The Rutherford Institute has denounced the US government’s attempts to extradite and prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for his part in disclosing information relating to government misconduct that is within the public’s right to know. Assange was arrested on charges of helping US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning access and leak more than 700,000 classified military documents that raise significant ethical and legal questions about the government’s war efforts abroad.
“In the absence of any real system of checks and balances among the three branches of government—i.e., with Congress, the courts and the Executive Branch working together to advance the government’s agenda at the expense of the citizenry’s constitutional rights—it is more vital than ever that the media serve as a check on the government. That is why freedom of the press is such an integral part of our First Amendment,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “America’s founders understood the importance of the press in serving as a check on the government’s power grabs, as well as maintaining an educated citizenry and a transparent government. But freedom of the press will not make much of a difference if journalists are afraid to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our government and pull back the veil on corruption and wrongdoing.”
The government’s prosecution of journalists and whistleblowers began under the Obama Administration and has continued under the Trump Administration. As Bloomberg News reported: “Eric Holder, attorney general under President Barack Obama, has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined.
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