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Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Federal Ruling: Espionage Laws can be used to Prosecute Private Citizens

From In a ruling with potentially broad implications, a federal judge said Thursday that the Bush administration could use espionage laws to prosecute private citizens who gained access to national defense information.

The decision appears to be the first in which a court has found that citizens other than government employees can be charged for receiving and disclosing secret government information, experts said.
The ruling is a significant victory for the Bush administration, which has been trying to clamp down on media disclosures of anti-terrorism programs since the Sept. 11 attacks. At the same time, legal experts said, it could chill the ability of a broad segment of the public β€” including lobbyists, academics and journalists β€” to learn about the inner workings of government and expose misconduct or controversial programs of public interest. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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