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Debates on WikiLeaks disclosures get hotter in U.S.

12-02-2010 15:43 BJT

by George Bao

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Disclosures of confidential U.S. government documents have stimulated a hot debate in the United States. Are they acts of espionage, terrorism, or journalism? Do media have the right to release those documents? And who is to blame?

A senior U.S. defense official disclosed that U.S. Justice, State and Defense Department lawyers are discussing whether it might be possible to prosecute Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, and others under the Espionage Act.

U.S. Congressman Peter King of New York called for Assange to be charged under the Espionage Act and asked whether WikiLeaks can be designated a terrorist organization.

The U.S. government is also investigating whether Assange can be charged with other crimes such as theft of government property or receipt of stolen government property.

It is expected that Assange will defend himself with the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Assange has portrayed himself as a crusading journalist. He told ABC News via e-mail that his latest batch of State Department documents would expose "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil." He told Time magazine he targets only "organizations that use secrecy to conceal unjust behavior."

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