by Cathy Drummond
After years of political and criminal haggling, and social ramblings on both sides, Julian Assange’s extradition hearing is finally set to begin in London. Citing Aljazeera.com, Assange, the Wikileaks Founder, is due in a London Court on Monday to finally begin the process, to decide his fate. To be extradited or not. The United States government’s case of Espionage will be weighed against whether the case against Assange was politically motivated.
In May of 2019, a U.S. grand jury indicted Assange on 17 charges under the U.S. Espionage Act. Citing mtsu.edu, was made into law on June 15, 1917, right after the end of the first World war. The purpose of the act was to ban the dissemination of information the government has deemed offensive and may hurt the United States in some way.
Also, under the Espionage of 1917, criminal (penalties) which related to (enlistment obstruction) were included as well. In addition, under the Wilson administration, all written material “urging treason,” was “nonmailable matter,” and constituted obstruction as well, all done to “limit dissent.”
However, in 1918, the Espionage Act, according to mtsu.edu, began to infringe on First Amendments rights. Because at the time, approximately 74 newspapers were being denied (mailing privileges.) But, in 1919 Supreme Court hearing, In Schneck versus U.S., the U.S. Supreme court ruled the act was Constitutional. Citing Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes, who said that wartime dangers made the Espionage Act justifiable.
Since then, most of the original Act has be repealed. However, the (teeth) of the Act still remains to this day. However, most recently in 1973, Newspapers were facing charges of leaking the Pentagon Papers. But, the charges were eventually dismissed. And, the most recent example of someone being charged under the Espionage Act was Edward Snowden. Snowden has since sought Asylum in Russia.
So, now, in 2019, Assange is also charged with the Espionage Act. And, citing cnn.com, U.S. government Prosecutors, on Monday, have also raised bar to contend Assange put the lives of the informants and sources when he released the (unredacted) version of these documents. It is also being reported that some are missing.
And, so, overall, these documents are ‘classified’ and are tied to the U.S. National defense. In the London court on Monday, U.S. Government Counsel James Lewis, further exerted Assange has caused harm to U.S. forces operations abroad in their (capabilities) to carry out their duties. And that, “Reporting or journalism is not a license for criminality.
Citing the guardian.com, the British court will have the final word of the extradition. The trial is expected to extend into May. And, in addition, it is also being reported that Assange’s legal team may seek Asylum for him in France. But, in the meantime, supporters have set up tents outside the London courthouse.
Stay tuned. This is still a developing story.