The US government has now indicted Assange on 17 new counts under the Espionage Act. Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971, told Democracy Now! in response that:
There hasn’t actually been such a significant attack on the freedom of the press… since my case in 1971.
Executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) Bruce Brown, meanwhile, said:
Any government use of the Espionage Act to criminalize the receipt and publication of classified information poses a dire threat to journalists seeking to publish such information in the public interest, irrespective of the Justice Department’s assertion that Assange is not a journalist.
Assange is currently serving 50 weeks in Belmarsh prison for skipping bail – a sentence WikiLeaks described as “shocking and vindictive”. The UN working group on arbitrary detention also said it was a “disproportionate sentence” for what it described as a “minor violation”.
The letter attributed to Assange was sent to independent journalist Gordon Dimmack, who was among many to write to Assange over recent weeks. Dimmack explains that he was reluctant to share the letter before the US government’s latest indictment against Assange.
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