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Assange at Risk

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Assange at Risk

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Jake Dailey, Website Editor

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Julian Assange has spent every day since June 19th, 2012, inside the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian embassy, in the United Kingdom. That was until today, Thursday, April 11th, when he was arrested by metropolitan police.

Assange is a well known figure to many as the founder of “not-for-profit media organization”, Wikileaks, a controversial site to say the least. The organization has published many high profile leaks provided from whistleblowers, including one such as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and leaked thousands of emails from the DNC from the 2016 election.

While the charges which sought him to seek asylum in the first place, rape charges brought by the Swedish government, were dropped in 2017, he continued to stay within the Ecuadorian embassy. Claiming a fear of extradition to the United States, he could not leave the embassy without walking into the hands of British police who have spent nearly 7 years waiting to detain him. Actively aiding his fears, just last month the Army private who leaked the Iraq War Logs, who had had her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama at the end of his final term, was jailed for refusing to testify against Assange.

Assange was granted asylum by former Ecuadorian President Rafeal Correa, who was a leftist and was anti-Washington like many South American leaders, such as Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, and Bolivia’s, Evo Morales. The politics in Ecuador have since shifted though, with Correa now living in Belgium, wanted over alleged links to a political kidnapping, and the acting president being more moderate wanting to mend ties with the U.S., has dismissed Assange as “a stone in my shoe.”

The reason this all happened, though, was Assange simply doing what he believed was right. Wikileaks recently released documents which angered the Ecuadorian government as they exposed corruption and offshore accounts involving their president, Lenin Moreno. His asylum being revoked by Ecuador was applauded by the British government, with Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt stating, “Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law.” Wikileaks, however, and others, see it completely differently. The group tweeted “He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him.”

Many are disgusted by these actions and fear with Assange that he may be extradited to the United States, as a U.S. federal court unsealed an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to disclose classified information that could be used to injure the United States. Edward Snowden, former contractor for the National Security Agency, described the scene of Assange being arrested as an attack on press freedom. Tweeting out “Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of – like it or not, — award winning journalism out of the building are going in the history books,” and adding a final solemn statement “Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”

While many within the U.S. government, especially former first lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, harbor a great distaste for Assange, former Attorney General Eric Holder previously decided against charging Assange, citing that it would raise an unwanted precedent and bring up issues involving the First Ammendment, as Wikileaks is described by itself and many as a journalistic organization.

More is to come, but the fate of Assange is in the UK’s hands.

About the Writer
Jake Dailey, