WikiLeaks Congressional Hearing Set for Dec. 16

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2010 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaks during a news conference in London. Police say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested on a Swedish warrant. Assange was arrested Tuesday Dec. 7, 2010 and was due to appear at Westminster Magistrate's Court in London later in the day. (AP Photo/Lennart Preiss, File)
Lennart Preiss
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Lennart Preiss

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a Dec. 16 hearing on the potential application of U.S. espionage laws in relation to WikiLeaks, the committee announced on Friday, marking the first such hearing to address the website's recent release of classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

The meeting, officially entitled the "Hearing on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks," will address how espionage laws can be updated and effectively implemented in the digital era, MSNBC reports.

As WikiLeaks continues to release thousands of classified U.S. documents, the American government has wrestled with finding an effective and legal means of prosecution - particularly as the espionage laws, which were passed under the Espionage Act in 1917, have few contingencies for dealing with the complex, quickly-evolving nature of contemporary digital security threats.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently being held without bail in a UK prison under charges of sexual assault against two Swedish women.

In an interview with ABC News this morning, a lawyer for Assange said that an American indictment against her client was forthcoming.

While Justice Department officials say an indictment is not imminent, Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly said DOJ lawyers are working on building a case.

The Judiciary Committee has not yet announced a list of witnesses for the hearings.