ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition

The U.S. is trying to extradite Julian Assange to stand trial for espionage, but even though sedition is no longer on the books, that’s what the U.S. is really charging him with, says Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The United States has had two sedition laws in its history. Both were repealed within three years. Britain repealed its 17th Century sedition law in 2009. Though this crime is no longer on the books, the crime of sedition is really what both governments are accusing Julian Assange of.

The campaign of smears, the weakness of the case and the language of his indictment proves it.

The imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher has been indicted on 17 counts of espionage under the 1917 U.S. Espionage Act on a technicality: the unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified material—something that has been performed by countless journalists and publishers over the decades. It conflicts head on with the First Amendment.

But espionage isn’t really what the government is after. Assange did not pass state secrets to an enemy of the United States, as in a classic espionage case, but rather to the public, which the government might well consider the enemy.

Deep Roots

Assange revealed crimes and corruption by the state. Punishing such legitimate criticism of government as sedition has deep roots in British and American history.

Tybun Tree, place of execution near where Marble Arch now stands in London.

Sedition was seen in the Elizabethan era as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority.” Punishment included beheading and dismemberment. 

“In their efforts to suppress political discussion or criticism of the government or the governors of Tudor England, the Privy Council and royal judges needed a new formulation of a criminal offence … This new crime they found in the offence of sedition, which was defined and punished by the Court of Star Chamber.… If the facts alleged were true, that only made the offence worse,” wrote historian Roger B. Manning. Sedition fell short of treason and did not need to provoke violence.

Though the Star Chamber was abolished in 1641, the British Sedition Act of 1661, a year after the Restoration, said, “…a seditious intention is an intention to bring into hatred or contempt, or to exite disaffection against the person of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, or the government and constitution of the United Kingdom.” 

Part of the 1798 U.S. Sedition Act.

Under President John Adams, the first U.S. Sedition Act in 1798 put it this way:

“To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the United States, or to stir up sedition, or to excite unlawful combinations against the government, or to resist it, or to aid or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.”

While WikiLeaks publications have never been proven false, the U.S. government is certainly portraying its work as “scandalous and malicious writing against the United States” and has accused him of encouraging “hostile designs” against the country. 

Congress did not renew the Act in 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson pardoned those serving sentences for sedition and refunded their fines. 

Second US Sedition Act

When President Woodrow Wilson backed the Espionage Act in 1917 he lost by one Senate vote on an amendment that would have legalized government censorship.   

So the following year Wilson pushed for another amendment to the Espionage Act. It was called the Sedition Act, added on May 16, 1918 by a vote of 48 to 26 in the Senate and 293 to 1 in the House.

1918 protest in front of the White House against the Sedition Act.

The media at the time supported the Sedition Act much as it works today against its own interests by abandoning the seditious Assange. Author James Mock, in his 1941 book Censorship 1917, said most U.S. newspapers “showed no antipathy toward the act” and “far from opposing the measure, the leading papers seemed actually to lead the movement in behalf of its speedy enactment.”

Among other things, the 1918 Sedition Act stated that: 

“…whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute, or shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any language intended to incite, provoke, or encourage resistance to the United States.” 

The U.S. has certainly seen revealing prima facia evidence of U.S. war crimes and corruption as being “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive” towards the U.S. government and military. 

Debs & Assange

A month after the 1918 Sedition Act was passed, socialist leader Eugene Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison for publicly opposing the military draft. In a June 1918 speech he said: “If war is right let it be declared by the people. You who have your lives to lose, you certainly above all others have the right to decide the momentous issue of war or peace.”

While in jail Debs received one million votes for president in the 1920 election.  Assange’s defiance of the U.S. government went well beyond Debs’ anti-war speech by uncovering war crimes and corruption.

Debs at a 1918 rally, shortly before being arrested for sedition for opposing the draft. (Wikimedia Commons)

For being seditious, Debs and Assange are the most prominent political prisoners in U.S. history.

Despite an attempt by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer (of the anti-red Palmer Raids) to establish a peacetime Sedition Act, it was repealed in 1921–but not before thousands of people were charged with sedition. 

It was repealed because it was not seen as befitting a democratic society.  Prosecuting Assange no longer arouses such widespread sentiment.

Except for a technicality in the Espionage Act, which needs to be challenged on constitutional grounds, the U.S. has no case against Assange. The weakness of the government’s case points to it falling back on the abolished crime of sedition as the real, unstated charge.

The Accusations

The superseding indictment against Assange makes plain that official Washington is acting out of a fit of pique more than a sense of injustice. It is angry at Assange for revealing its dirty deeds. 

He is seen not only as having acted disrespectfully to the U.S. government, but also stirring up popular opposition. In other words, he has committed an act of sedition.  Because that crime is no longer on the books, it has to be described in a different way.

There is really only one technical infraction of the law that Assange is being accused of:  unauthorized possession and dissemination. The rest of the indictment is about behavior that is not illegal, but what can be called seditious. 

The Espionage Act indictment is so weak that it can only resort to an accusation that Assange endangered U.S. “national security” and aiding the enemy with no evidence to prove that that had ever happened.

‘Sedition Law Passed’

Instead U.S. officials have been incensed with Assange for the embarrassment of uncovering their crimes and corruption.  Since sedition is no longer on the books, they are only left with Section 793, paragraph (e) of the Espionage Act:  the unauthorized possession and dissemination charge.

Innumerable journalists over the decades have possessed and disseminated classified information and continue to do so.  Every citizen who has retweeted a WikiLeaks document has possessed and disseminated classified information. As the first journalist charged with this, a constitutional conflict is set up with the First Amendment, which will likely be challenged in court if Assange is extradited to the U.S.  (A U.S. senator and a representative last month introduced a bill that would exempt journalists from paragraph (e)).

Left with no serious charge against him, the indictment is in line with the condemnation of Assange by U.S. officials, such as former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who called him a “high-tech terrorist” and a British judge who called him a “narcissist.”  

In other words, Assange has insulted the powerful in the manner of an Elizabethan subject. He’s being accused of sedition, including stirring up dissent and unrest, such as in Tunisia, which sparked the Arab uprisings of 2010-2011.

Assange revealed what corporate media covers up: part of the long post-war U.S. history of overthrowing governments and using violence to spread its influence over the globe. He showed the U.S. motive is not spreading democracy but expanding its economic and geo-strategic interests. It is plainly seditious to do so contrary to a power-worshipping corporate media suppressing these historical facts.   

Sedition is evidently a crime whose time has covertly come again. 

Part Two in this series will be on The History of the Espionage Act and How it Ensnared Julian Assange.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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34 comments for “ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition

  1. TS
    May 1, 2020 at 04:33

    Thank you for indicating that the Espionage Act is really the Sedition Act revived. And of course, not just Debs, but most of the people prosecuted under it were not foreign spies, but domestic opponents of the government and ruling class.

    > “The media at the time supported the Sedition Act much as it works today against its own interests”

    But what are “ITS interests”? When push comes to shove, they are the interests of the owners of these mass-media organs.

    > said most U.S. newspapers “showed no antipathy toward the act” and “far from opposing the measure, the leading papers seemed actually to lead the movement in behalf of its speedy enactment.”

    Of course: it was very much in the interests of rich press barons to encourage government suppression of radical labor unions and political groups.

  2. Annie McStravick
    April 28, 2020 at 08:44

    It’s amazing that ‘treason’ and ‘sedition’ still exist as crimes in some supposedly enlightened societies.
    I guess we all remember the sight of baton-wielding Spanish police beating up peaceful Catalans to prevent them from voting on the day of the 2017 independence referendum.

    Last October, in the Spanish Supreme Court, nine Catalan leaders were convicted of sedition for their roles in the referendum. These were, at the time, the deputy premier of Catalonia, the Speaker of the Catalan parliament, five other government ministers, and two leaders of civil-society groups.
    All defendants held that they were on trial because of their ideas, said that their only aim had been to give Catalan citizens a chance to express themselves through the vote, and called for political dialogue with the central government in Madrid as the only way out of the conflict. Nevertheless they were sentenced to between nine and 13 years in prison.

