Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested in the UK on an INTERPOL warrant. Assange is wanted in Sweden for an alleged sexual assault and will undergo extradition proceedings in the UK. Britain is notoriously cautious about extraditing, particularly in high profile cases, so it is by no means a done deal.
Assange’s arrest was in no way connected to the leaking of classified US diplomatic cables, but American officials have expressed relief that he has been caught anyway. Although many politicians and appointed officials continue to call for his prosecution under the espionage act that is unlikely to happen for a number of reasons. The first problem would be jurisdictional – Assange is not an American citizen, nor was he acting in America, nor is he physically located here. Extradition is unlikely because our extradition treaties with most countries expressly prohibit extradition for political crimes. In case you are wondering, our extradition treaties with sweden and the UKcontain clauses of that nature. Even if an American court were to get their hands on Assange, prosecution under the espionage act would remain difficult because it requires knowing intent to harm the US. Assange will argue that he offered the State Department the chance to redact sensitive information prior to publication, which the State Department declined to do, and that this shows that his intent was not to cause harm.
However, that doesn’t mean that the founder of WikiLeaks is completely in the clear in regards to the publication. The release of the documents, although all documents were American diplomatic cables, contain secret and sensitive information belonging to multiple other countries as well. In some cases, their espionage laws may not be quite as forgiving.