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In Any U.S. Prosecution Of WikiLeaks' Assange, Collusion Will Be Key Issue

There's more to think about this morning on the issue of whether the U.S. government might be able to bring criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for exposing hundreds of thousands of previously secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

The New York Times writes that:

"Federal prosecutors ... are looking for evidence of any collusion in (Assange's) early contacts with an Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information. Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them."

This goes back to the question of whether the Espionage Act might be used to prosecute Assange. As NPR's Carrie Johnson has reported, a key hurdle will be determining whether WikiLeaks "is a member of the media that warrants special free speech protections, or more like a rogue operation dedicated to hurting the U.S."

Famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams told Morning Edition last month that some of the things Assange has said in the past might help the goverment make such a case.

As Korva reported earlier, Assange can now leave a British jail on bail. He's been held there as authorities decide whether he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning about alleged sex crimes.

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