Prosecution Of Assange Would Lead To End Of 1st Amendment Experts Warn and Citizen Spies: The Long Rise of Americas Surveillance Society

May 3rd marks the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, established by the UN to remind governments about the necessity to respect their commitment to freedom of the press.

The Biden administration touts press freedom but continues the Trump administrations efforts to extradite Julian Assange from the UK to the United States for trial on Espionage Act charges that could lead to 175 years in prison. Assange is being prosecuted for obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents evidencing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act for revealing state secrets.

The Biden administration hypocritically criticizes Russia for arresting Evan Gershkovich, a US journalist, for espionage while trying to extradite and try Assange, who is an Australian citizen. Both men are journalists detained in a foreign country on espionage charges for doing what journalists do.

Guest – Marjorie Cohn is a member of the national advisory board of Assange Defense. She is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new article about Assange and Gershkovich was just published by Truthout.


Citizen Spies: The Long Rise of Americas Surveillance Society

The U.S. Department of Homeland Securitys program If You See Something, Say Something, launched in 2010, urges citizens to be aware of and to report, potential threats. Examples of suspicious activity include unattended packages or baggage; circumstances that appear out of the ordinary, like an open door that is usually closed; a person asking for detailed information about a buildings layout or purpose, and changes in security protocol or shifts. Also of concern is any person seen loitering around a building, writing notes, sketches, and taking photographs or measurements.

The DHS website is careful to note that, Factors such as race, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation are not suspicious. Yet as listeners know, incidents of ethnic profiling are many, including one in which a Southwest Airlines passenger was taken off a flight for speaking Arabic.

The history of citizen spying and reporting on others is not new in this country. And the See Something campaign isnt the only civilian spying program around. Many jurisdictions have Neighborhood Watch programs. The U.S. Department of Justices National Neighborhood Watch initiative enlists community members to assist crime prevention and to prepare neighborhoods for disasters and emergency response.

Guest ” Joshua Reeves author of Citizen Spies, The Long Rise of Americas Surveillance Society . He is associate professor of New Media Communications and Speech Communication at Oregon State University, where hes also a fellow in their Center for the Humanities. An associate editor of the journal Surveillance and Society, hes also written the just-released book, Killer Apps: War, Media, Machine.

Hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Marjorie Cohn and Julie Hurwitz

Share This Episode