UPDATE December 13
ABC news report today: Espionage Act Presents Challenges for WikiLeaks Indictment "Sweeping Anti-Spying Law 'Makes Felons of Us All,' Legal Expert Says." Report is a good introduction to the complexities in bringing an indictment under the Espionage Act; also it quotes Eric Holder as saying that the Act isn't the only law under which the Justice Department might charge Assange.
Assange got sloppy, according to John Loftus, a former intelligence officer and U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor. Sloppy is right; reportedly he released some of the Wikileaks State Department cables to a Hezbollah-run newspaper. Hezbollah is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. That means he can be indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act even though he's not a U.S. citizen.
Listen to the podcast of Loftus's conversation with John Batchelor for an explanation of the Act and how it impacts Assange's situation. Or download the show segment (10:00 PM, Friday night).
The conversation is directly after John's interview with Sebastian Gorka about the most likely successor to Saudi King Abdullah -- the very creepy Prince Naif, aka 'The Prince of Darkness.' So it's not as if you'll be bored waiting for the Loftus interview on the podcast.
In light of Loftus's discussion, I suppose I was too jaded in my initial reaction to the State cables leaks, which was to see them as a modern version of The School for Scandal. The situation is considerably more serious than that.
As to whether Assange would try to bully his way out of prosecution by acting on his threat to dump yet more documents: then he'd be looking at the death penalty, explained Loftus, if he was prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
But the world will just have to wait and see whether DOJ brings the indictment or uses the threat of indictment to persuade Assange to cease and desist.
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