Julian Assange’s indictment last Thursday by the Trump administration goes well beyond “hacking” and having “manners and means of conspiracy.”
It sets all journalists at risk when uncovering critical governmental information that must be available to the public.
Assange being extradited to the U.S. from the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain — regardless of the character of the man himself — must be vehemently opposed as it places global freedom of the press at stake.
The case brought against Assange was in relation to him helping American whistleblower Chelsea Manning nine years ago.
Manning downloaded classified documents with the help of Assange by allegedly “cracking the encrypted password” that helped her gain access to the defense department network, according to The New York Times.
The documents that were leaked were some of the most important released in the last decade by completely reconstructing social and political views on government and war and it exposed the ugly and messy cover-up of U.S. war crimes.
The leaks included: U.S.-led forces killing hundreds of Afghan civilians, footage of a U.S. aircrew laughing after the murder of a dozen Iraqi citizens, documents regarding the different torture techniques used on Guantanamo Bay prisoners, and the list goes on.
When the Obama administration attempted to extradite Assange a few years back, it concluded that doing so would be dangerous to the freedom of the press and would set a long precedent for all media organizations.
The issue was considered far beyond WikiLeaks and Assange.
The reality is that the U.S., as a global superpower, will go to considerably great lengths to ensure its crimes remain hidden.
This is even more of an issue with an administration like the current one in office.
Journalist Owen Jones of the Guardian said it best — when a country commits a crime, it resolves them in three manners.
The first is to strip the humanity of the war victims, so that the masses have minimum to no sympathy.
The second strategy is to portray whistleblowers such as Manning, Assange, Snowden and the like as traitors and spies.
And when the latter options are exhausted, the government resorts to covering up its crimes and silencing journalists to secure that the public will intentionally remain in the dark about its ill-intentioned actions.
In this case, by indicting Assange, future journalists will refrain or will be forced to refrain from uncovering similar findings.
It’s of the utmost importance that citizens worldwide are educated on such issues and that these classified documents that journalists work hard to uncover continue to be published.
An ignorant public does not have the capacity to pressure its own government against its wrongdoings.
With an ill-informed population, governments will not be held accountable to the consequences of their horrifying and terror-ridden actions.
And that argument alone is reason enough for the British government to refrain from handing off Assange to American authorities.
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