The logic by which the U.S. Department of Justice is prosecuting Julian Assange via the Espionage Act could also be applied similarly to President Donald Trump himself, according to an analysis by Mike Masnick, published on Techdirt.
Masnick begins by pointing out that the charges brought against Assange are extremely broad. Namely, Assange is accused under a provision in which any one who “counsels, commands, induces” a source to obtain or provide classified information violates the Espionage Act.
As The Inquisitr has covered, many critics of the justice department’s pursuit of Assange have characterized the charges as problematic and a threat to the protections afforded under the First Amendment.
“Assange is a bad actor who has harmed U.S. national security — and he should be held accountable,” said Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren. “But Trump should not be using this case as a pretext to wage war on the First Amendment and go after the free press who hold the powerful accountable everyday.”
Ironically, the same provision of the Espionage Act being used to target Assange could similarly be applied to Trump as well. In televised remarks addressing a controversy surrounding his the- opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump made a comment that could easily be interpreted as inducing a third-party to deliver classified information in violation of the Espionage Act.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said at the time. Because the emails in question were indeed classified information, Trump could be accused of having requested what would essentially be a leak of classified data. In an additional twist, the request in Trump’s case was directed at a hostile foreign power which would later be determined to have meddled in Trump’s favor in the very election that was taking place at that time.
Charging Assange under the Espionage Act will have a srs chilling effect on our most fundamental rights of freedom of speech & freedom of the press. Every American—certainly every journalist—must strongly condemn this anti-democratic act by the Trump Adminhttps://t.co/4JkBGJCFk9— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) May 24, 2019
In any case, from a legal perspective, Masnick was careful to point out that even though the logic behind charging Trump under the Espionage Act is an interesting rhetorical exercise, he and many legal scholars agree that use of the act against either Trump or Assange is equally irresponsible and should be immediately shut down.
“And while I’m sure there are some people who would like to see the President charged under the Espionage Act, this is not a good reason to support this incredibly broad interpretation of the law,” he writes.