June 12, 2019 08:11
The Espionage charges against Assange have provoked outrage among press freedom advocates who worry that the government could use the law to prosecute others for distributing confidential defense information.
Yet it remains far from certain that Assange will stand trial in the United States. That is because the U.S.-U.K. treaty prohibits extradition for the specific charges Assange faces.
"Espionage is generally considered a political offense, and the treaty forbids extraditing someone charged with political offenses," John T. Nelson, a legal fellow at the Just Security blog, wrote recently.
Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as "an intelligence agency of the people." To obtain secret documents to publish on his website, he "repeatedly encouraged sources with access to classified information to steal and provide it to WikiLeaks to disclose," prosecutors wrote in the superseding indictment.
Assange took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid possible extradition to Sweden to face charges that he raped a Swedish woman. A Swedish court ruled last week that Assange should not be extradited to Sweden but should still be questioned in the case while he is imprisoned in Britain.
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