Sales Discusses WikiLeaks Case on BBC

Professor Nathan Sales was interviewed in a December 8 BBC World News segment that focused on the likelihood of U. S. prosecution and extradition of Julian Assange, the man behind the WikiLeaks release of sensitive information.

Commenting on the possibility that Assange might face prosecution for espionage or other matters under U.S. law, Sales pointed out that the U.S. does not have a U.S. secrets act and that no single law governs the release of information. Instead, the government operates under a "patchwork quilt" of regulation, with some World War I-era laws making it a crime to transmit potentially damaging communications to persons not entitled to that information. These laws might apply in the WikiLeaks case but have not been used in the past against the media out of concern for First Amendment challenges.

Assange is an Australian citizen who will have consular assistance. If indicted, the question will be whether he will enjoy the same magnitude of speech protections as American citizens do under the Constitution's First Amendment, a foundational law governing protection of speech, press, and access to information.