One hundred and five years ago Congress passed the Espionage Act. This misnamed act may sound like a bill targeting spies and saboteurs, but it has been used to silence dissent and censor information. Currently, the Espionage Act is used to prosecute journalists’ sources who alert the public to serious abuses of power. The DOJ is also trying to extradite Julian Assange to the US under this act, potentially setting a precedent that could be used to prosecute any media outlet, including the New York Times.
We need Congress to amend the Espionage Act so it can no longer be used against journalists and whistleblowers. Right now, prosecutors do not need to prove a whistleblower charged under the Espionage Act intended to harm US national security and whistleblowers are barred from testifying before a jury about why they took the actions they did. And the overly broad Espionage Act as written does not only apply to government employees with security clearances, but those who have no legal duty to protect classified information, including the journalists and the public writ large, giving it a potentially limitless scope.
Additionally, members of Congress should call on President Biden to commute the sentence of drone whistleblower Daniel Hale and Attorney General Merrick Garland to drop the charges against Julian Assange.
Tell Congress to reform the Espionage Act and end the persecution of journalists and whistleblowers!
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