It’s been four years since Julian Assange was arrested and taken to a British prison—but he had been a political prisoner for many years even before that, confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy under political asylum since 2012.
After all that time, an emerging bipartisan coalition is finally rising up to demand his freedom. Just this week, several Democratic congress members called for an end to the U.S. government’s persecution against him.
Four years ago today, Julian Assange was arrested for publishing the truth.
I’m leading a letter to Attorney General Garland urging him to uphold the freedom of the press by dropping these Trump-era charges and withdrawing the extradition request. pic.twitter.com/91wLrBXRQk
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) April 11, 2023
Assange currently spends his days in a setting befitting a madman or a violent murderer, mostly confined to a solitary 6′ by 12′ cell, his contact with others limited, his mail censored, and even his reading hours heavily controlled.
But Assange is not a madman, the people he exposed were.
And it is for the high crime of telling the truth about powerful lunatics that this fate has befallen him. Under his media outlet, WikiLeaks, Assange published leaked documents from military whistleblower Chelsea Manning that proved the U.S. government was carrying out war crimes in our Middle Eastern conflicts.
Among the revelations? Inhumane practices at Guantanamo Bay, opportunistic text messages between numerous government officials immediately following the 9/11 attacks, a video of U.S. military members gleefully murdering five civilians (including two journalists) in Baghdad, documents detailing the true death tolls, costs, and futility of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that the government had worked to conceal from the American people, secret drone strikes in Yemen…the list goes on.
You see why many within the U.S. government want him dead now, right?
But mobs (and the government is a mob) have often wanted to murder men for nothing more than telling the truth—in fact, I’d argue, there’s few things throughout history that have gotten more innocent people killed than the boldness to say unpopular things. That’s one major reason our founders went directly to protecting the rights to free speech and a free press when they wrote our Constitution.
But never think that the presence of something in our Constitution actually does much to constrain the U.S. government. The list of its violations against the First Amendment is lengthy and grotesque.
For some time, the Left at least stood up for Assange’s rights as a journalist and protested the government’s campaign to have him extradited for charges tied to his leaks in the U.S. That was because the Left mostly used to be anti-war and many opposed the Bush Administration, the wars it started, and the civil liberties violations occurring with them long before the WikiLeaks disclosures. But that support faded in 2016 when Assange went on to publish nearly 20,000 leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that indicated the party rigged their nomination process for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
Similarly, the Right’s sentiment towards Assange seemed to flip during the same time, yet the Trump Administration chose to continue Obama’s persecution of Assange—producing an 18-count superseding indictment in 2019 and pressing for Assange’s extradition from the U.K.
So far those efforts have (mercifully) been rejected. But if he were to be sent back to the U.S., Assange faces 10 years in prison for each of the 17 felony counts against him.
Not only are these charges an assault on Assange’s First Amendment rights, they’re also a sinister and not one bit subtle threat towards every other member of the media in the states: If you dare to tell the truth about us, we will come after you too.
And the threat seems to be working, it’s likely one reason we’ve seen mainstream media outlets stay mum on the recent Pentagon paper leaks showing the U.S.’s true involvement in the Ukraine war. At this point the mainstream media exists to push the state’s narrative, which means we really have no free press to speak of save the independent journalists and outlets (like yours truly) dedicated to speaking the truth—especially about the U.S. government’s operations—come hell or highwater.
It’s good to see the growing ranks calling for Assange’s freedom—regardless of political affiliation or personal feelings towards Assange. This is the global free press case of the century and much hangs in the balance of Julian’s fate.
Free Julian Assange. Free the press.