Assange is not a free-press hero

Mr. Assange is not a free-press hero. Yes, WikiLeaks acquired and published secret government documents, many of them newsworthy, as shown by their subsequent use in newspaper articles (including in The Post). Contrary to the norms of journalism, however, Mr. Assange sometimes obtained such records unethically — including, according to a separate federal indictment unsealed Thursday, by trying to help now-former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning hack into a classified U.S. computer system.

Also unlike real journalists, WikiLeaks dumped material into the public domain without any effort independently to verify its factuality or give named individuals an opportunity to comment. Nor, needless to say, would a real journalist have cooperated with a plot by an authoritarian regime’s intelligence service to harm one U.S. presidential candidate and benefit another.

Even if it isn’t really about journalism, the Assange case may touch on genuine issues of free expression, as would any matter related to the dissemination of information, secret or otherwise.