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Press freedom threat seen in prosecuting WikiLeaks' Assange

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson poses for a photograph in Reykjavik, Iceland on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Hrafnsson says that the news that Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' founder, faces unspecified charges in the United States is a "black day for journalism." (AP Photo/Egill Bjarnason)

Academics, civil rights lawyers and journalists worry that an attempt by the United States to put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange behind bars could damage the free speech protections provided by the First Amendment.

The prospect of such a prosecution became a lot more concrete when Assange’s name accidentally surfaced in an unrelated legal filing, suggesting he is a Justice Department target.

Observers said Friday that charges against Assange could have repercussions for every news organization that covers national security in the United States.

WikiLeaks’ recently appointed editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, called it “a very black day for journalism.”

The Associated Press