By Tom Coburg
August 01, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - A US judge has ruled that WikiLeaks was fully entitled to publish the Democratic National Congress (DNC) emails, which means no law was broken. The ruling is highly significant as it could impact upon the US extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as the ongoing imprisonment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet.
In other words, if WikiLeaks is subject to prosecution, then every media outlet in the world would be. The judge argued that:
[T]he First Amendment prevents such liability in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place.
A person is entitled to publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source so long as the publisher did not participate in the theft.
Jen Robinson, a member of Assange’s legal team, described the judge’s ruling as an “important win for free speech”:
An important win for free speech: we have won our motion to dismiss for @wikileaks in the @DNC lawsuit against #Assange, WikiLeaks et al over the 2016 US election publications on First Amendment grounds. Full judgment: https://t.co/SZmyLd1Z83 Key passages: pic.twitter.com/Kq6dJkuSIc
— Jen Robinson (@suigenerisjen) July 31, 2019
And US WikiLeaks lawyer Joshua Dratel said he was:
very gratified with the result, which reaffirms First Amendment principles that apply to journalists across the board, whether they work for large institutions or small independent operations.
Prior to the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was party to a briefing to the court.
The ACLU summarised some of the legal precedents listed in the briefing. For example, the First Amendment of the US Constitution is a:
Are You Tired Of The Lies And Non-Stop Propaganda?