Exposing government wrongdoing is courageous and essential. Obama waged war on press freedom and whistleblowing. Trump continues his outrageous agenda.
When governments consider truth-telling independent journalists and whistleblowers threats to national security, tyranny replaces freedom.
In 2012, the Obama administration declared WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange an enemy of the state, forcing him to take refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid unjust arrest, extradition to America and imprisonment to silence him.
In 2012, a secret grand jury convened. A sealed indictment followed, allegedly accusing Assange of spying under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, enacted shortly after America’s entry into WW I.
It prohibited interfering with US military operations, supporting the nation’s enemies, promoting insubordination in the ranks, or obstructing military recruitment.
In 1921, its most controversial provisions were repealed. It remains the law of the land, used to charge, prosecute, convict and imprison Chelsea Manning unjustly.
Assange faces the same fate if extradited to America. Anyone exposing US high crimes and/or other dirty secrets Washington wants suppressed is vulnerable.
Challenging the nation’s policies, no matter how heinous, risks severe punishment.
In his first public address, CIA director Mike Pompeo lied, saying Assange “caused harm, great harm, to our nation’s national security,” adding:
“(W)e can no longer allow (him) and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us” – deplorably calling the right to speak freely about anything “a perversion of what our…Constitution stands for. It ends now,” he added without further elaboration.
On Thursday, Justice Department charges against Assange reportedly were prepared, perhaps updated from the sealed 2012 indictment, claiming WikiLeaks published documents obtained from Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers.
On April 20, WikiLeaks tweeted
“US admits it has charges to arrest Assange according to CNN.”
“Contribute to his defense: justice4assange.com/Donate.html”
Likely false charges include Espionage Act violations, conspiracy and theft of government property. Truth-telling is honorable, not criminal.
Neocon Attorney General Jeff Sessions prioritizes arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning Assange, saying he intends “put(ting) some people in jail.”
Former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted:
“Unless they have found something new, there is no way to do this without prosecuting reporters. There’s a reason we didn’t go there.”
Assange attorney Barry Pollack said he’s gotten no DOJ information on potential charges against his client, adding
“(t)here’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”
Assange claims the right
“to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the US Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media.”
“And we strive to mitigate legitimate concerns, for example by using redaction to protect the identities of at-risk intelligence agents.”
How Trump administration officials intend going after Assange is unclear. As long as he remains in Ecuador’s London embassy, he’s safe.
Or is he? Will US or UK authorities invade its sovereign space to arrest him? Given Trump’s rogue agenda, supported by Britain, anything is possible.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.