Dan Ellsberg interviewed by Tutsi Gabbard (US Rep Hawaii)
(In 2019 or 2020)
"I was the first person charged under the charges he [Assange I think he's talking about] is now facing. But I was charged as a source, and there wasn't one for 10 years after that. ... and then 3 and 9 and 1 other. There were 3 cases and then 9 under Obama. They were all either plea bargains or won in court. It's never gone to the Supreme Court.
"Mainly they were sources like me, and they were using the Espionage Act, which was designed for spies, and has no provision in it for pleading any public interest. You can't argue in court. I wasn't allowed to speak in court to answer the question--I spoke for four and a half days--but I wasn't allowed to answer the question, 'Why did you copy the Pentagon Papers?'
"So my lawyer, a consitution lawyer, said, 'Your honor, I've never heard of a case where the defendant was not allowed to tell the jury why he did what he did,' and Judge Burns said, 'Well, you're hearing one now,' and that's been true of every case since then..
"So you can't get a fair trial as a whistleblower. ... you can't say anything about what the impact has been, whether there was harm, what you wanted to accomplish.
"But it was never meant to be an official secrets act, a British type official secret s act. ... and in fact they said at the time, in 1917 when they passed this, we don't want an official secret act. The question was could you use it against a source like me. Well, that never had been done since 1917. So it was an experiment with me.
... But the new thing about this [Assange] is that it's the first time a journalist has been tried as a defendent, and that makes it into a full British official secrets act.
"So it's not even just that he can't argue motives effectively, as a journalist he should not be ... it's always been clear to papers that sources, like me, should not be tried under the Espionage Act where they can't plead public interest at all. But the newspapers never got behind us very much.