First I should mention these facts:
-There’s no evidence that Julian Assange is linked to Russia or Trump. Not only has Assange denied that WikiLeaks got the DNC emails from Russia, but the “evidence” that the intelligence agencies have given for Russia’s involvement in the leak has been found to be as reliable as their evidence for WMDs in Iraq. And the attempts to link Assange to Trump through Roger Stone are absurd; there’s no evidence that Assange has had a “back channel” with Trump’s associate, and Stone has misrepresented his supposedly close relationship to WikiLeaks. It’s also dishonest to claim that WikiLeaks has selectively published leaks to help Trump, since WikiLeaks is revealed to have actively pursued access to Trump’s tax returns prior to the 2016 election.
–WikiLeaks’ publishing of private documents is not a crime, and to claim that it’s a crime is a dangerous attack on the free press. News outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post reveal private information all the time. And despite the authoritarian attempts from the last three presidential administrations to redefine the definition of whistleblowing, the leaks that WikiLeaks has published do not violate the Espionage Act.
–Assange is not a rapist. In August 2010, the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm stated she’d made the assessment that the evidence in Assange’s case did not disclose the offense of rape. And according to text messages that detail the communications surrounding the case, the woman who Assange supposedly assaulted wrote that it was the “police who made up the charges” of rape, and that she’d “only wanted him to take [an STD test].”
You can look through Suzie Dawson‘s beautifully written piece “Being Julian Assange” for a comprehensive breakdown of the lies that have been spread about this man and his journalism outlet. The charges against Assange and WikiLeaks are transparently false, so much that many of the figures who propagate these charges seem to be knowingly making false statements; for instance, Hillary Clinton claimed in an interview last year that WikiLeaks doesn’t “ever publish anything coming out of Russia,” even after WikiLeaks had published hundreds of thousands of critical documents pertaining to Russia.
This motive is apparent in the switch that Mike Pompeo made in his views about WikiLeaks after he became a top government official. In 2016, Pompeo made a pro-WikiLeaks tweet. Yet a year later, upon having recently become CIA director, Pompeo said in a speech that “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Given these facts, it’s unclear how much of this Pompeo really believed when he said this.
It’s also telling that Assange’s former liberal supporters have switched their views about him since WikiLeaks revealed incriminating material about Democrats in 2016. For instance, in a series of posts in 2013, Vox editor Ezra Klein defended Assange and Snowden. But after WikiLeaks revealed that the Clinton campaign had identified Klein as a potential “attack dog” to keep journalists in line, Klein responded by baselessly accusing WikiLeaks of working for Trump’s campaign.
And now, as mainstream commentators write increasingly lowbrow hit pieces against Assange in an effort to improve their credentials among powerful people like Pompeo and Klein, Assange’s persecution has created a crisis for press freedom and human rights.
Eight years of confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy have dangerously damaged Assange’s bodily and mental health. He’s chosen to stay in this situation because if he steps out of the building, he’ll be arrested and put into an even worse prison. And if he’s arrested, it will set a precedent for the government to prosecute any journalist who publishes leaks.
All of this is happening because a circle of political and media elites want to protect their careers from the truths that Assange has revealed. And I’m not going to sit by and watch it conclude in tragedy. I plan to keep making noise about Assange while organizing towards his freedom, and I hope others do the same.