JULIAN ASSANGE – Whistle-blower
Julian Assange is an Australian journalist, publisher, and activist. As the founder of non-profit Wikileaks and champion of truth, he faces 17 charges under the Espionage Act and a potential 175-year prison sentence if extradited to the US. He is currently being held in the UK’s high security and controversial Belmarsh prison.
Exposing US war crimes with the aid of ex U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was the start of 12 years of legal battles, death threats, persecution, and smear campaigns.
The case of Assange has set a terrifying precedent for journalism everywhere. Receiving global media attention over the years, Assange has built up high-profile support from many press freedom advocates.
Better World Info provides over 900 links on Julian Assange, and also serves as an excellent information platform on whistle-blowers, investigative journalism, and press freedom. We advocate for freedom of speech, truth, and journalistic bravery in the face of extreme governmental secrecy.
‘One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice.’
― Julian Assange
Discover important developments on Twitter using our guide on top journalists, press freedom advocates, solidarity groups, civil rights activists, politicians, and a lot more.
Ongoing Legal Battles since 2012 – Timeline
In such a complex and ongoing situation, Better World Info has created a simplified timeline of ongoing events. Starting with his arrest for sexual allegations in Sweden (charges since dropped) during which time he was subjected to intense criminal investigations by the U.S.
Plots of kidnapping and threats on his life by the CIA led to well founded extradition & rendition fears. In a demonstration of its support for freedom of speech and undergoing its own form of political persecution at the time, the Ecuadorian embassy granted Assange asylum in its London base.
To avoid extradition to Sweden or the U.S. he spent 7 years living under the protection of Ecuador. Here he was temporarily protected from unfair trails, dirty tricks, persecution, and potentially the death penalty.
A change of Ecuadorian leadership led to Assange’s political asylum being revoked and these protections removed. He was arrested immediately for failure to surrender to the court for the allegations in Sweden, and shortly afterwards on request by the US for his involvement in Wikileaks.
Currently he is incarcerated at Belmarsh Prison, a UK maximum security facility. During his time at Belmarsh, Assange's physical and mental health have deteriorated. His lawyers have stated that his poor treatment there amounts to torture.
Follow the ongoing developments of his U.S. extradition trials, appeals, and alleged spying by the CIA.
What did Wikileaks Expose?
As the creator of Wikileaks, Julian Assange has taken the full force of the hundreds of thousands of documents that have been published since 2006.
The most damning of which expose proof of U.S. war crimes, mass surveillance, and threats to U.S. democracy.
We list below some of the key revelations:
Guantanamo – Amounting to torture - prisoners were held in isolation for two weeks to encourage compliance, other inmates were hidden from Red Cross inspectors.
9/11 messages – Half a million messages from the Pentagon, FBI, FEMA, and NYPD were leaked. The messages were sent in the 24 hours surrounding 9/11 and reveal how the event was used for opportunism, death, and war.
Civilian deaths in Iraq – A video was released clearly showing a U.S. helicopter using airstrikes to kill more than a dozen civilians.
War documents – 90,000 related to Afghanistan and 400,000 related to Iraq detail civilian deaths and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Cablegate – 250,000 unredacted diplomatic cables revealed secret U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and encouragement from the Saudi Arabian royal family for the U.S. to strike Iran.
Democratic National Committee emails – 20,000 documents which confirmed DNC chairwoman providing the Clinton campaign with debate questions in advanced.
When we consider the damage that Wikileaks caused to international reputations and complicity in war crimes, it is not difficult to understand why the U.S. in particular want to trial Assange on U.S. soil. It is also very clear why at all costs this must be avoided.
There is much debate on whether Assange is a journalistic hero or a criminal threat to national security. One thing for sure is that his supporters vastly outweigh his critics.
Over the years there have been many protests, marches, and campaigns demanding Assange's freedom. Notable public figures include Jeremy Corbyn, Lula de Silva, Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, Tulsi Gabbard, Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, Sarah Palin, Alberto Fernandez, Vivienne Westwood, and Yanis Varoufakis.
Important campaigns include Free Assange Now! by the International Federation of Journalists, Don't Extradite Assange, and Defend Assange. A recent push by Journalists Speak Up For Assange saw media workers unite in defence of Assange and press freedom. 1,200 journalists from 100 countries signed a statement defending the Wikileaks founder and this unprecendented attack on freedoms.
Julin Assange is the first publisher ever to be charged with the Espionage Act. If he were to be convicted under these charges, publishers around the world will be in fear of similar repercussions. Global press freedom and democracy will be severely compromised as result.
Publishing is not a crime. The basic activities of journalism are protected under the First Amendment of the US constitution. The public right to transparency must be protected.
If Assange had exposed Russian war crimes in Ukraine, he would have been branded a global hero. The same treatment is not awarded to those who expose American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The media must continue to raise awareness for this case and highlight the dangers of allowing Assange's extradition. Public pressure and media attention is vital in maintaining high standards of exemplary journalism, exposing governmental secrets and wrongdoing, and returning Julian Assange to his loving family who have stood by him throughout.
Author: Rachael Mellor, 16.02.23
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