Criminalizing Journalism: Manning, Media and You

On Tuesday, Bradley Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy” for leaking 700,000 classified government documents, including a video of an American airstrike in Baghdad that killed 12 civilians, among them two Reuters journalists.

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Acts of Journalism and the Espionage Act

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors filed a formal criminal complaint against Edward Snowden charging him with three felonies for leaking information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian and Barton Gellman at the Washington Post. Two of those charges were filed under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Snowden is the seventh person the Obama administration has charged with violating the Espionage Act for leaking information to the press. Prior to 2008, only three other people had been charged with felonies under the Espionage Act for leaking documents.

Indeed, the first time the Espionage Act was applied to a whistleblower was in the case of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. Read the rest