NEW YORK — London authorities today arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of U.S. authorities.
Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, issued the following comment in response:
“Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public's interest.
In response to the unsealed indictement, Wizner added:
"Criminally prosecuting a publisher for the publication of truthful information would be a first in American history, and unconstitutional. The government did not cross that Rubicon with today’s indictment, but the worst case scenario cannot yet be ruled out. We have no assurance that these are the only charges the government plans to bring against Mr. Assange. Further, while there is no First Amendment right to crack a government password, this indictment characterizes as ‘part of’ a criminal conspiracy the routine and protected activities journalists often engage in as part of their daily jobs, such as encouraging a source to provide more information. Given President Trump’s and his administration’s well-documented attacks on the freedom of the press, such characterizations are especially worrisome.”
**Updated on April 11, 2019, at 3 p.m. ET to include comment in response to the unsealed indictment.