The most “amazing” fact about Assange’s case, as far as Greenwald is concerned, is that the US government is seeking to charge him for violating the Espionage Act. But the WikiLeaks founder “is not an American citizen, he never worked with a media outlet in the United States, [and] none of the alleged crimes he committed took place on American soil,” he said during former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s show on RT Spanish.
If Assange is successfully extradited to the US, Greenwald predicts this will prove the country has the right to “reach over and grab” someone “anywhere in the world” reporting things they don’t like.
Even though the outcome of Assange’s case will likely have major effects on the state of journalism in the US and around the world, it has gotten little attention from the mainstream media. This, Greenwald says, is due to Assange being politically unaffiliated and making enemies of both the left and the right in the US.
“The US media doesn’t see Julian Assange as one of them and, therefore, there’s almost no coverage of his case,” he tells Correa.
The WikiLeaks founder even managed to anger both the Obama and Trump administrations with unflattering reporting, but Greenwald says it was Trump’s administration that created a narrative villainizing Assange.
“They just created a theory that said that Assange worked with his source, Chelsea Manning, to do more than just receive information, that he actually tried to help her actually evade getting caught,” he says.
However, any protection of Manning, he continues, comes down to journalistic ethics.
“The reality is that journalists all over the world help their sources not to get caught. If you go to the New York Times or the Washington Post [websites], you will find a page with instructions to their sources, ‘Here’s how you can leak information to us without getting caught.’ It’s not just the right, but the duty of journalists to help their sources to stay safe,” says Greenwald.
Manning, once a source of Assange’s, was held in contempt of court in Alexandria, Virginia, for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the WikiLeaks founder. She was released from custody last month.
She previously spent seven years in military prison for leaking classified information to Assange, but had her sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama just before he left office.
Assange is currently being detained at Belmarsh prison in London, where he is reportedly in ill health, waiting for his extradition hearing.