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Trump’s Prosecution of Assange Is Poetic Justice But Still Wrong

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The sad thing is that this presumably comes as a surprise to Assange and his fellow Trump-supporting supporters:

The Justice Department’s decision to pursue Espionage Act charges signals a dramatic escalation under President Trump to crack down on leaks of classified information and aims squarely at First Amendment protections for journalists. Most recently, law enforcement officials charged a former intelligence analyst with giving classified documents to The Intercept, a national security news website.

Legal scholars believe that prosecuting reporters over their work would violate the First Amendment, but the prospect has not yet been tested in court because the government had never charged a journalist under the Espionage Act.

[…]

The Obama administration considered charging Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act but never did out of concerns that such a case could chill traditional journalism.

I think Yglesias is right on both counts here:

There is indeed a certain delicious irony inherent in the fact that Assange is the very rare ratfucking heighten-the-contradictions dipshit who might suffer personal consequences for his actions, rather than having less privileged people get the contradictions heightened on them. But the judgment of the Obama administration was sound: prosecuting him under the Espionage Act is a terrible idea inconsistent with the First Amendment no matter unsympathetic a figure Assange is.

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