Assange’s true plight protects press freedom



On June 17, British Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed that Julian Assange had approved the delivery to the United States. The delivery decision has released protesters’ demands that Assange be released from Belmarsh prison, which has been detained since April 2019.

Protesters reveal cases of war crimes, corruption and misconduct when Assange is a journalist and publisher and publishes a document revealing America’s unpleasant involvement in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claims to have done. For his supporters, his continued imprisonment is a frontal attack on press freedom.

As expected, the battle to free Assange was led by his wife, Stella Morris, who married while he was in prison, who had two sons, Gabriel Shipton and his father, Richard Assange. increase.

Anthony Albanese signed a petition to release Assange when he was the leader of the opposition in Australia. He says the story has been going on long enough and Assange should be allowed to return to Australia.

But now that he has become prime minister, his remarks on this issue are becoming more cautious.

The government will continue to provide Assange with consular support, promising to quietly represent the British and US governments, but hesitates to demand Assange’s release.

Australian Government Divided by Assange

“Some people think that capitalizing exclamation marks on Twitter somehow makes it even more important,” the Prime Minister said on June 20. “

Therefore, there is no “megaphone” negotiation. The angry attitude of Assange’s supporters is that they need immediate, loud action as quiet diplomatic time runs out and delivery is imminent.

But in signs that the Australian government is not united to free Assange, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has softened the support that Assange can expect from the Australian government. Specifically, Australia has the view that it must not interfere with the legal proceedings of other countries.

Epoch Times Photo
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles (R) has heard Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speak to the media at a press conference at the Capitol in Canberra, Australia, on May 23, 2022. (AAP Image / Lukas Coch)

However, Marls’s allegations are dishonest, as there are recent cases of Australian intervention on behalf of imprisoned people. A notable example is the Howard government’s intervention to return David Hicks, who was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for being a supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, to Australia.

Assange’s dangerous orbit is well known. He is a co-founder of WikiLeaks and published on the Internet on October 22, 2010, 391,832 documents condemning the United States’ involvement in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This included videos of American soldier abuse and an American helicopter attack in Iraq against unarmed civilians and journalist suspected radicals.

The file was stolen by Army civilian Chelsea Manning and handed over to WikiLeaks. Manning was sentenced to seven years in prison, but he was pardoned by President Barack Obama in 2017. Still, the WikiLeaks publisher did not use these documents properly himself, but he still suffers from prison.

Assange’s plight

Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in June 2012 to avoid arrest and delivery to Sweden accused of sexual assault. This is the accusation since it was withdrawn by the Swedish authorities. Assange was expelled from the embassy in April 2019 and is now in the infamous Belle Marsh prison in the United Kingdom, where he can spend up to 175 years in prison for computer hacking and espionage. I am fighting against handing over.

At a hand-over hearing, a US representative claimed that the publication of the document endangered the lives of people, especially those who worked with the US military.

Assange’s case tests the limits and extent of press freedom. Early events in American history may inform the debate about Julian Assange’s alleged activity: the 1960s Pentagon Papers controversy.

The Pentagon Papers, detailing the role of the United States in Indochina until May 1968, was leaked to the New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, and the New York Times began publishing excerpts.Following an order from a lower court to stop publishing the dissertation, the U.S. Supreme Court New York Times Co.v. UnitedStates6-3 decision made it possible to resume publishing.

Deputy Judge William Douglas characterized the leaked document as “all history, not future events,” but it is still important for Vietnam’s debate in Congress. He relatedly stated: “The press was protected to reveal government secrets and inform people.”

Epoch Times Photo
1971: The cover of the paperback edition of Neil Sheehan’s “Pentagon Papers” in The New York Times reveals the government’s deception against the implementation of the Vietnam War. (MPI / Getty Images)

Just promote the need for free press

But for Assange, it’s not that simple. Documents were obtained by hacking government computers, after which WikiLeaks published them. Therefore, the debate is whether the publisher has the right to publish material that has been illegally obtained by someone else.

Is Douglas’ expectation that he has the right to inform people in this situation reasonable?

Is there a higher principle to allow or require the publication of documents proving the atrocities committed by American personnel in the Middle East War?

What are the legal rights of whistleblowers and their issuers, if any?

There is one thing for sure. Assange’s continued imprisonment no longer serves its purpose. This is because his predicament no longer helps people who want to exclude this information published by WikiLeaks from public forums.

Indeed, Assange’s quest for liberation by keeping him in Belmarsh prison has always been news, thereby reminding people of the importance of press freedom in maintaining a free and democratic society. Let me. In these situations, I wonder if early termination of legal proceedings will be more effective in the public interest.

His ongoing imprisonment goes beyond what the Bill of Rights can achieve to promote free press. The debate over Assange’s delivery to the United States always reminds us of the need to protect whistleblowers and is willing to reveal corruption and sneaky deals in society.

Therefore, Douglas’s moving statement that the press should be protected “to expose government secrets and inform the public” could influence the outcome of this case by politicians. Should lead to.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gabriel Moens


GabriĆ«l A. MoensAM is an emeritus professor at the University of Queensland and vice president and dean of Murdoch University. In 2003, Mornes was awarded the Australian Centennial Medal by the Prime Minister for her service to education. He has taught extensively in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Moens recently published two novels, “ATwisted Choice” (Boolarong Press, 2020) and “The Coincidence” (Connor Court Publishing, 2021).