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article imageOp-Ed: What happens to WikiLeaks matters to everyone

By Justin King     Nov 27, 2013 in World
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has said it will not bring charges against Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Those who believe the DOJ statement are in the minority. That says something very important about the Department’s standing.
Employees at WikiLeaks should have been overjoyed at news that the DOJ has finally concluded that it is highly unlikely that they will bring charges against Assange. They were not. Simply put, they don’t believe anything the DOJ has to say. Nobody can really blame them. DOJ’s statements have lost any and all meaning.
Taking the statement at face value, we would have to conclude that the same organization that just this month threw Jeremy Hammond in prison for a decade for accessing a private company’s records and publishing those, suddenly has no ill will towards the founder of the organization that enabled leaks of national security related documents, and of course, Hammond’s leak.
The purported reasoning behind the decision, as a former spokesperson said was
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,
The problem is that this concern for the First Amendment protections of the press and of citizens in general, is a new development. Just last year the Department of Justice was caught spying on the offices of the Associated Press. That spying led to a source going to prison for 43 months. That was not an isolated incident and the DOJ’s war on journalism goes back quite some time. In 2006, it was revealed that DOJ was targeting a freelance journalist covering the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference. That is certainly nowhere near as important to the Department as shutting down a vile enemy of freedom like WikiLeaks. But they managed to find the resources to go after a freelance journalist covering a trade agreement.
Luckily, WikiLeaks shares the same disbelief in this statement as most. The organization discussed its stance on the report in a statement
Anonymous US officials with obscure motivations and unknown authority do not have a good track record in this matter or in any other… It remains to be seen whether the claims by these unknown, anonymous officials are more than just an attempt to reduce public support for WikiLeaks.
Ecuador s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño meeting with Julian Assange at the embassy in London  Jun...
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño meeting with Julian Assange at the embassy in London, June 17, 2013.
YouTube
It seems that the public has finally seen horror on horror’s face and identified the Department of Justice as the secret police agency that it is, and many view this decision to be nothing more than a ploy to entice Mr. Assange to leave the safety of the Ecuadorian Embassy.
This is a house of cards and while many may see WikiLeaks as some distant cousin of journalism, rather than pure investigative journalism, it should be noted that in an age of government secrecy and draconian sentences for those that violate that secrecy, the WikiLeaks style of guerrilla journalism may be the only type of journalism left soon. The very fact that that those that have leaked to WikiLeaks have gone to prison or been indicted shows that DOJ is not a friend to journalism. When all else fails, a massive public leak of documents may be the only card journalists have left to play when trying to expose the wrongdoings of a government with a secrecy apparatus grown out of control.
This idea that the DOJ’s stance somehow demonstrates their goodwill towards the First Amendment is ludicrous. It might do some good to remember how long it took to reach the decision, and remember that the organization has not fully committed to the decision yet. If the lawyers in the DOJ believed for a split second they could indict Mr. Assange and not suffer a full scale uprising in the press, they would. And please remember that the jury is literally still out on this. The Grand Jury deciding Assange’s fate is still impaneled. An entity attempting to portray itself as a friend to journalists, would be better served by not trying to stifle the free flow of information, not spying on their phone records, not pulling surveillance on them, and not trying any way possible to get around the First Amendment and imprison someone simply for sharing information the public has a right to know. If WikiLeaks is shutdown or intimidated into closing, that will be the beginning of the end for a free press in this and many other nations.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador s Embassy in centra...
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador's Embassy in central London on Sunday afternoon. The embassy was heavily guarded by a big contingent of London police. Assange's supporters gathered on the sidewalk across the embassy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador s Embassy in centra...
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador's Embassy in central London on Sunday afternoon. The embassy was heavily guarded by a big contingent of London police. Assange's supporters gathered on the sidewalk across the embassy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador s Embassy in centra...
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador's Embassy in central London on Sunday afternoon. The embassy was heavily guarded by a big contingent of London police. Assange's supporters gathered on the sidewalk across the embassy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador s Embassy in centra...
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador's Embassy in central London on Sunday afternoon. The embassy was heavily guarded by a big contingent of London police. Assange's supporters gathered on the sidewalk across the embassy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador s Embassy in centra...
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the second-floor balcony of Ecuador's Embassy in central London on Sunday afternoon. The embassy was heavily guarded by a big contingent of London police. Assange's supporters gathered on the sidewalk across the embassy.
The latest news developments in the Julian Assange story at Ecuador s embassy in central London are ...
The latest news developments in the Julian Assange story at Ecuador's embassy in central London are depicted in the still pictures taken Friday (Aug. 17) afternoon in front of the embassy in Chelsea.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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