An amicus brief submitted to the federal court in the Southern District of New York by the Knight First Amendment Institute, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the ACLU highlighted several examples of public interest stories published in the past decades that were based on stolen or illegally acquired information.
Reporting on Wategate relied on anonymous sources. Activists stole files from the FBI in 1971 that exposed COINTELPRO. Big Tobacco and scandals at global finance companies were exposed through illegal methods.
“An anonymous source sent more than 2.6 terabytes of encrypted information to a German newspaper and a U.S. investigative journalism non-profit,” the groups recounted. “Known as the ‘Panama Papers,’ these internal files of a now-defunct Panamanian law firm detailed a transnational tax evasion scheme developed for wealthy clients around the world. The disclosure of the files sparked public debate and multiple proposals for legal reform.”
What's more, it hasn't been proven the Russian government was behind hacking the DNC.