New jeopardy for Assange and press freedom

The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated Julian Assange on new charges—violation of the Espionage Act of 1917—which carry a maximum penalty of 175 years in prison.

What he is accused of is publishing confidential information disclosing American war crimes in Iraq in 2010.

The previous indictment accused him only of aiding and abetting unauthorized access to computer files, which would have meant a maximum penalty of five years.

Violations of some sections of the Espionage Act carry a maximum penalty of death, but these involve giving military secrets to an enemy in time of war, which Assange is not accused of.

He would most likely wind up in the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, and conceivably could spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.

If he can be sent to prison for that, it means that the U.S. government has the power to commit crimes, up to and including murder, classify the evidence of those crimes as secret and send anybody who discloses those crimes to prison.

If he is sent to prison for that, it means that such freedom of the press as exists in the United States exists at the whim of whoever is in charge of the government.

So far as I know, the only prominent politician who has come to the defense of Julian Assange is Tulsi Gabbard.

In other news, Chelsea Manning is back in prison for refusing to testify against Assange.

And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has rejected a resolution demanding that the President ask permission from Congress before attacking Iran.

When Julius Caesar overthrew the Roman Republic and made himself an emperor with absolute power, he was careful to preserve all the outward forms of republican government.  The Roman Senate continued to meet and debate, even though their debate had no significance.  It would have been easy for the average Roman citizen to assume that nothing had change.

It was only after Julian Caesar had been succeeded by Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula that the outward forms of the republic fell away, and the Romans could not longer keep up the pretense of freedom.

I hope and believe that the United States has not passed the point of no return.  But there will not be any obvious signal when we do.

LINKS

Daniel Ellsberg on Julian Assange’s Espionage Charges.  Transcript of the video.

Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act on 17 New Counts by Joe Lauria for Consortium News.

How Many Times Must Assange Be Proven Right Before People Start Listening? by Caitlin Johnstone.

Professional Assange Smearers Finally Realize Their Fate Is Tied to His by Caitlin Johnstone.

New Charges Against Julian Assange Could Derail Extradition by Robert Mackey for The Intercept.

 

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