Under legislation proposed in Congress, the United States government would not be able to prosecute journalists like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who publish classified information.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ro Khanna introduced the Espionage Act Reform Act to reaffirm “First Amendment protections for journalists” and ensure “whistleblowers can effectively report waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress.”
Wyden declared in a press statement, “The Espionage Act currently provides sweeping powers for a rogue attorney general like Bill Barr or unscrupulous president like Donald Trump to target journalists and whistleblowers who reveal information they’d rather keep secret. This bill ensures only personnel with security clearances can be prosecuted for improperly revealing classified information.”
It would protect the rights of members of the press that “solicit, obtain, or publish government secrets” from prosecution.
The legislation would also protect disclosures of classified information related to signals intelligence to any member of Congress.
Whistleblower protections would be able to provide classified information to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and inspector generals to help them investigate privacy abuses. The government would not be able to invoke secrecy laws to shut down reviews of their conduct.