AG Holder: Assange Unlikely to be Prosecuted for Manning Docs

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
AG Holder: Assange Unlikely to be Prosecuted for Manning Docs

The Justice Department is leaning toward not charging WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange for publishing the classified documents he received from PFC Bradley Manning, according to a report published by The Washington Post.

Citing unnamed “U.S. officials,” the Post claims that although a grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks “remains empaneled,” Attorney General Eric Holder is unlikely to pursue criminal prosecution of Assange unless new allegations against him crop up.

“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists. If you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange," Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman, said, according to information in the Post article.

Assange poses a problem for the Obama administration, the Post reports. The anonymous officials described the situation as a “New York Times problem.” That is:

If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

WikiLeaks, of course, is hesitant to rely on rumors of decisions not to prosecute Assange, until such time as a formal announcement is made. As the Post reports:

“We have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice to tell us what the status of the investigation was with respect to Mr. Assange,” said Barry J. Pollack, a Washington attorney for Assange. “They have declined to do so. They have not informed us in any way that they are closing the investigation or have made a decision not to bring charges against Mr. Assange. While we would certainly welcome that development, it should not have taken the Department of Justice several years to come to the conclusion that it should not be investigating journalists for publishing truthful information.”

For now, Assange, an Australian, remains a “guest” of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he lives in a hallway that has been converted into a bedroom. He has been holed up there since the South American country granted him asylum in June 2012. For its part, the British government dismissed Ecuador’s act to protect Assange, insisting that he remains a fugitive from justice.

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012

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