Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, the Washington Post reports. They are taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents and investigating whether the group bears criminal responsibility for the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools. The Justice Department under President Obama decided not to charge WikiLeaks for revealing some of the government’s most sensitive secrets, concluding that it would be like prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information. Justice Department leadership under President Trump has indicated that it is open to taking another look at the case, which the Obama administration did not close.
It is not clear whether prosecutors are looking at WikiLeaks’ role last year in publishing emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which U.S. officials have said were hacked by the Russian government. Officials have said individuals one step removed from the Kremlin passed the stolen messages to WikiLeaks as part of a Russian plot to influence the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors have been drafting a memo that contemplates charges against WikiLeaks members, possibly including conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act said. Barry Pollack, an attorney for WikiLeaks, said there was “no legitimate basis for the Department of Justice to treat WikiLeaks differently than it treats other journalists. The fact of the matter is — however frustrating it might be to whoever looks bad when information is published — WikiLeaks is a publisher, and they are publishing truthful information that is in the public’s interest.”