Why Julian Assange's Persecution Must End

Assange was simply doing his job, which the great majority of the mainstream media has long ignored.

In an unexpected change of events, the US government has won an appeal to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the United Kingdom in order to prosecute him on espionage charges stemming from the publication of material from whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Many at the highest levels of our administration have been working on this for years.

In 2010, Assange rose to popularity after publishing a series of leaks that highlighted US war crimes—information given by US Army Intelligence Analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The Collateral Murder video from the Baghdad airstrikes, the Afghanistan and Iraq war diaries, and Cablegate were among the documents leaked.

Following these revelations, the US government started a criminal investigation against WikiLeaks, which resulted in Assange's indictment. "The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to hack a computer in order to expose sensitive material that 'might be utilized to hurt' the United States," according to PBS. According to the accusation, Assange 'conspired' with Manning in March 2010 by assisting her in cracking a Defense Department computer password that gave her access to a US government network that included secret material and conversations.

However, despite the fact that the US has been chasing Assange for some time, they have been unable to apprehend him. For seven years, Assange took asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he was almost untouchable. Assange was thrown out of the embassy after a series of confrontations with the Ecuadorian government, leaving him susceptible to extradition efforts by other countries. He was immediately apprehended in the United Kingdom after his departure in 2019.

That arrest stemmed from suspicions that he jumped bail in order to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, which were eventually dropped. According to Assange, the claims are a ruse and that Sweden is plotting to send him to the United States.

Since then, the 50-year-old Assange has been imprisoned as a political prisoner in the United Kingdom, while the US government has pursued his extradition. He might spend the rest of his life in prison if he is compelled to return to the United States.

Many have slammed the US government's pursuit of Assange, alleging that the allegations against him are unconstitutional. There are severe issues about free speech and journalistic freedom, as well as the prosecution of whistleblowers, at stake.

Opinions on Assange are pretty split. Many believe he is a hero who has repeatedly risked his own life and freedom to alert the public to corruption—some even say he is the father of modern investigative journalism. Others believe he is a traitor.

What's evident is that Assange has a slew of opponents on all sides of the political divide.

WikiLeaks, for example, has been labeled a "nonstate hostile intelligence service" by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the United States stated that apprehending Assange was a top priority. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former employee, described Assange as "intelligent, neurotic, and obsessed with power." The claws truly came out after WikiLeaks published DNC emails showing the party obviously fought to make Hillary Clinton the nominee over Bernie Sanders. Assange, according to Hillary Clinton, must answer for his actions. Assange should be "brought to account for his intervention in our elections on behalf of Putin and the Russian government," according to Chuck Schumer. Diane Feinstein has been a vocal supporter of his extradition and prosecution for a long time.

Despite bipartisan animosity toward Assange, the only persons in this situation who should face criminal prosecution are those in our government who are accountable for the war crimes exposed by WikiLeaks, Assange, and Manning.

Assange was simply doing his job, which the great majority of the mainstream media has long ignored. Without this type of reporting and journalism, residents in the United States would have no clue what their government is up to, the depths of corruption in our conflicts, the human rights crimes we've committed, how our tax money are truly spent, or what's being done in our name. We require a great deal more of this type of labor. And Assange's prosecution does just one thing: it deters other journalists from performing their jobs.

It doesn't matter if Assange is a nice man or not. And the idea that he somehow leaked US government secrets, making us vulnerable, is nonsense. He uncovered war atrocities as well as crimes against the American people. Even if it made our government more susceptible (it didn't; there have been no consequences), it would be a worthwhile trade-off for better informing the American people.

Our forefathers spent a lot of time debating the necessity of a free press.

"If I had to choose between a government without media and newspapers without a government," Thomas Jefferson stated, "I would not hesitate a minute to prefer the latter." "Whoever wants overturn a nation's liberty must begin by subduing the freedom of expression," Benjamin Franklin said.

And the founders weren't the first ones to understand that a free press is essential for a free people to exist.

Nelson Mandela, another political prisoner and a person who knew a thing or two about persecution said, "A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference."

While Julian Assange is one of the most well-known journalists who is presently being prosecuted for his work, he is far from alone. Journalists are often repressed, tortured, and even killed in other nations. Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. Claudia Duque, a Colombian journalist, has been harassed and attacked several times. Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, a Mauritanian journalist, faced the death penalty over an article he published. Press repression is nothing new, but it's supposed to be different in the United States.

Our society cannot function without a vigilant free press that delivers the knowledge and education that citizens need to hold their elected authorities accountable. Indeed, limiting that power poses a far larger threat to national security than anything Chelsea Manning or Julian Assange revealed or published.

What is happening to Assange is horrible and a human rights issue on a global scale. He has been a political prisoner for more than a decade, is constantly threatened by numerous administrations, and his health is in grave danger. It's past time for this to come to a stop.

Assange has done nothing wrong, and we should all support him.

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