Julian Assange identifies as a market libertarian and is an admirer of Ron Paul. It is then a little surprising and also encouraging that much of his support comes from across the political divide. Support for his life long commitment to bring truth to the the people. To shine a light on what our government is doing in our name. To provide via WikiLeaks a source of of indisputable facts. Information that can and has been used to hold our government to account.
There is a certain sad irony then that the nation that passed the 1st Amendment has now persecuted Julian Assange for over a decade, ably assisted by the government of the United Kingdom.
The founding fathers of the United States understood all too well the dangers of a centralised state unfettered by a free press.
“The only security of all is in a free press.”
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
“But none of the means of information are more sacred, or have been cherished with more tenderness and care by the settlers of America, than the press.”
This may all sound a little airy-fairy but imagine if we had a news source that we could trust? A source with an unblemished record in reporting the truth?
Do you trust what our government is telling us about their response to the Covid pandemic?
If a future government tries to persuade you of the need to go to war or attack other nations, would you not feel more confident if there was an organisation dedicated to telling you the truth and not feeding you government propaganda?
If a politician is telling you one thing but telling sponsors something else in private is this not something that should be in the public domain?
Julian Assange’s vision for WikiLeaks was for it to be such a source. The very existence of WikiLeaks would compel other news organisations to compete to report the facts.
It is no surprise then why governments would do all in their power to limit or close down WikiLeaks and destroy Julian Assange.
The government would try and have us believe that WikiLeaks is a hacking organisation or it’s publishing of the truth resulted in loss of life. This is untrue, WikiLeaks as a publisher receives information from whistle-blowers. It also has a well documented record of redacting information from files as part of it’s harm reduction process.
The attempted extradition of Julian Assange was already of concern throughout the world for those who valued a free press. Washington was saying that they had the right to charge any journalist outside of the US, using the Espionage Act, whilst the journalist as a non citizen would not receive protection under the 1st Amendment.
The US prosecutors are now explicitly arguing in court that even in the US the 1st Amendment does not protect journalists and publishers from being charged under the Espionage Act.
It is difficult to overstate what this would mean particularly for Americans. It has been understood for decades that the government could charge whistle-blowers but not publishers. The extradition of Julian Assange would set a precedent that it is now possible to charge the journalists and publishers. This would mean the NYT could have been charged for publishing the Pentagon papers.
It is not hyperbole to say that this is the most important freedom of the press case in a generation.
If you value your liberty, if you value your freedom of speech please join us in fighting to end the extradition of Julian Assange.
Brian Vickery – Former Treasurer