  3. April 27, 2020 at 21:20

    Great article, as always, Joe. CN is one of my most trusted and accessed news websites. I’ve followed Assange and Wikleaks since just after jt started publishing, thru the Manning persecution, Cypherpunks, his interview with Google’s Eric Schmidt (w/assistants with deep State Dept ties, and of course CN’s excellent coverage since his ‘troubles’ began. Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! is about the only media outlet on public radio/tv to cover Assange early on, but not much on the extradition debacle. I’d love to see you be interviewed on her show, or vice versa.
    I’m rereading a couple 100 year-old books by and about one of my post-military service, ‘back-to-the-land’ days sages, Scott Nearing. His”Debs Decision” and “Red Scare: The Trial of Scott Nearing and the American Socialist Society” are excellent resources on prosecution and defense strategies in espionage trials foe writing and publishing. In light of recent Obama and Trump-era federal court rulings that prevented defense from introducing crucial evidence, it is unlikely that the US Court will allow defense to fully and properly present their case. It is a precarious time for democracy and transparency!

  4. Karen
    April 27, 2020 at 18:23

    Thank you for this look back at history…I guess the good news you bring to me is that the U.S. has been here before but we have returned to decency each time so far. That gives me hope that we will do so again, though it doesn’t seem imminent yet :-(

  5. Eric
    April 27, 2020 at 17:42

    “For being seditious, Debs and Assange are the most prominent political prisoners in U.S. history.”

    I’m not sure there’s a contest, but I’d nominate Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal,
    both radical activists still rotting (for decades) in U.S. prisons on false convictions,
    for the top tier of political prisoners, along with Debs and Assange. Sacco and Vanzetti,
    the Rosenbergs, various Black Panthers, Puerto Ricans, etc. — there’s a long list to choose from.

    BTW, when the editor of a publication writes in his own publication, why is it tagged “Special”?

    • Eric
      April 27, 2020 at 17:46

      P.S. Prominent where? In Latin America (not just Cuba),
      the most prominent political prisoners in U.S. history may be the Cuban Five.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      April 28, 2020 at 02:52

      “Special to Consortium News” indicates only that an article is original to CN.

  6. April 27, 2020 at 15:19

    Jesus was innocent and was crucified!….The criminal was favored and set free!
    Rings some Bells doesn’t it?

  7. GMCasey
    April 27, 2020 at 14:41

    A lot of American media used the information, and so I am wondering if the other publishers, like then NY Times, Washington Post and , the Guardian in the UK—–any repercussions for them?

  8. Old & Tired
    April 27, 2020 at 09:22

    This was most informative and well-written. Thank you. A minor quibble: Eugene Debs’ speech was in 1918, not 2018.

  9. Sam F
    April 27, 2020 at 07:11

    The problem is that the secrecy legislation does not address the legitimate causes of whistleblowing. If the law was rewritten to exclude policies and acts not approved explicitly by the people, there would be no demand for such secrets and no problem in prosecution.

    No one could honorably leak the time and place of an operation like the Normandy invasion during a declared war, nor should they leak info that identifies secret agents, because these cause direct damage to policies approved by the people.

    What they should leak are secrets exposing policies and actions that are Not Explicitly Approved by the People of the United States. Secret policies and related actions are or should be illegal acts, and the People have the right to know all about them. If they cannot be exposed without damage to those involved, or such damage is accidental, then the damage is the fault of those responsible for the unlawful policies, not those who expose them.

    The secret wars of presidents and secret agencies since WWII have been a disaster for the people of the US, and for the world, killing about 20 million people, and are the result of corruption, bribes from interested parties, extremist politics hidden from the people, and other actions which are or should be unconstitutional and criminal acts.

    Public officials who make secret policies, and those who perform such acts and keep such secrets, are gangsters deliberately subverting the Constitution and laws of the United States, acts tantamount to treason, and should be investigated and jailed.

    Any rationales for unapproved acts cannot legitimately be taken further than requests and arguments to the people for such policies: when public officials act secretly without public information, debate, and approval, they belong in jail.

    • April 27, 2020 at 15:51

      @Sam F says: “Public officials who make secret policies, and those who perform such acts and keep such secrets, are gangsters…”.

