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25/04/2024

Julian Assange: A Question of Honour

01.01.2024
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Karl Malik
Sending him to be tried in the United States would be an unacceptable act against the WikiLeaks founder – and against journalism. t is not a secret that Julian Assange can divide opinion. But now is a time to put all such issues firmly to one side. Now is a time to stand by Mr Assange, and to do so on principle, for the sake of his freedom – and ours. There can be no divide over the attempt by the United States to have the WikiLeaks founder extradited from Britain to face charges under the US Espionage Act, which reaches a critical stage in London this week. The application embodies not just a threat to Mr Assange personally. It is also, as this magazine has consistently argued over many years, an iniquitous threat to journalism, with global implications. It poses the most fundamental of questions about free speech. On these grounds alone, Mr Assange’s extradition should be unhesitatingly opposed.
In 2010, WikiLeaks published revelatory US government documents exposing diplomatic and military policy in the Afghan and Iraq wars. Four years ago, during the Trump presidency, the US justice department issued a WikiLeaks-related indictment of 18 counts against Mr Assange. It charged him with multiple breaches of the 1917 Espionage Act, a statute that originally clamped down on opposition to America’s entry into the first world war. In recent years, though, the act has mainly been invoked against leakers.
The implications for journalism are every bit as serious. This newspaper’s journalism, and that of potentially every newspaper and magazine based in the US or an allied country, would be at risk too. If the prosecution succeeds, the New York Times lawyer in the Pentagon Papers case has said, “investigative reporting based on classified information will be given a near death blow”. That prospect is on the line in the courts this week. A society that claims to uphold freedom of the press cannot possibly remain indifferent.
The free press still matters. Journalists sometimes depend on whistleblowers. The relationship between them is particularly delicate and important in cases where national security is invoked. When the unequalled global power of the US is involved, the stakes are especially large.
The implications for journalism are every bit as serious. This newspaper’s journalism, and that of potentially every newspaper based in the US or an allied country, would be at risk too.
There is more at stake in these turbulent times. 
Power needs control, every day, from all of us, no matter where in the world.
Otherwise, Alexej Navalny and many courageous fighters worldwide for the freedom of society were not the last victims.

Prof. Ing. Karl Malik



Karl.Malik@premedianewsletter.de


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