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Latest charges for Julian Assange accentuate collapse of press freedoms

We are peering dangerously over a cliff from which there is no return.

Americans are a lucky people, even though our trying times may not allow for this opinion to be widely held today.

Here in the United States we enjoy a level of freedom that few outside our borders are afforded.  This liberty was written into our nation’s DNA by the Founding Fathers via the Constitution, and it is our duty as Americans to protect it.

These days, that’s getting harder and harder.

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Now, new charges for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange have taken a bite out of one of America’s most previous liberties:  The freedom of the press.

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Assange, 47, was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in April after the U.S. government charged him with conspiracy to hack a government computer used by then army officer Chelsea Manning to leak classified information about the Iraq War. Ecuador withdrew his asylum request seven years after he first entered the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face unrelated allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange was later jailed in the U.K. for a year for breaking bail while he was in the embassy.

According to the newly unsealed indictment, Assange faces 17 new charges — including publishing classified information — under the Espionage Act, a law typically reserved for spies working against the U.S. or whistleblowers and leakers who worked for the U.S. intelligence community.

Concerns are that Assange’s charges could be used against any organization who chooses to publish once-classified US documents, severely limiting the ability of the free press to conduct governmental oversight.

When we lose this right through litigation, the federal government grows stronger and bolder – which is precisely the opposite direction in which we as Americans should be headed.

Accountability in government is paramount to the idea of freedom, and we must remember always that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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