The Trump administration’s decision to charge Julian Assange with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act has generated significant controversy. One legal expert described it as “crossing a “constitutional Rubicon.” CPJ warned that the indictment could be the opening salvo in a broader attack on First Amendment journalistic protections. The 18th charge against Assange–of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)–has garnered far less attention. Yet technology journalists and legal experts interviewed by CPJ since the charge was first publicized in April shared significant concerns about the law, and their growing fear that it could be used to implicate journalists in the criminal activities of their sources.
Prosecutors argue that Assange conspired with U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning to access information on U.S. government computers that