Outrageous raids on journalists in Australia and elsewhere threaten press freedom

By Camille Fassett — Freedom of the Press Foundation

Australian authorities raided the home and electronic devices of journalist Annika Smethurst on Tuesday [June 4], and the headquarters of ABC News in Sydney on Wednesday [June 5]. These incidents are the latest in a string of instances — in no way limited to Australia — of government targeting of journalists for their reporting.

Daniel Ellsberg on the Release of the “Top Secret” Pentagon Papers

By SHARMINI PERIES — The Real News Network

On the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg describes the tension waiting for the publishing of the story: “The Times was on lock down with armed guards… they were fearing an injunction”

Press freedom advocates and news outlets strongly condemn new charges against Julian Assange

By Camille Fassett – Freedom of the Press Foundation (5/24/19)

Yesterday, Trump’s Justice Department used an indictment against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange for publishing secret government documents under the Espionage Act of 1917.

The Espionage Act, originally intended for use against spies, has been wielded against as sources of journalists and whistleblowers in recent decades, but never a publisher or a journalist. These new charges against him are unprecedented and threaten to criminalize national security reporting in the United States.

He Helped Reveal How U.S. Drone Strikes Were Killing Innocents. The Feds Just Charged Him With Espionage.

By Scott Shackford – Reason

A former Air Force intelligence officer has been arrested and charged with espionage for leaking information to the press detailing how the U.S. government uses armed drones for secret assassination missions in foreign countries.

Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, was arrested this morning. According to the Justice Department, Hale, during his time in the Air Force as an intelligence analyst, and then later as a private sector employee of a defense contractor, passed along top secret documents to a reporter, some of which were published.

U.S. Air Force drone tech turned human rights activist speaks at University of Oregon

By Nolan Good – Daily Emerald

Former U.S. Air Force drone technician and human rights activist Cian Westmoreland, who made the news in 2015 when he spoke out against the use of military drones in combat, spoke at the University of Oregon this Thursday. The talk was part of a five-city “Whistleblower Tour” through Oregon.

Westmoreland helped to construct a relay system that sent aerial footage to drone operators when he was stationed on a U.S. Air Force base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He has since called it a “sword of Damocles over the Afghan panopticon,” that hurt innocent people. After leaving the Air Force, Westmoreland became a human rights activist and has spoken publicly about the dark side of modern warfare.

EFF Statement on Assange Indictment and Arrest

By Cindy Cohn – EFF.org

While the indictment of Julian Assange centers on an alleged attempt to break a password—an attempt that was not apparently successful—it is still, at root, an attack on the publication of leaked material and the most recent act in an almost decade-long effort to punish a whistleblower and the publisher of her leaked material. Several parts of the indictment describe very common journalistic behavior, like using cloud storage or knowingly receiving classified information or redacting identifying information about a source. Other parts make common free software tools like Linux and Jabber seem suspect.

Assange Arrest: “Nuclear Option” Against the First Amendment?

Institute for Public Accuracy

Consortium News notes in “Moreno Withdraws Asylum as Assange is Arrested” that Jen Robinson, a lawyer for Assange tweeted: “Just confirmed: Assange has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a U.S. extradition request.”

Edward Snowden tweeted: “Important background for journalists covering the arrest of Julian Assange by Ecuador: the United Nations formally ruled his detention to be arbitrary, a violation of human rights. They have repeatedly issued statements calling for him to walk free — including very recently.”

24 major netroots groups launch effort to support the ‘Save the Internet Act’

Demand Progress

Following the introduction of the Save the Internet Act to restore net neutrality protections in the House and Senate, some of the country’s largest netroots groups are launching an effort to support the bicameral legislation

Documents Show Gov Tracking Journalists and Lawyers at Border

From the Institute for Public Accuracy

The U.S. government is working with the Mexican government to target journalists, lawyers, and activists who were covering or supporting the migrant caravan at the border. See breaking story: “Source: Leaked Documents Show the U.S. Government Tracking Journalists and Immigration Advocates Through a Secret Database” from NBC San Diego, which includes the names, photos, dates of birth, countries of commencement and dispositions of 59 people, mostly U.S. citizens. The document labels the people as “organizer,” “instigator,” and “lawyer,” or “media.”

Members of Congress … must not condone any mass surveillance, especially when predicated on guilt by association and an absurdly low standard for suspicion

From Demand Progress

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Nadler, and Chairman Schiff:

On December 15, 2019, three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are scheduled to sunset, including the authority known as “Section 215.” The undersigned progressive and grassroots organizations urge you not to reauthorize the continued mass surveillance of innocent people under that authority.[1] The use of such tools actively undermines the rights of historically targeted communities and the values of the Democratic Party.[2,3]