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The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange following his expulsion from Ecuador’s embassy in London on April 11 sparked debate among journalists about the dangerous precedents his case could set. Are the journalists who won awards reporting leaks Assange published hypocritical if they now support his arrest? Would successfully prosecuting Assange on accusations of a hacking conspiracy that involved helping Chelsea Manning crack passwords to disclose classified material allow the prosecution of journalists for reporting other classified materials leaked to them in the future? The Justice Department’s year-old indictment against Assange, which you can read here, includes an accusation of conduct that could arguably be considered a breach of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics: Assange agreed to help Chelsea Manning “crack” a password to a Defense Department computer. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, an advocacy group that provides pro bono legal representation to journalists, weighed in on Assange’s arrest with prescient discernment. “It bears repeating that no one is outside the protection of the First Amendment. The singular allegation that Assange may have attempted to crack a password takes this case out of the ‘easy’ category for press freedom advocates. The government would be mad, reckless — or, worse, actively anti-democratic — to bring a similar case without the password-cracking angle.” Assange’s case raises compelling questions about what the First Amendment protects and what it does not. Cultivating a source, protecting a source’s identity, communicating with a source securely—the indictment describes all of these activities as the ‘manners and means’ of the conspiracy.” Would the Justice Department necessarily prosecute other journalists for these daily news gathering practices if it wins its case against Assange? As the Committee writes, “time will tell how this plays out.”
A huge row is brewing after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested yesterday at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has lived for the past seven years. The government of Ecuador revoked his asylum and invited police officers to take him away from its premises in Knightsbridge. He was found guilty of failing to surrender to court. Assange now faces extradition to United States for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, over the leaks of millions of classified government documents. His colleagues at Wikileaks claim he could face the death penalty, but Washington insists that the computer hacking charge against him carries a maximum of five years. Further charges could yet be brought. It sets the scene for a political battle, as while Theresa May has welcomed Assange’s arrest, Jeremy Corbyn says his extradition “for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed”. She invoked the case of Gary McKinnon, who hacked into US computers but whose extradition was blocked on human rights grounds by May in 2012, when the prime minister was home secretary. But Labour’s position could yet change if it becomes clear that Sweden would go on to extradite Assange to the US. However things play out, the case is sure to cause friction within Labour.
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In a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he found it "deeply concerning" that CNN was outside of Roger Stone's house the morning of his arrest.
Good Friday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today. The detention may bolster efforts to contain China and Iran, but it could upend trade talks between the world’s two largest economies. • News of Ms. Weng’s arrest sent stock markets around the world tumbling on Thursday as concerns of an emerging cold war between the United States and China intensified. • A new study utilizing satellite imagery says North Korea is expanding a missile base that would be one of its most likely sites for deploying intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. • From the earliest days of his campaign, Mr. Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants. • Elizabeth Warren’s decision to take a DNA test to prove her claims of Native American ancestry was roundly criticized. • Mr. Trump is strongly considering nominating William P. Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Democrats are now likely to take 40 seats from Republicans as they decisively capture control of the House. But some Republican leaders are being accused of downplaying the bill’s support to avoid a vote.
Frenchman convicted of industrial espionage by Swiss in 2015 Falciani arrested in Spain for second time on Swiss charges Former HSBC Holdings Plc computer specialist Herve Falciani is in trouble again in Spain, and this time may be at risk of getting caught up in a Catalan political drama. The Frenchman stole client data and then leaked the information to authorities, triggering tax-evasion probes across Europe. It’s the second time the Swiss tried to get him from Spain, where judges rejected his extradition in 2013 because his actions in Switzerland weren’t illegal in Spain. Politics in Spain have been upset by the Catalan separatist movement, and there’s been speculation that the Swiss could demand Falciani in return for pro-independence leaders who fled for Switzerland earlier this year. “It would be difficult to see why the Spanish would accede to the request if nothing has changed.” On Thursday, Falciani appeared at a hearing in Madrid, where a judge turned down a request by Spanish prosecutors to hold him while the extradition request is considered. Puigdemont, himself, was released on 75,000 euros ($92,000) bail in Germany after a court declined to consider a Spanish judge’s request to have Puigdemont extradited on rebellion charges. Falciani was convicted of industrial espionage, which is considered a political crime against the state, and acquitted of charges he violated commercial and banking secrecy rules, Henzelin said. Laurent Moreillon, HSBC’s lawyer, told reporters after the trial that Falciani’s “a thief and a liar,” and that his argument he was a whistle-blower was “pure invention and is a lesson to anyone who might try the same thing.” Penalty Nevertheless, HSBC’s Swiss unit agreed to a pay penalty of 40 million Swiss francs ($42 million) to end a probe into allegations of money laundering by the Geneva prosecutor’s office and avoid criminal charges. The day after Falciani’s arrest on Wednesday, the FOJ submitted a formal request for extradition. Spanish authorities informed the Swiss last month that the arrest warrant would be valid in Spain, the spokesman said.