As the U.S. builds its case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, federal prosecutors face a challenge: how do they explain why Assange deserves prosecution and not The New York Times or The Guardian, which also published classified government documents? Apparently, they've found their answer. According to The New York Times, the Justice Department wants to charge Assange as a conspirator alongside military analyst Bradley Manning.
"By bringing a case against Mr. Assange as a conspirator to Private Manning's leak, the government would not have to confront awkward questions about why it is not also prosecuting traditional news organizations or investigative journalists," The Times reports. Federal prosecutors will be looking at an online chat log between Manning and Assange to decipher if Assange actively "encouraged or even helped" Manning leak the documents.
But not everyone thinks this tactic would relieve federal prosecutors from having to answer such "awkward questions." Josh Gerstein at Politico argues that most investigative journalists actively pursue classified information--actions which can't easily be distinguished from what WikiLeaks did.