The Trump Department of Justice has openly declared war on the First Amendment. And the case they have chosen to pave the way for criminally prosecuting journalists and publishers is that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. It is the first time since the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enshrined in law, that the government is criminally charging a publisher for publishing truthful information.
This indictment centers around the exposure of war crimes committed by the forces of the most powerful nation on Earth. It is about publishing documents that laid bare the blackmail, the backroom deals, the threats, the lies of the U.S. government in nations across the world. It is retaliation against an organization that presented to the world video evidence of a U.S. helicopter gunship massacre on Iraqi civilians and two Reuters news journalists.
This prosecution is revenge for publishing documents on the U.S. kill campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan, for publishing documents about torture and the creation of proxy forces in Iraq. But this is not just about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. At the heart of the 17 Espionage Act indictments against Assange is the most extreme threat to press freedom and freedom of speech in the modern era. Not even Richard Nixon went this far, despite wanting desperately to criminalize journalism.
The case against Assange is actually a de facto prosecution of all publishers. If this succeeds, then the pandora’s box is open. Tomorrow, this administration could be going after the publishers of The New York Times or Washington Post.
This administration wants to put journalists in prison. They want to shut down news organizations who aggressively investigate Trump. William Barr and Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo want you to hate Julian Assange so much that you will give up your own freedoms just to watch him burn at the stake.
If you don’t see this attack on Assange under the Espionage Act as one of the most absolutely dangerous threats this administration has launched against the media, then you aren’t paying attention, or you are allowing yourself to be tricked by Trump and his dangerous team of political prosecutors.