      That pretty much sums it up. In fact, it is the most amazing aspect of the “great disconnect” that I don’t get. I don’t understand how there can be so many cogs in the machine who just go along and do as told. I suspect they are puppets. Pulled by strings they have no consciousness of. Sad but true, and this is the only way I can comprehend why SO MANY further the machinations that are in the interest of just a few who really could give a crap about anybody else. That is obvious. It makes no sense and something is fixing to change and the change is coming soon if you want my opinion.

      -Ken

    • April 27, 2020 at 16:52

      You have a very valid point here, Sam F, and I agree 100%. Julian Assange had every right to publish the atrocities committed by US military personnel in a helicopter deliberately shooting civilians – including some Reuters journalists. The UK/US Govs have no right to bring sedition charges against him, due to the fact that he’s NOT a citizen of either of these 2 nations .. He’s an Australian citizen, and that country has an obligation to ensure his safe return.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      April 28, 2020 at 03:00

      Unfortunately, under a 1961 amendment to the Espionage Act the US can indict anyone anywhere in the world under the Act, as will be explained fully in Part Two of this series.

  10. incontinent reader
    April 26, 2020 at 21:31

    Re: more recent cases of sedition, in 1950, Alan Winnington a British journalist with the Daily Worker reported U.S. complicity in a massacre of several thousand political prisoners held by the South Korean constabulary at Daejeon. He was threatened with sedition by the British authorities, but never prosecuted. The U.S. subsequently disseminated a propaganda video narrated by Humphrey Bogart (!) blaming the North Koreans. It was only in the 1990’s following an FOIA request by a descendent of one of the victims that US complicity was confirmed. A discussion by historian Bruce Cumings of that event and the Bogart narrated video can be found on YouTube.

    In 1952, John W. Powell, an American journalist and publisher of the China Monthly in Shanghai reported that the U.S. used germ warfare in Korea, based upon Japan’s WW2 bacteriological weapons program. In 1956, Powell and two others were indicted and prosecuted for sedition – even though his claims had been partially confirmed at the time by an international forum of experts, and many years later by the release of internal U.S. government documents. The case was dismissed in 1959.

    Re: Julian Assange and Wikileaks:

    Joe Lauria’s characterization is consistent with Assange also being targeted for Wikileaks’ release of the CIA’s Vault 7 ‘toolkit’, most especially “Vault 7 Marble”, a set of tools which are designed to frame foreign (or indeed any) actors, governments, etc.- about which Ray McGovern and VIPS have reported in Consortium News. Notably, the MSM has blacked out any mention or comment about it. (Even John Solomon, who broke the story about the negotiations with the DOJ for Assange’s release, and their subsequent breakdown, has failed to allude to the Vault 7 Marble program, as opposed to Vault 7 Grasshopper.)

    If I’m not mistaken, the Government’s indictment still alleges complicity in the theft of Government secrets intended to compromise national security, but is it not really about the disclosure of Government crimes, AND the tools to commit them- e.g., the framing of an adversary, as a pretext to retaliate and take pre-emptive action?

    Indeed, it seems that any disclosure that reflects negatively on the U.S. is now being treated as a ‘threat’.

    See, for example, the DNI “National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States of America: 2020- 2022” which is now including “leaktivists and public disclosure organizations” as one of many ‘significant threats to national security’.

    Page 2 states in part:

    “THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE THREAT LANDSCAPE

    ….The number of actors targeting the United States is growing. Russia and China operate globally, use all instruments of national power to target the United States, and have a broad range of sophisticated intelligence capabilities. Other state adversaries such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea; non-state actors such as Lebanese Hizballah, ISIS, and al-Qa’ida; as well as, transnational criminal organizations and ideologically motivated entities such as hacktivists, leaktivists, and public disclosure organizations, also pose significant threats. Additionally, foreign nationals with no formal ties to foreign intelligence services steal sensitive data and intellectual property.”

    Are ‘leaktivists and public disclosure organizations’ now intended to mean the media – journalists and publishers- indeed, all measure of speech and publication? And with that now justify the Government to take pre-emptive action against the organization or individual?

    P. S. – I was just informed that Craig Murray has been charged with contempt of court in the Alex Salmond case and learned that he has set up a defense fund that can be accessed at his website.

