NEW YORK—U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ro Khanna today introduced legislation to reform the Espionage Act. The bill would narrow the Act to prevent the government from prosecuting journalists merely for obtaining or publishing classified information.
The following response can be attributed to Alex Abdo, Litigation Director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
“This is a crucial effort to ensure that it isn’t a crime for national-security journalists to do their jobs. The bill would make clear that the everyday work of journalists isn’t an act of espionage. These protections for journalists are vital. It is also vital that Congress enact additional protections for national-security whistleblowers, who must risk personal and professional sanction to expose government malfeasance and corruption.”
In April of last year, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing classified documents in 2010. The indictment characterizes routine journalistic activities as “part of” a criminal conspiracy.
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