Democratic National Committee v. Russian Federation

A lawsuit against WikiLeaks implicating important press freedoms

On March 13, 2019, the Knight Institute, the ACLU, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed an amicus brief in support of WikiLeaks’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by the Democratic National Committee.

In its lawsuit, the DNC argues that the Trump campaign, Russian officials, WikiLeaks, and others conspired to hack the DNC and to leak the material obtained, in the lead-up to the 2016 election. WikiLeaks moved to dismiss the case, in part on First Amendment grounds.

In its amicus brief, the Knight Institute argued that the First Amendment generally protects the publication of truthful information of public concern, so long as the publishing party was “not involved in the initial illegality.” The brief explained that the press has relied on this protection to report on major stories — from the Pentagon Papers to the Panama Papers — to inform the public and hold the powerful to account.

Status: On July 30, 2019, the district court granted WikiLeaks’s motion to dismiss, holding that the First Amendment protects WikiLeaks's publication of information stolen from the DNC.

Case Information: Democratic Nat'l Comm. v. Russian Fed'n, No. 18-cv-03501-JGK (S.D.N.Y.).


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