    (Suggestion to CN: it would be much easier, when commenting and citing evidence or conclusions, to be able to include confirming citations with specific web addresses of sources- e.g., of documents, memoranda, interviews, articles, etc.. This would also help you verify the validity of the comment, especially one that on first impression might seem unfounded or counterintuitive- including some I’ve posted here but that I’ve fully sourced in advance, but for which I was not permitted to post the internet site.)

    • Consortiumnews.com
      April 26, 2020 at 22:39

      Assange was only indicted on the Manning leaks of 2010, not for publishing Vault 7 or anything else.

      After a mistrial, the judge in Powell’s case said the charge should be treason, not sedition, which no longer existed in US law after repeal of the 1918 Sedition Act. The crime of “seditious conspiracy” is on the books, but it requires involvement of two or more people and the use of force, (neither of which applies to Assange.). A conspiracy “to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States…”

      For security reasons links are not permitted in comments. We were twice attacked and both times our web host told us it came from links in the comments section and told us they they should not be allowed.

    • incontinent reader
      April 27, 2020 at 21:45

      To: Consortium News, thanks for the followup and clarification as to the particulars of the Assange indictment and Powell trial, and the explanation about the risks related to links in comments.

      My thought was that while the Vault 7 disclosures are not part of the formal indictment, I’ve believed that they – especially those related to Vault 7 Marble – helped trigger the breakdown of plea negotiations with the Justice Department, and were a motivator for Pompeo’s savage attack on Assange and Wikileaks in his speech delivered on April 13, 2017 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, followed by the Administration’s renewed efforts to prosecute Assange with a vengeance.

    • OlyaPola
      April 28, 2020 at 09:57

      “The number of actors targeting the United States is growing. Russia and China operate globally, use all instruments of national power to target the United States, and have a broad range of sophisticated intelligence capabilities.”

      Another illustration of attempt at alleging “victimhood”, predicated on the deemed plausible beliefs that others assign the significance to “exceptionalists” that “exceptionalists” seek to assign to themselves, including emulating the “exceptionalists'” methods, which others avoid since they “have a broad range of sophisticated intelligence capabilities” among other attributes.

      The “exceptionalists” are seeking to deny the benefits of binaries by positing simultaneous sole agency/victimhood perched on the paranoia switch.

      This trend is not limited to the geographical area self-descibed as “The United States of America” but resorted to by self-described “elites” in much of the world in the hope of facilitating the continuation of present social relations underpinning the existence of “elites”.

      This trend is increasing/widening as is the recall of the boy who cried wolf whilst the “elites'” hysteria gets way crazier and dumber.

  11. Realist
    April 26, 2020 at 18:24

    Based on volunteered comments I read on internet forums, the American people seem quite willing to entertain the most provocative and baseless attempts by the federal government and the mainstream media to smear, slander and raise geopolitical tensions, sometimes bordering on outright war, sometimes actually constituting full blown war, with countries like Russia, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Venezuela (it’s a list that only grows)–those it views constituting the largest “threats” to its global hegemony and “full spectrum dominance.”

    The great majority of quips by perusers of such sites are of the “amen, hallelujah brother, we ought to nuke those ‘Chicoms,’ ‘Norks’ or ‘ragheads’ ” variety, lambasting the relevant countries for the unsubstantiated charges made against them by Uncle Sam. So, sweeping public lies by the establishment are not just okay, they are revelled in by the American hive mind, in which it’s considered better to be part of the crowd than moral or informed of the truth.

    Conversely, there is generally very little support for actual truthtellers like Assange, Manning or Snowden, who would apprise us of the nefarious subversion of our own constitution and attacks on our purportedly guaranteed freedoms, which the very government sworn to uphold that constitution and those freedoms endlessly tries to undermine. It took a great many years before opposition against the mindless slaughter of our own youth in Vietnam, to say nothing of the sweeping massacre of the Vietnamese people, got any traction in this country. Initially, and I remember this well, we the victims of our own power structure did not even know we had permission to object to being used as cannon fodder. Because the government said so, even though there was no declaration of war and the pretext of the Gulf of Tonkin was a totally fabricated lie, it was accepted that we could be rounded up like cattle and sent to the slaughter half way round the world on the say-so of a few deranged politicians and generals.

