Four Years Is Long Enough: The DOJ Should End Its Grand Jury Investigation Into Wikileaks
from the file-charges-or-drop-it dept
For many years, it’s been widely known, if not officially confirmed, that the DOJ had a grand jury investigation going on against Julian Assange and Wikileaks. As far back as early 2011, it was already quite clear that they didn’t have enough evidence to actually make a case against him. They were so desperate that they tortured Chelsea Manning and offered her a plea deal if she would lie, and claim, falsely, that Assange “conspired” with her. Last fall, we noted that some in the DOJ were finally admitting that they had no case, but as of the end of April, the investigation was still happening.
A very long list of human rights and press freedom groups have now sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, asking him to end the criminal investigation and admit that nothing criminal was done by Assange or Wikileaks in relation to publishing classified information leaked to it by Manning (and, potentially, others).
In a recent meeting with media representatives, you promised that “as long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Yet, the continued criminal investigation and other persecution of WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange puts them at serious risk. Well-respected legal scholars across the political spectrum have stated that a prosecution of WikiLeaks or Mr. Assange for publishing classified material or interacting with sources could criminalize the newsgathering process and put all editors and journalists at risk of prosecution.
There is growing international recognition that new media organisations are creating new channels for political debate and play a crucial role in maintaining transparency and democratic forms of government. The US Government made freedom of expression on the Internet one of the priorities of its foreign policy; this commitment must not be limited to the international arena. Thus, we are concerned that actions against Wikileaks undermine the commitment of the US Government to freedom of speech
It’s doubtful that this will do any good, but it’s important to keep highlighting issues like this, and how the administration has failed, badly, to live up to its promises. Unfortunately, rather than actually doing the right thing, all too often, the administration seems to decide to double down on its strategy.