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Explains in Just 13 Words Why Julian Assange Must Be Freed

Julian Assange Is The World'S Iconic Symbol Of Free Speech Fights Extradition To Us From Cell In London
London, England – February 21: A General View During The Rally For Julian Assange On February 21, 2024 In London, England. (Photo By Dave Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
By John Livingston
March 11, 2024

John Joseph Mearsheimer recently summed up in a single sentence why Julian Assange ought to go free.

“Journalists don’t go to jail for publishing categorized details in the United States,” Mr. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, said in a recent video.

There has actually been limitless ink spilled on Mr. Assange, whose lawyers on Feb. 20 made an eleventh-hour effort to kill an effort to extradite the Australian reporter to the United States.

Given that 2019, the WikiLeaks founder has actually been held in Belmarsh Prison in Britain and deals with 17 charges of espionage and a single charge of computer system abuse.

One product WikiLeaks published titled “Collateral Murder” was video footage of a U.S. military airstrike in Baghdad from July 12, 2007. The categorized video shows an Apache helicopter firing a 30 mm cannon into a group of people that included 2 Reuters journalists. About a dozen individuals were eliminated, and two kids were hurt.

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Faces Last Legal Roll of the Dice in Britain to Avoid US Extradition
Mr. Assange’s decision to release the footage, which he got from U.S. intelligence expert Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning), is why he is today in prison.

As the government’s indictment versus Mr. Assange states, the WikiLeaks founder didn’t have a security clearance, which is why he presumably “conspired” with Mr. Manning to get the video footage and other records, consisting of U.S. State Department cable televisions.

In 2013, Mr. Manning was found guilty of 20 offenses and got a 35-year prison term at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. President Barack Obama travelled this sentence in January 2017.

Mr. Assange, whose hearing at the British High Court in London concluded on Feb. 21, will likely discover this month whether he’ll be extradited to the United States.
State Secrets and the Pentagon Papers

Disclosing government secrets is a major affair, however as Mr. Mearsheimer keeps in mind, it’s not an unique phenomenon, and its legal ramifications have been thoroughly checked out. In 1971, the New York Times launched a collection of classified documents described as the Pentagon Papers, which exposed that the U.S. federal government was being dishonest about the Vietnam War. This event caused the prominent lawsuit New York Times Co. v. United States, which established a significant precedent for liberty of journalism.

The case is popular, one that the majority of college students find out about in introductory classes to media and government. And just like the Assange case, it involves an expert providing state tricks to a reporter.

Daniel Ellsberg (1931– 2023) was a U.S. military expert who in the early 1970s, while working for the RAND Corporation, gained access to an internal government study that showed that the U.S. federal government’s foothold in Vietnam was far less protected than the Johnson administration had led the public to think when it started escalating the war there.

In 1971, Ellsberg revealed the research study to The New York Times and other news outlets, causing substantial humiliation for the Nixon government. In reaction, the administration implicated Ellsberg of several offenses that might result in a prospective prison term going beyond 100 years.

The charges against Ellsberg were ultimately dropped, but what’s important to comprehend is that The New York Times was not the celebration charged. Ellsberg was.

As Mr. Mearsheimer describes, Mr. Assange is not the equivalent of Ellsberg, who presumably broke the law by sharing state tricks. He’s the equivalent of The New York Times, which published them.

Mearsheimer mentions that Manning was punished for leaking classified information as a government employee, whereas Assange, as a journalist, was not breaking any laws by publishing such info, which is frequently dripped to the press by federal government sources.

‘The Number One Principle of Bureaucracy’

The parallels between the Pentagon Papers and WikiLeaks are sensational, and Mr. Mearsheimer is not the only individual to see them.
Ellsberg, who died last year, discussed the resemblances between the cases throughout a Harvard Law School address in 2011. Though the government mentioned that both Ellsberg and Mr. Assange’s actions were illegal due to the fact that they threatened national security, Ellsberg argued that the prosecutions originated from the truth that in both circumstances, the tricks shared were deeply humiliating to the U.S. federal government.

“Nothing is more secret than proof that later on, retrospectively, would result in responsibility, which would lead to shame, which would be a basis for blame, potentially for responsibility [or] criminal prosecution,” Ellsberg stated. “Avoiding blame is sort of the major top principle of a bureaucracy or a politician.”

For anyone who questions Ellsberg, there are Oval Office recordings of a discussion in between President Richard Nixon and assistant H.R. Haldeman that suggest that the federal government’s actions related to the Pentagon Papers were motivated not by national security, however by concerns about the federal government’s reputation.

“To the common guy, all this is a lot of gobbledygook,” Halderman said to President Nixon. “But out of the gibberish comes a really clear thing. You can’t trust the federal government; you can’t think what they state.”

The Collateral Murder video is even more bothersome to the federal government than the Pentagon Papers.

The video didn’t just confirm that government officials had actually reportedly lied to Reuters about what happened in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. It showed a potential war crime, one numerous thought the government had actually covered up.

Dean Yates, a former Reuters reporter who was its Baghdad bureau chief at the time of the killings, stated the government’s prosecution of Mr. Assange was retribution for exposing the fact.

” What [Assange] did was 100% an act of truth-telling, exposing to the world what the war in Iraq looks like and how the U.S. military lied,” Mr. Yates told the Guardian in 2020. “The U.S. understands how humiliating Collateral Murder is, how disgraceful it is to the military– they understand that there’s possible war crimes on that tape.”
What Mr. Yates is describing is an action and cover-up that could cause the very kind of criminal guilt Ellsberg explained.

‘ A Principal Pillar of a Free Government’
Viewers can see the Collateral Murder video footage and decide on their own whether they’re seeing a war crime or questionable rules of engagement that led to numerous innocent, unarmed individuals being killed.
What’s indisputable is that Mr. Assange was a reporter sharing secrets dripped to him by a government employee.

Because of that, Mr. Assange should have the constitutional defenses of the First Amendment, which explicitly specifies that “Congress will make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

In their wisdom, America’s Founding Fathers took these defenses due to the fact that they saw free speech and a totally free press as essential to a free individuals, and an essential look at federal government power.

” Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government,” Benjamin Franklin as soon as observed. “When this support is removed, the constitution of a complimentary society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

This is why, as Mr. Mearsheimer says, reporters don’t go to jail in the United States for releasing state secrets. Let’s hope he’s still best.