Manning’s conviction seen as making prosecution of WikiLeaks’ Assange likely

The Washington Post reports: The conviction of Army private Bradley Manning on espionage charges Tuesday makes it increasingly likely that the United States will prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a co-conspirator, according to his attorney and civil liberties groups.

Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, found Manning guilty of several violations of the Espionage Act, and he could face life in prison. Press freedom advocates said the verdict adds to their alarm that the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of leakers will discourage whistleblowers from providing critical information on military and intelligence matters.

Military prosecutors in the court-martial portrayed Assange as an “information anarchist” who encouraged Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents. And they insisted that the anti-secrecy group cannot be considered a media organization that published the leaked information in the public interest.

Defense attorneys denied “the claim that Bradley Manning was acting under the direction of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, but the government kept trying to bring that up, trying to essentially say that Julian was a co-conspirator,” said Michael Ratner, Assange’s American attorney and the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. “That’s a very bad sign about what the U.S. government wants to do to Julian Assange.” [Continue reading…]

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