WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange will most likely not face charges for leaking NSA documents, Sari Horwitz reports in The Washington Post, “because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.”
The Obama administration has charged government employees and contractors who leak classified information — such as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning — with violations of the Espionage Act. But officials said that although Assange published classified documents, he did not leak them, something they said significantly affects their legal analysis.
Officials have a “New York Times problem,” Horwitz writes, understanding if they press charges against Assange, they’d have to do the same against U.S. media outlets that reported the story, including The Times and the Post.
In a previous story, Horwitz reported Attorney General Eric Holder said he wasn’t planning to prosecute Glenn Greenwald.
Justice officials said that the same distinction between leaker and journalist or publisher is being made between Manning and Assange. One former law enforcement official said the U.S. government could bring charges against Assange if it discovered a crime, such as evidence that he directly hacked into a U.S. government computer. But the Justice officials said he would almost certainly not be prosecuted for receiving classified material from Manning.