Can cops be justified breaking into your house without a warrant, so long as they find evidence of a crime?
There is a huge difference between the state and the poeple. And they should be trated respectively.
What Julian Assange did was for the best of all poeple, not for the state.
It also follows that the state are made of the poeple, for the poeple. So anything that is "good" for the poeple, the state should do.
If your justification is that regardless of his actions the net result was "good" for the people. You run into an undefended slippery slope.
If we murder everyone in the US, that has deadly communicable diseases, or hereditary genetic disorder and we wipe the diseases out, that's "good" for the people, and the harm when compared to the whole is trivial as long as you kill less than say 30 million people. We can never hold ourselves to this sort of standard and claim we have any form of justice.
On the other hand, the law is far to ridge without the human factor, and hence the jury, a jury can nullify a case if they so choose, and simply agree that this person violated the law, but did it for a reason that his peers felt they deserved no punishment.
I'm not saying that Assange, so go to jail, I'm simply suggesting that he has to have his day in court, if what the state is saying is to be show through evidence to be true, or false. And that if his group of peers feels that after hearing all the specific details of the case from both sides, determine if what he did is right or wrong.
We currently have the notion of exigent circumstances, that if the police have a lawful reason to enter your house without a warrant (such as believing that someone is in imminent danger) and they find in plain sight in the course of that entry evidence of a crime, it's fair game.
A case like this is how we determine if journalists are allowed to hack into government databases. This precedent will be instructive to future activists regardless of how it turns out.
Which, considering the broad definition of "journalist" here, might mean that we're free to hack anything as long as we publish it.
Would I have the right to hack your web service and leak that data because "journalism"?
And if I get caught hacking something could I simply say that my intent was to publish it?
Nor do I see how you are suggesting what I'm talking about is some sort of proposal for a double standard.
I'm not saying out legal framework is perfect, and certainly not saying that injustices don't happen because there are bad people, doing horrible shit to innocent people.
I'm saying that you can't abandon the rule of law, just because someone did something that you see as a net positive.
I'm also against this train of thought when the government attempts to use this logic with eminent domain cases for example.
"Exigent circumstances" are, from the perspective of the law, the equivalent of a warrant, thus making any proofs legal.
If the defense challenges, and the state can not convince the judge that there was a probably threat that material evidence will be destroyed before a warrant could be obtained, then it will very likely be thrown out, and can not be used in the case at all.
And even if the judge allows it, and defense loses its an open door for an appeal.
There are literally volumes of text on this subject, there is not blanket a statement that makes incorrectly gather evidence moot, as any defense attorney, it's their first line of attack.
And one of the most common ways the defense can win a case.