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Though journalists tend to despise the WikiLeaks founder, his fate could impact the future of their profession.

Full text and links here: https://reason.com/video/2020/12/15/t…

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Some establishment journalists in the U.S. consider Julian Assange to be a criminal whose work doesn’t fit into the same category as their own.

In April 2019, police dragged the WikiLeaks founder out of the Ecuadorian embassy where he’d lived for seven years after the U.S. government indicted him for allegedly helping Chelsea Manning access government databases. The New York Times editorial board applauded the move, writing that it «could help draw a sharp line between legitimate journalism and dangerous cybercrime,» and that, «The [Trump] administration has begun well by charging Mr. Assange with an indisputable crime.»

«Julian Assange is not a free-press hero,» The Washington Post editorial board opined, «And he is long overdue for personal accountability.»

Then in May 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed a second set of charges against Assange that, if they were to result in a conviction, could set a dangerous legal precedent that would put all investigative journalists who expose state secrets at risk of going to prison. Whether the media considers Assange one of their own, his fate could have a profound impact on the future of their profession.

The DOJ charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 by publishing the information leaked by Chelsea Manning. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.

The years of confinement have taken a toll on his mental and physical health. In 2018, doctors determined that Assange’s condition was deteriorating after years of confinement and asked that he be allowed safe passage to a hospital. That request was denied.

In 2019, Nils Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, described the conditions Assange has been subjected to as «psychological torture.»

Assange says his guiding principle has been to grant regular citizens access to the information that powerful governments, corporations, and media gatekeepers wanted nobody to see.

«Someone’s right to speak and someone’s right to know create a right to communicate,» Assange told Democracy Now journalist Amy Goodman at the Frontline Club in July 2011. «That is the grounding structure for all that we treasure about civilized life.»

Assange remains in a London prison, confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, according to WikiLeaks Editor in Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson.

He’s awaiting a ruling from the British extradition court, which is scheduled for January 4. Government whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, John Kiriakou, and William Binney, along with more than 7,600 co-signers to an open letter, have called for Trump to drop all charges.


Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Opening graphic by Lex Villena

Video Photos: Tolga Akmen/ZUMA Press/Newscom; JAE/WENN/Newscom; Ray Tang/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Mark Chew/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Dinendra Haria/ZUMA Press/Newscom; MAAA/ZDS/Wheatley/WENN/Newscom; Ole Spata/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom; Andrew Parsons/i-Images / Polaris/Newscom; Dominic Lipinski/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Richard Ellis/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; John Barrett/PHOTOlink.net PHOTOlink/Newscom; Mark Makela/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; GARY CAMERON/Reuters/Newscom; Michal Fludra/ZUMA Press/Newscom; National News/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Euan Cherry/Photoshot/Newscom; Simon Webster/Atlas Photo Archive/Photoshot/Newscom;  Victoria Jones/ZUMA Press/Newscom; News Licensing / MEGA / Newscom; tHuman Rights Watch/EyePress EPN/Newscom; DDAA/ZOB/WENN/Newscom; Chris Winter/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Andrew Parsons/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Jay Shaw Baker/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Steve Maisey/Photoshot/Newscom.


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Source: Reason TV