New legislation in the U.S. Congress targets WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for espionage prosecution.
Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, introduced the Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination, or SHIELD, Act on Tuesday. The bill would clarify U.S. law by saying that it is an act of espionage to publish the protected names of American intelligence sources who collaborate with the U.S military or intelligence community.
King introduced similar legislation in 2010. Senators John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, introduced similar legislation in the Senate last week.
King has called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute Assange for espionage. The new bill would give the U.S. Department of Justice greater authority for prosecuting intelligence leaks, King said in a news release.
"Julian Assange and his associates who have operated and supported WikiLeaks not only damaged U.S. national security with their releases of classified documents, but also placed at risk countless lives, including those of our nation’s intelligence sources around the world," King said in a statement.
Some WikiLeaks associates are planning a new website called OpenLeaks, "dedicated to the same dangerous conduct," King added. "These organizations are a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. Julian Assange and his compatriots are enemies of the U.S and should be prosecuted ..."
Critics of the SHIELD Act have said it appears to be aimed at publishers, not leakers.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is email@example.com.