Watch Washington try and find something, anything, to get Julian Assange and how many Western states are keen to help them. We must resist:
Federal prosecutors, seeking to build a case against the WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange for his role in a huge dissemination of classified government documents, are looking for evidence of any collusion in his early contacts with an Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information.
Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.
Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.
Adrian Lamo, an ex-hacker in whom Private Manning confided and who eventually turned him in, said Private Manning detailed those interactions in instant-message conversations with him.
He said the special server’s purpose was to allow Private Manning’s submissions to “be bumped to the top of the queue for review.” By Mr. Lamo’s account, Private Manning bragged about this “as evidence of his status as the high-profile source for WikiLeaks.”
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks is taking steps to distance itself from the suggestion that it actively encourages people to send in classified material. It has changed how it describes itself on its submissions page. “WikiLeaks accepts a range of material, but we do not solicit it,” its Web site now says.
It also deleted the word “classified” from a description of the kinds of material it accepts. And it dropped an assertion that “Submitting confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law,” now saying instead, “Submitting documents to our journalists is protected by law in better democracies.”
WikiLeaks is also trying to position itself more squarely as a news organization, which could make it easier to invoke the First Amendment as a shield. Its old submissions page made few references to journalism; it now uses “journalist” and forms of the word “news” about 20 times.
Another new sentence portrays its primary work as filtering and analyzing documents, not just posting them raw. It says its “journalists write news stories based on the material, and then provide a link to the supporting documentation to prove our stories are true.”