    Initially, protestors of the war were simply condemned and dismissed as traitors to the beneficent USA. LBJ’s and then Nixon’s responses to those who didn’t appreciate the carnage in their name were to categorize them as hippies, bums and enemies of the state. They hadn’t contrived pervasive Russian influence over our weak minds yet. Fathers who had served in WWII would castigate their sons for not agreeing that potentially throwing their lives away in the service of American imperialism was a good and righteous thing, that a living son in Canada or jail was preferable to a coffin and a folded flag. It took a lot of blood and tears to clear our generation’s vision, and the journalistic heroism of men like Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) and finally the honesty of media figures like Walter Cronkite to admit the truth, which held sway for at least a while, though the lemmings persisted and still do.

    Only when the damage done and the waste of human life becomes absolutely outrageous do Americans finally take note and start to question the orders and authority of their government leaders. Otherwise, the default setting of kneejerk “patriotism” holds sway and the Casandra’s who have discovered truth amidst all the propaganda and try to share it with the public are berated by the media, charged with criminal offenses by the government and reviled by the people.

    • incontinent reader
      April 26, 2020 at 22:05

      Very good comment.

    • OlyaPola
      April 27, 2020 at 11:47

      “…those it views constituting the largest “threats” to its global hegemony and “full spectrum dominance.”

      Viewing requires vision.

  12. Birgit Wischnewski
    April 26, 2020 at 17:21

    Thank you for this article that succinctly condems the underlying illegal charge against Julian Assange, but also makes clear that he is condemded by the British judge in a British court on the say-so of the US before the trial has ended. The conditions for Assange during this trial were and are atrocious. I find it extraordinary that the British press has been almost absent reporting and taking a democratic stand.

  13. exiled off mainstreet
    April 26, 2020 at 15:43

    The article is a good overview of the history of the concept of sedition and the Wilsonian assault on free speech which left its mark on the American concept of justice, leading increasingly to a return of star chamber type proceedings in recent years. As is indicated, Assange is really under attack by the yankee regime for his heroic work of exposing their many crimes.

  14. Bob Herrschaft
    April 26, 2020 at 14:25

    “But espionage isn’t really what the government is after. Assange did not pass state secrets to an enemy of the United States, as in a classic espionage case, but rather to the public, which the government might well consider the enemy.”…nicely stated, Joe!

  15. Paul
    April 26, 2020 at 14:16

    He is not an American, he is an Australian citizen. He has never been to the states!

    If you reveal crimes of another country that’s not sedation or espionage, it’s nothing.

    People seem to accept the fact that the US are the world’s police, when in reality he is not an American citizen and sedation or espionage or any usa law doesn’t apply to him.

    Do you think it’s sedation if you criticize a 3rd world African country and they want you extradited? There laws don’t mean sh&$t, same here.

    Also he does criticize the states or any other country, he reveals content that speaks for itself.

    Regards Paul

    • Consortiumnews.com
      April 26, 2020 at 22:44

      Under a 1961 amendment to the Espionage Act jurisdiction was extended from U.S. territory to anywhere in the world. Thus under the law Assange can be charged under the Act.

    • Biff
      April 27, 2020 at 00:32

      Nice work Paul.

    • OlyaPola
      April 27, 2020 at 12:07

      RE Consortiumnews.com
      April 26, 2020 at 22:44

      “Under a 1961 amendment to the Espionage Act jurisdiction was extended from U.S. territory to anywhere in the world. Thus under the law Assange can be charged under the Act.”

      A component of why some describe “The United States of America” as coercive social relations not restricted to a geographic location self-designated as “The United States of America”, and why framing in “nation states” facilitates a misrepresentation obscuring whom the opponents are thereby limiting lateral strategies to affect their transcendence.

      This is presently perceived by some opponents as a useful tool in facilitating the conflation Pax Americana/Lex Americana thereby facilitating various lateral opportunities for others.

  16. Mark W Scott
    April 26, 2020 at 13:28

    He should be getting the ‘Medal of Freedom”. Whether you like Julian or not, without his timely leaks no-one in America would have ever known about the seditions of the Deep State, or that the Hillary Clinton Campaign hired a Brit Spy who hired a Russian Spy to Spy on Trump. We would have never known how “fixed” the current Democratic Party elections are. We would have never known that the deck was stacked against Bernie Sanders by his own party. We would have never known that CNN cheated during the debates by allowing moderators to feed Clinton the questions before the debate.

