Assange: CNN Violated Federal, State Laws In Extortion Article

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange alleged Tuesday that CNN violated federal and state laws when the network threatened to reveal the identity of the Reddit user who claimed to have created the “Wrestlemania” clip that was used by President Donald Trump.

The clip that set the web ablaze last weekshows Trump body slamming a person with the CNN logo superimposed over their face. The clip was from Trump’s appearance at Wrestlemania in 2007, and the president gave it national attention after he shared it via his Twitter account Sunday morning.

Reporters at CNN tracked down the Reddit user who allegedly created the animated clip, then published a story titled, “How CNN Found the Reddit User Behind the Trump Wrestling GIF.”

The article claims the Reddit user is anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, but the network claimed it would not reveal his identity because he is a private citizen who promised to stop offensive behavior.

However, the article also said, “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”

Assange didn’t quite like that move…

He alleged on Twitter that CNN violated 18 U.S. § Code 241 and § 135.60 of the New York criminal code for “coercion.”

Ronn Blitzer, senior editor for LawNewz, wrote that CNN’s claim it would not reveal the identity of the person who originally posted the clip as long as the user agreed to CNN’s terms of not posting offensive material may fall under the terms of New York’s criminal code for “coercion.”

“Andrew Kaczynski, the author of the article, is based in New York (as per his Twitter profile), so the New York statute could apply, assuming that’s where he and CNN published the article,” Blitzer wrote.

Blitzer said proving CNN violated federal law will be more difficult given the statute defines conspiracy as more than one person conspiring to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States[.]”

While Blitzer contends there may be a case in New York for coercion, Sen. Ted Cruz said on Twitter that CNN may be guilty of extortion for threatening to publish the identity of a private citizen.

CNN released a statement on Wednesday defending its piece, and denying claims of extortion and blackmail.

What do you think about all of this? Let us know in the comments below.

H/T: Western Journalism