By Miguel Barragan
People should protest the arrest of Julian Assange.
Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy after staying there for years.
He was in danger of being prosecuted for revealing that the American government was committing war crimes. A 2007 video leaked from the Iraq War showed the military killing twelve innocent civilians, including children and two Reuters journalists. The leaks also revealed tens of thousands of previously unlisted civilian deaths.Assange worked with Chelsea Manning to publish on Wikileaks, the website Assange founded to leak information, and show the world that the American military was killing civilians including journalists and first responders.
Under President Barack Obama’s administration, Manning was in prison for seven years and in solitary confinement for months, until Obama finally exonerated her.Now she is back in prison being held in solitary confinement again, because she refused to testify in front of the grand jury without her lawyer. The indictment against Assange speaks for itself.
Assange tried to help Manning crack a passcode on United States Department of Defense computers that would help keep Manning’s identity a secret, so she wouldn’t get in trouble. That’s not a conspiracy to get information. He was just protecting his source, which is considered ethical journalism. Obama even set up a grand jury in 2011 the review case of Assange and the 2010 leaks. In 2013 the DOJ concluded it could not prosecute Assange, because Wikileaks was practicing ethical journalism by trying to hide their source’s identity to publish classified documents.
The indictment also says, “Prior to the formation of the password-cracking agreement, Manning had already provided hundreds of thousands of classified records…including the Afghanistan War-related significant activity reports and Iraq War-related significant activity reports.”
In other words, Assange wasn’t cracking a passcode to get information, because he already had all the information he needed.
The American government is trying to criminalize simple journalistic practices because they don’t like how the leaks make them look. This is a shame and should be spoken out against. Assange and Manning both knew the risk they were taking by leaking the information which should be considered a heroic act.
When the government tries to punish those that tell the harsh truths about the government, our free speech and free press rights are in danger. Without a free press, we don’t have a truly democratic society.
In a time when journalism is constantly under attack by the government, specifically the Trump administration, people should fight for their rights to say the truth.