Julian Assange may soon be facing criminal charges.
But that would most likely be a theoretical exercise.
The founder of WikiLeaks remains holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, shielded from sexual assault allegations in Sweden.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, in response to a question about Assange, that going after leakers, and putting them in jail, is a “priority.” CNN and others have reported that the Justice Department is already preparing charges against Assange.
So while Donald Trump may have declared during the campaign that “I love WikiLeaks,” his administration is far less enamored of the group.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said last week, “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”
But with Ecuador’s new socialist president indicating that Assange will continue to receive asylum, the Australian seems safe from future prosecution.
In the court of public opinion, though, views of Assange seem to vary depending on the nature of his targets.
When WikiLeaks was spewing out hacked emails from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign last year, it wasn’t just Trump who applauded. Some Republicans and conservatives who had been highly critical of Assange in the past now welcomed his work.
It was a very different situation in 2010, when WikiLeaks was dumping classified information obtained by the Army intelligence officer now known as Chelsea Manning. Many on the right ripped the group for jeopardizing U.S. national security.
Assange markets himself as a media watchdog exposing wrongdoing. "Quite simply, our motive is identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post -- to publish newsworthy content," he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
In fact, a complicating issue when the Obama administration looked at bringing charges is that the Times and other papers had also published classified data from the Manning leaks.
The reality is that he actively looks for ways to undermine the United States -- and, in the case of the last campaign, help Trump by damaging Clinton, perhaps in collusion with Russian hackers.
WikiLeaks tweaked Trump over the weekend by retweeting his earlier declaration of love for the organization.
Whether Assange broke the law would probably be difficult to prove -- and in any event, it’s doubtful he will ever be brought to trial.
This looks like real news to me...every media outlet is reporting it...including quotes from Trump himself.
The Trump Administration’s declaration of war on whistleblowers and Wikileaks is one of the greatest disappointments in these first 100 days. Donald Trump rode into the White House with promises that he would “drain the swamp,” meaning that he would overturn the apple carts of Washington’s vested interests. By unleashing those same vested interests on those who hold them in check – the whistleblowers and those who publish their revelations – he has turned his back on those who elected him.
Julian Assange, along with the whistleblowers who reveal to us the evil that is being done in our name, are heroes. They deserve our respect and admiration, not a prison cell. If we allow this president to declare war on those who tell the truth, we have only ourselves to blame.
After announcing that he’d ordered U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack on civilians, President Donald Trump closed his remarks with a refrain that has been common among presidents since Ronald Reagan: “God bless America.”
But he didn’t stop there. Instead, he went on, adding, “and the entire world.”