Annual Report 2022 by the partner organisations to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists.
The case of Julian Assange has been particularly scrutinised. The Wikileaks founder has been in detention since April 2019 in the UK. Press freedom groups consider the US extradition proceedings, based on the US 1917 Espionage Act, as a global threat to national security reporting and whistleblowing, especially relating to actions taken by the military in situations of conflict that might amount to war crimes.
Journalists and lawyers, fear that it could set a dangerous precedent in the US where national security journalism has been largely protected by the Supreme Court’s 1971 landmark decision The New York Times. v. United States, which made possible the publication of the then classified Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War. However, the extra-territorial application of the US Espionage Act could also threaten any journalist anywhere for publishing classified US information. As the International Bar Association’s US correspondent Michael Goldhaber contends, it could “leave future publishers of intelligence leaks at the mercy of prosecutorial discretion”. A guilty verdict would also embolden governments around the world and give them a handy excuse to criminalise the release of national security or information about human rights abuses which have a clear public interest.