Illustration: Reuters/William Hennessy
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.
While aiding the enemy was the most serious charge he faced, Manning was still found guilty of numerous counts of espionage and other charges, which could land him in jail for the rest of his life.
And while many journalists are breathing a sigh of relief about the aiding-the-enemy decision, we shouldn’t forget how hard the government pushed for that particular conviction. Read the rest
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