The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting US news organisations and journalists, United States officials say.
The officials stressed that a formal decision has not been taken and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impanelled, but they said there is little possibility of bringing a case against the Australian, who has sought asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top secret military and diplomatic documents.
The Obama administration has charged government employees and contractors who leak classified information – such as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning – with violations of the Espionage Act.
But officials said that although Assange published classified documents, he did not leak them, something they said significantly affects their legal analysis.
I thin that is the right analysis. It is the leaker who breaks the law, not those who receive them.
He is facing sexual assault charges in Sweden. Assange and some of his supporters have said he fears that if he goes to Sweden to face those charges, he will be extradited to the United States.
But current and former US officials have dismissed that defence.
“He is hiding out in the embassy to avoid a sexual assault charge in Sweden,” Miller said. “It has nothing to do with the US government.”
Assange should stop hiding in the embassy and allow his alleged victims to have their day in court. He may well be found not guilty, but he is not above the law and should stand trial just as anyone else would.