    Julian Assange may not be your cup of tea but he did liberate the USA by exposing Americans to the truths that the press and the MSM would never let them read.

  17. Me Myself
    April 26, 2020 at 12:46

    “Was Christ guilty of sedition? by Paul Barnett”

    Was thee opposition to the sedition clause in the Howard Government of Australia counter-terror legislation?

    It seems history cannot help but repeat itself.

  18. mark stanley
    April 26, 2020 at 12:24

    It appears that the 1918 verbiage originated from the 1798 act, which was much harsher. John Adams was very fearful of inciting the “rabble”. The little newspapers at the time did spit out a lot of vitriolic scandalous opinions, many of which he was the target of. His reaction was peevish at best.
    The language of both the 1798 act and the 1918 act could be interpreted in many ways. A brief dissection of the paragraph in the 1918 act:
    “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute, or shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any language intended to incite, provoke, or encourage resistance to the United States.” 

    Utter, print, write, publish—freedom of speech
    Disloyal—define please. If I think an administration are self-serving crooks, does that make me ‘un-American’?
    profane—the definition of profanity changes with the times: “damn it” used to be considered profane.
    Scurrilous—please define that!
    Abusive language—I apologize for hurting your feelings
    FORM of government—are we not ‘we the people’. The form of government is our baby?
    The ‘flag’—Please… It’s a representative symbol only, that’s treated like a pagan holy artifact.
    The ‘uniform’. Bizarre. Maybe I do not like the current fashion? (then I’m a criminal) Military fashions change with the times and other country’s follow suit. Notice the popular ‘beret’ now. Lately the US Army is working on issuing a new dress uniform in a “retro” style (absurd at best).
    In conclusion, the language of the 1918 act could be interpreted to convict just about anyone.

    • OlyaPola
      April 29, 2020 at 10:13

      “are we not ‘we the people’

      From inception “The United States of America” was/is predicated the notion of belief of others who hopefully hold these truths to be self-evident.

      It was/is a production of the enlightened to serve their purpose.

      Words and phrases are empty vessels which others fill with their beliefs thereby facilitating the confidence trick.

      The enlightened’s purpose has been served throughout, illustrating that “we the people” refer to them and which to them is thereby rendered self-evident.

      The unenlighted find salve/salvation in the belief that they are at least part of “we the people”, albeit of lesser we-ness due to their own lack of endeavour/luck/talent given that “When you doth prick us, do we not bleed?” appears to render such self-evident.

      The document to which you infer was among the earliest comedy scripts in a long-running show.

  19. Buffalo_Ken
    April 26, 2020 at 11:29

    Thank-you for this important article that gets to the heart of the matter and speaks to how those currently in “leadership” still think. In this day and age, we ought know better. You have presented things in a way that makes it clear what is really going on here.

    The heart I worry about (besides my own I suppose) these days is the heart of Julian Assange. But, he must have a very strong heart. He is a courageous man and I hope he manages to come out of prison a free man soon. If not, then I’m sorry to say that the die will have been cast and it will not be an outcome anybody desired – especially those who continue to cause suffering of innocence to hold onto their perceived power and influence. Sometimes little things make a big difference.

  20. AnneR
    April 26, 2020 at 11:29

    Thank you Mr Lauria for this enlightenment. In truth I’d not thought about sedition as the likely underlying (but no longer available) real “charge.” Can’t have sedition, seditious revelations, articles, calls to resistance and so on. Nope. Otherwise – Heaven forfend – American “Exceptionalism and Innocence” would be reveled for the utter and complete crapola that it in fact is. Especially when it reveals to the world (perhaps particularly the American population) as Wiki-Leaks does, that what the US government (both WH and Congress) and its MIC arms do is *not* in any conceivable manner “humanitarian,” “for the good of the people to whom it is done,” for the trollop “national security” (if that were in fact the case then the strategy used would be true diplomacy, not bullying and definitely not devastating a country and murdering its people, not using siege warfare, or overthrowing duly elected governments).

    So thank you.

    A quibble: the spelling (and pronunciation) of the infamous gallows in olde England was TYBURN – named after the village in Middlesex where the gallows was.

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