August 12, 2019

US Judge Rules That WikiLeaks Broke No Law By Publishing Documents; Weakens Case For Julian Assange’s Extradition

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


United States Federal Judge John G Koeltl recently ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did not break any law by publishing hacked Democratic National Congress (DNC) emails.

The judge also ruled that WikiLeaks is fully entitled to publish them.

The ruling is considered highly significant because it could adversely affect US extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The judge ruled on a case brought against WikiLeaks and other parties with regard to the alleged hacking of DNC emails.

He concluded that if WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents about the DNC’s political, financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ or trade secrets, then any newspaper or other media outlet also could be held liable for the same.

The judge stated that the US First Amendment prevents such liability in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets which publish materials of public interest.

Despite defects in the way the published materials were obtained, so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place, there was no case to prosecute him, the judge stated.

Significantly, the judge added that it’s not criminal to solicit or to “welcome” stolen documents, and how a person is entitled to publish stolen documents which the publisher requested from a source, so long as the publisher did not participate in any theft.

Reacting to the development, Jen Robinson, a member of Assange’s legal team, described the judge’s ruling as an “important win for free speech”.

The lawyer for WikiLeaks, Joshua Dratel, stated that he is very gratified with the result, which reaffirms US First Amendment principles which apply to journalists across the board, whether they work for large institutions or small independent operations.

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