(Bloomberg) Eric Holder, attorney general under President Barack Obama, has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft.
The indictments of six individuals under that spy law have drawn criticism from those who say the president's crackdown chills dissent, curtails a free press and betrays Obama's initial promise to "usher in a new era of open government."
In 2009, former FBI linguist Shamai Leibovitz was indicted for handing over transcripts of government wiretaps of the Israeli embassy in Washington to a blogger. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Photographer: Peter Dejong/AP Photo
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The Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers of classified information to the news media than Republican predecessors.
"There's a problem with prosecutions that don't distinguish between bad people -- people who spy for other governments, people who sell secrets for money -- and people who are accused of having conversations and discussions," said Abbe Lowell, attorney for Stephen J. Kim, an intelligence analyst charged under the Act.