The lawyer for Wikileaks’head Julian Assange says that the Department of Justice will be forced to close the case against Wikileaks due to the “Clinton precedent.” Law firm Miller & Chevalier, who is representing Assange in the United States, say that FBI Director’s Comey made it clear that “no reasonable prosecutor” would take on the Hillary Clinton case because they would not be able to prove “criminal intent.” The lawyers state that the same would hold true for Wikileaks the distribution as it was newsworthy and not for criminal purposes.
Wikileaks lawyers sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking that the case against Julian Assange be dropped immediately due to the “Clinton precedent” and recent revisions to Department of Justice policies regarding prosecution of the news media.
WikiLeaks lawyers to Loretta Lynch: ‘Clinton precedent’ requires closing DoJ case against WikiLeaks https://t.co/BMGhtHnQK6
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 16, 2016
The letter pointed to two specific developments regarding the distribution of confidential information that have taken place recently that should ensure that the Wikileaks case is dropped by the Department of Justice. The lawyers, with law firm Miller & Chevalier, note that Julian Assange should be protected from prosecution due to a recent revision in the DOJ policy regarding prosecution of members of the media.
“Because freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of members of the news media to investigate and report the news, the Department’s policy is intended to provide protection to members of the news media from certain law enforcement tools, whether criminal or civil, that might unreasonably impair newsgathering activities.”
The revision goes on to state that “no member of the Department shall present information to a grand jury seeking a bill of indictment” against someone suspected of committing a crime that arose “out of newsgathering activities” without first “notifying the Office of Public Affairs” and receiving “express authorization” from the Attorney General.
— Anonymous Center (@AnonymousCenter) August 17, 2016
The lawyers note that Assange and Wikileaks would have been protected under the new revisions as the information was obtained for the strict purpose of newsgathering. Furthermore, the lawyers state that the DOJ’s decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for the mishandling of classified information due to her lack of “criminal intent” would also set a precedent that Assange could not be prosecuted for his purported crimes.
WikiLeaks asks DOJ to end probe of classified information, cites ‘Clinton precedent’ https://t.co/DxYkb8fOXb
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) August 16, 2016
Assange says that there was no criminal intent when he shared the classified documents. Instead, the items were shared as part of the newsgathering and reporting process for media outlets. The lawyers note that Assange had no criminal intent in sharing the information.
“Wikileaks has published information out of a single overriding motivation: its belief that the information being published is newsworthy.”
The lawyers go on to note that the “extensive third-party coverage” of information obtained by Wikileaks proves that the general news media believes the information was newsworthy; therefore, protecting Assange and Wikileaks from prosecution under the new revisions and “Clinton precedent.”
Therefore, Assange’s lawyers note that “there is no legitimate basis” for the Department of Justice to continue a criminal investigation into Wikileaks or Assange. The lawyers then go on to request that the criminal investigation into Wikileaks be immediately dropped.
What do you think about the lawyer’s assertion that Wikileaks is exempt from charges due to a lack of criminal intent and belief the information was “newsworthy?”
[Image by Kirsty Wigglesworth/ AP Photo]