The New York Times and four major European newspapers — The Guardian in Britain, Le Monde in France, Der Spiegel in Germany and El País in Spain — recently urged the Biden administration to drop all charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In a joint letter, the newspapers said, “This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.” The letter ends with the words “Publishing is not a crime.” Assange, who is jailed in Britain, faces up to 175 years in a U.S. prison on espionage and hacking charges for exposing U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The five publications had partnered with WikiLeaks in 2010 to report on documents leaked by Chelsea Manning. “The prosecution of Assange … would set a clear and devastating precedent in the United States that could be applied to any of these organizations, journalists, going forward,” says Carrie DeCell, senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
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