The mainstream media and some of the less bright US politicians are claiming that Wikileaks is acting illegally, which is then used as a Justification for taking down (well, let’s say attempt to) of Wikileak’s web presence and freezing of their financial assets.
This is patently false.
During the Pentagon Papers leak – President Nixon claimed executive authority to force the New York Times to suspend publication of the leak story.
In other words, I’m the boss, I am the law.
Fortunately, America’s forefathers placed a system of checks and balances into the US Constitution to prevent this sort of Dictatorial decree, the First Amendment.
Freedom of the press is protected, which prevents the government from interfering with the reporting and distributing of information and opinion.
There have been many legal precedents preventing government trying to break this amendment.
In Lovell v. City of Griffin, Chief Justice Hughes defined the press as, “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” This includes everything from newspapers to blogs.
These precendents show that what Wikileaks is doing is completely legal unless the first amendment is removed from the US Constitution.
Are there illegal acts related to the latest Wikileaks release?Â For the original leaker the answer is probably yes, but only to the original source of the documents, alleged to be Bradley Manning.
How about copyright infringement – the law being used to Justify taking down the wikileaks sites?
A work of the United States government, as defined by United States copyright law, is “a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person’s official duties.” The term only applies to the work of the federal government, including the governments of “non-organized territorial areas” under the jurisdiction of the U.S Government, but not state or local governments. In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law, sometimes referred to as “noncopyright.”
In summary, Wikileaks is working within U.S. Law and there is no legal basis for persecution or prosecution.