U.S. Treasury: We Can't Blacklist WikiLeaks

The founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange speaks to the media after making a appearance at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. The founder of secret-spilling website WikiLeaks was back in court Tuesday as part of his fight to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he's wanted on sex crimes allegations. The procedural hearing lasted for only about 10 minutes, with lawyers for both sides saying they were on track for Assange's next court appearance on Feb. 7. AP Photo/Alastair Grant

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's million dollar book deal almost landed him on a U.S. economic blacklist.
AP Photo/Alastair Grant
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) was among the many politicians publicly enraged by WikiLeaks documents dump of U.S. diplomatic cables, likening it to a military act of aggression.

King, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, asked the U.S. Treasury Department to add WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange to its economic blacklist, or sanctions list. Doing so would have given WikiLeaks the same designation as terrorist groups.

On Friday, the Treasury Department said no.

"We do not have evidence at this time as to Julian Assange or Wikileaks meeting criteria under which [Treasury] may designate persons and place them on the" sanctions list, a Treasury representative said in a statement.

Special Section: WikiLeaks

The Treasury administers but doesn't create the criteria for sanctions; that power comes either legislatively or by executive order, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Author Wendy Kaminer describes the Treasury's blacklist in The Atlantic as follows:

"Conducting business, or providing any economic assistance to a blacklisted entity, even unknowingly, no matter how trivial, is a violation of federal law, for which you too may be blacklisted, losing access to all your property and interests in the U.S. Blacklisting is enabled by a network of federal statutes and executive orders, which requires study to begin to understand."

Kaminer says King's request for blacklisting Assange and WikiLeaks came in response to reports of Assange's million-dollar book deal with American publisher Knopf.

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.

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