In an opinion Tuesday, Judge Koeltl dismissed the case brought by the Democratic National Committee and accusing the Wikileaks, the Trump Campaign and others of conspiring with Russia to steal DNC emails in 2016 so as to help President Trump’s election chances (see prior coverage here).
Judge Koeltl dismissed a large portion of the case on First Amendment grounds, finding that the Wikileaks and the Trump Campaign could not be liable for merely disseminating material stolen by the Russians:
[A]t no point does the DNC allege any facts in the Second Amended Complaint to show that any of the defendants — other than the Russian Federation — participated in the theft of the DNC’s information. Nor does the DNC allege that the defendants ever agreed to help the Russian Federation steal the DNC’s documents.
. . .
A person is entitled publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source so long as the publisher did not participate in the theft. Indeed, the DNC acknowledges that this is a common journalistic practice.
The DNC’s argument that WikiLeaks can be held liable for the theft as an after-the-fact coconspirator of the stolen documents is also unpersuasive. That argument would eviscerate [Supreme Court precedent]; such a rule would render any journalist who publishes an article based on stolen information a coconspirator in the theft.