With Julian Assange being arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London after his stay of almost seven years, journalists and governments around the world will need to ask themselves some difficult questions. The case of Assange is a complex one though.
Swedish authorities are now considering whether to reopen an investigation into allegations of sexual assault, which Assange denies. He is also enemy number one in the United States for releasing a trove of classified information and implicating them in war crimes. His decision to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy was due to fear of being extradited to the US.
In an unlikely turn of events, Assange’s arrest has brought both the left and right of the political spectrum together, both advocates of journalistic freedom. Whilst the US government might not be too happy to have the classified information in the public domain, we as citizens of the world should be grateful to Assange for providing such information.
#JulianAssange has performed crucial services to democracy. It would be a travesty of justice if he were extradited and punished for them. He should be released immediately.
— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) April 11, 2019
Unfortunately, since the Russia debacle surrounding Donald Trump emerged, Assange also managed to anger the centrist Democrats of the USA who see him as at fault for getting Trump elected.
The typical Democrat is unlikely to ever have a period of self-reflection and realise that Hilary Clinton was a terrible candidate for a divided nation. Rather, Democrats are delighted with his arrest due to Assange’s alleged close links to both Russia and Trump.
Ecuador has been quick to receive it’s reward for giving up Julian Assange with the IMF, a bastian of US hegemony, granting a $4.2 billion loan to the country one day after the events. Subtle.
Assange latest in a long line of those who went against the US government
Should Assange be extradited, that would mean that the two key players behind the “Collateral Murder” video – the other being Chelsea Manning – will have faced trial. Manning had already been pardoned by Barack Obama but is now back in prison for not testifying to a Grand Jury against Assange.
The US will most likely make an example out of Assange. The same happened to Ross Ulbricht and Aaron Swartz, two people who also went against the power of the United States government.
The issues that Assange and Manning brought to the wider consciousness of the world are vital. They allow us to question governments and stop the behaviour of states who break international law. Should Assange end up behind bars, the message from the US government is clear: do not reveal our secrets or you will suffer the consequences.
Will this make journalists fearful of publishing accurate but harmful information about governments? It would appear that is what they are aiming for. Whilst many states in the West highlight a free press as a vital part of our democracy, it is clear that press freedom is becoming reduced.
Not only are many industry titans owned by a small handful of people, but states are now attacking journalists for releasing truthful information. Whilst there are many journalists celebrating the arrest of Assange today, it strikes a fearful note for the future.
Disclaimer: This article is an opinion piece by the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Coin Rivet.