VICII: The Case of Julian Assange - Free Press or Treason

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Sandy Baird and Kurt Mehta lead a discussion about Julian Assange and Wikileaks.


Julian Assange, a journalist, editor, publisher and activist was born in Australia in 1971. In 2006, he founded Wikileaks, an international journal which publishes well-researched political information and commentary often involving confidential information from confidential sources.

In 2010 Mr. Assange and Wikileaks published leaks provided to them by Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst working in the US military. Those leaks revealed serious human rights and possible war crimes committed by the United States in its wars across the globe particularly in the Middle East. Assange also published confidential and embarrassing emails of the Democratic Party sent during the election in 2016 indicating that the Party preferred Clinton in the primary campaign over candidate Bernie Sanders.

Based on this release of classified documents, the United States sought the arrest of Julian Assange and his extradition to face charges of violations of the Espionage Act and possible Treason. Mr. Assange sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in 2012 in London which was granted by the then left government of President Correa. With a new election and a new unsympathetic government in Quito, that asylum was withdrawn and Assange was expelled from the embassy. He was arrested in England where he has been held in Belmarsh Prison since 2019. Now, with declining physical and mental health, Assange is facing extradition to the United States which indicted him for publishing classified information which allegedly caused serious harm and death to American troops. For these charges Assange could face life imprisonment or worse in the United States.

The United States is now demanding the extradition of Mr. Assange from the United Kingdom. Mr. Assange and his supporters in response are demanding that Assange be released as he has committed no crime and that he has only done what the best of journalists have always done, that is to report the truth.

Mr. Assange and his supporters assert that all their journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees freedom of the press. Julian Assange and his supporters further demand his immediate release from his years of confinement to reunite with his friends and family and to continue the important role of upholding the best of tradition of a free press, to disseminate the truth to the citizens of the world.

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