WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has grabbed the world’s attention by publicizing a vast trove of secret US diplomatic documents. But his actions have also enraged top government officials around the world. How much trouble is he in, legally speaking?Skip to next paragraph
Perhaps more than he has bargained for. Mr. Assange could be sent to prison for a very long time if the US is able to successfully prosecute him under the Espionage Act. The statute is a broad law that provides for harsh penalties, notes Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law at American University in Washington.
The real question may be whether the US Department of Justice wants to pursue the matter. Historically, the US has not prosecuted leak recipients. The US might not be eager to provide Assange a courtroom forum in which he can bring further attention to the contents of his trove of classified cables.