished as crimes," the CRS said.

In the ABC report, Assange's lawyer argued that any indictment of Assange under the Espionage Act would be unconstitutional and would violate First Amendment protections.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags abcDRM and Legal IssuessecuritygovernmentGovernment/Industries

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?