The War on Leaks Has Gone Way Too Far When Journalists' Emails Are Under Surveillance

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The War on Leaks Has Gone Way Too Far When Journalists' Emails Are Under Surveillance

The US government’s demands for the private emails of WikiLeaks staffers is outrageous. Disliking Julian Assange is a disgraceful reason for anyone to stay silent

Think whatever you like about Assange. But be outraged that the US government is reading his staff members’ personal emails. (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The outrageous legal attack on WikiLeaks and its staffers, who are exercising their First Amendment rights to publish classified information in the public interest—just like virtually every other major news organization in this country—is an attack on freedom of the press itself, and it’s shocking that more people aren’t raising their voices (and pens, and keyboards) in protest.

In the past four years, WikiLeaks has had their Twitter accounts secretly spied on, been forced to forfeit most of their funding after credit card companies unilaterally cut them off, had the FBI place an informant inside their news organization, watched their supporters hauled before a grand jury, and been the victim of the UK spy agency GCHQ hacking of their website and spying on their readers.

Now we’ve learned that, as The Guardian reported on Sunday, the Justice Department got a warrant in 2012 to seize the contents – plus the metadata on emails received, sent, drafted and deleted – of three WikiLeaks’ staffers personal Gmail accounts, which was inexplicably kept secret from them for almost two and a half years.

The warrant for WikiLeaks staffers’ email is likely connected to the grand jury the government convened in 2010 to investigate the WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked State Department cables, along with the Afghan and Iraq war logs. As The Guardian reports:

The warrants were issued by a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia – the same jurisdiction in which a grand jury was set up under the criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. The investigation was confirmed to be still active and ongoing as recently as May last year. [Emphasis mine.]

Most journalists and press freedom groups have been inexplicably quiet about the Justice Department’s treatment of WikiLeaks and its staffers ever since, despite the fact that there has been a (justified) backlash against the rest of the Justice Department’s attempt to subpoena reporters’ phone call records and spy on their emails. But almost all of the tactics used against WikiLeaks by the Justice Department in their war on leakswere also used against mainstream news organizations.

Read the full article at The Guardian.

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and legal analyst who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian and has also contributed to The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Harvard Law and Policy Review, PBS MediaShift, and Politico. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorTimm

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