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article imageFree press worried about U.S. 'plugging up' of WikiLeaks

By Anne Sewell     Mar 27, 2012 in World
U.S. journalists are getting worried by Washington's relentless pursuit of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and treatment of whistle-blower Bradley Manning. They are concerned that they too could end up in custody for speaking the truth.
Washington has had secret plans for Assange since around January 2011, and ironically he has recently uncovered this secret during the WikiLeaks exposure of the global intelligence company Stratfor when 5 million confidential emails were exposed to the light.
Assange is an Australian citizen in the custody of the United Kingdom, simultaneously fighting extradition to Sweden.
Douglas McNabb, a federal criminal defense attorney and extradition expert, says in the video:
“It’s done frequently when a defendant is outside the US. They’ll get an indictment, which is secret. They’ll seal the charging document of the indictment. They will ask for an arrest warrant and that will also be sealed. That way, the U.S. stands behind a big large boulder, if you will, and then jumps out from that boulder and arrests someone.”
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Espen Moe/Wikimedia Commons
While 40-year-old Assange has been under house arrest for more than a year, he has not yet been charged with any crime in any country. Sweden does want to question him over sex-related allegations, but so far nothing has come of this. But in the meantime, the U.S. is determined to punish him.
RT says this is apparently in payback for exposing confidential cables which shame the U.S. and expose illegalities in overseas military operations. WikiLeaks has also exposed embarrassing opinions and tactics of the State Department.
Journalist James Moore believes: “They're going to continue going after Mr. Assange to make a point that we’re tough and we’re not going to let anybody threaten America, whether it’s Al-Qaeda or it’s an Australian national.”
The U.S. Justice department has apparently mounted an unprecedented investigation into WikiLeaks, and aims to prosecute him under the espionage act. They say that publishing the documents has created a national security risk.
“The US government within the federal arena likes to charge others – that have either aided and abetted or assisted or were full blown co-conspirators – likes to go after those in order to flip them. To get them to co-operate with the US government against the major players, in this case Mr. Assange,” McNabb says.
Bradley Manning out-of-uniform.
Bradley Manning out-of-uniform.
Bradley Manning (
With regard to Private Bradley Manning, who is facing 22 federal charges for allegedly leaking 700,000 videos and documents to WikiLeaks, the U.S. is now apparently trying to "flip" him. He is currently one of six U.S. citizens charged with espionage by the Obama administration
Chris Hedges, who is a Pullitzer Prize winning journalist and author told RT in an interview:
“If one of those cases makes it to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court upholds the Espionage Act as an act which essentially criminalizes any whistleblower, anybody who exposes war crimes, anybody who challenges the official narrative of the lies of the state, then that's it. Because that would mean that any leaker could automatically be sent to prison for life. And at that point any idea of freedom of information is over. We will only know what the state wants us to know.”
And James Moore further says: “It’s supposed to be about protecting the national security of the United States. But that is not the way the journalism industry will view it. They will view it as being a message to them. ‘Be careful who you talk to. Be careful what you write because you can be next.’ I think a number of reporters will say ‘I am not risking it.’”
The Obama administration's unprecedented "war on whistle-blowers" may ultimately kill the freedom of the press in the U.S., according to critics. If publishers or individuals are convicted on criminal charges and jailed for telling the truth, it is said that more journalists may prefer to abandon the First Amendment privileges of "free speech" and "reserve the right to remain silent".
A blow indeed to those in the free media who wish, quite simply, to tell the truth.
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