Julian Assange's great luck: Why the WikiLeaks founder's jailing is good news for him.

Media criticism.
Dec. 7 2010 1:53 PM

Julian Assange's Great Luck

Why his arrest and jailing in the United Kingdom is good news for him.

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If the Swedes fail to extradite, the United States will be tempted to make a similar request. Salon surmises that Assange may have already been indicted under seal in the United States, but I can't imagine that the Justice Department would want to put the Espionage Act of 1917 to constitutional challenge by prosecuting a foreigner for disseminating classified information that somebody else stored. As somebody tweeted last week, if Assange is a criminal for publishing the cables on WikiLeaks, what is New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. for publishing them in his newspaper? (Writing in Slate, former Supreme Court clerk Nick Bravin sketches a path by which the Justice Department could successfully prosecute Assange.)

There's one last upside to Assange's incarceration. For the better part of a year, he's been on the run, living off of cash and flopping at the homes of friends and supporters. At least until his Dec. 14 court hearing, he won't have to worry about where he's going to sleep tomorrow.

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Correction, Dec. 7, 2010: This article originally misspelled the last name of Robert Hanssen. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

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Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.