Julian Assange arrested, taken from embassy

Julian Assange removed from Ecuadorian embassy. Source: Ruptly

British police have arrested Julian Assange and taken him from the Ecuadorian embassy, where he was given political asylum nearly seven years ago.

He’ll stand trial on charges of breaking the agreement that allowed him to be released on bail while he was fighting extradition to Sweden to answer questions in regard to alleged rape.  That case was dropped several years ago.

But his case was never treated as a routine extradition case.  The U.S. government regards him as a one-man hostile foreign power because his WikiLeaks organization published secret documents and videos documenting U.S. crimes, notably in the Collateral Murder video.

The issue is not whether he is guilty of jumping bail.  The issue is whether someone can be sentenced to prison for publishing information that a government wants to keep secret.

The practice until now is that whistleblowers are charged as criminals, just like spies, but newspapers and broadcasters have not been charged for publishing the information they get from whistleblowers.

Admittedly this is not logical, but it has made possible a rough balance between government’s need to keep certain information confidential and the public’s right to know what government is doing behind its back.

If Assange is extradited to the United States and convicted of espionage, it will create a precedent by which the editors of the New York Times can be prosecuted for publishing leaked information.  In fact, in theory, the editors of The Guardian in London could be prosecuted by the U.S. government.

Assange is an Australian citizen and has never been based in the United States.   If he falls within U.S. jurisdiction, so does anyone on the planet.

He has a reputation for being a difficult person.  I wouldn’t know about that.  I don’t think anybody’s disposition would be improved by being cooped up in a couple of rooms and never going outside for nearly seven years.

He is a hero.  He has defied the world’s biggest superpower to make known the truth.  It will be a sad day if he goes to prison for revealing the truth.

LINKS

WIKILEAKS DEFENSE FUND

“Assange Is Not a Journalist”: Yes, He Is, Idiot by Caitlin Johnstone.

Julian Assange Has Been Arrested for U.S. Extradition | The Time to Act Is Now by Caitlin Johnstone.

Julian Assange Dragged Out of Ecuadorian Embassy and Arrested by British Police by Matt Novak for Gizmodo.

Julian Assange Arrested in London After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum; U.S. Requests Extradition by Robert Mackey for The Intercept.

Yes, You Should Fear the Arrest of Julian Assange by Kelley Beauchar Vlahos for The American Conservative.

Julian Assange Will Die Along With Your First Amendment Rights by Peter Van Buren on We Meant Well.

Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks and the Deepwater Horizon by Greg Palast.

Why the Assange Arrest Should Scare Reporters by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

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4 Responses to “Julian Assange arrested, taken from embassy”

  1. Vincent Says:

    I don’t suppose his reputation for being a difficult person can be blamed on being cooped up for almost seven years. It was his choice to hide from the consequences of his actions: indicating a coward, not a hero. “Difficult” is a euphemism, I suggest. Any given society punishes those who disobey its laws – which of course may be wrong or cruel.

    Compare his behaviour with that of conscientious objectors: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector#United_Kingdom

    Like

    • philebersole Says:

      I don’t know what you mean by hiding from the consequences of his actions. Nobody is obligated to put his head in a noose for the benefit of his enemies.

      He must have known when he began his one-man war that the possible consequences were death, loss of freedom and torture. He’s already made a seven-year down payment on loss o freedom.

      Like

  2. Fred Says:

    I wonder if the trial of Daniel Ellsberg will offer useful precedent.

    Like

  3. philebersole Says:

    In the Pentagon Papers case, the role of Daniel Ellsberg corresponds to that of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning (the leaker), while the role of Julian Assange compares to that of the New York Times (the publisher).

    When the New York Times published its initial articles regarding the Pentagon Papers, the Nixon administration sought an injunction to forbid further publication on national security grounds.

    The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that freedom of the press means “no prior restraint” what can be published, unless there is compelling evidence that publication would cause irreparable harm to national security—which was not the case in this instance.

    Once the Pentagon Papers had been published, it was open to the government to prosecute the New York Times for violating the Espionage Act, but it chose not to do so.

    Ellsberg and his confederate Anthony Russo were tried twice on charges of espionage and theft. The first time, the court declared a mistrial because the government wiretapped a conversation between one of them and their lawyer. The second time, the court declared a mistrial because the Watergate prosecutor disclosed that Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office has been burglarized in search of information to discredit Ellsberg’s testimony.

    Since the Pentagon Papers case, there has been a kind of unspoken gentleman’s agreement that in the case of information leaked to the press, the government would prosecute the leaker, but not the journalist or editor. This is not legally binding.

    In short, the legal precedents don’t look good for Assange.

    Liked by 1 person

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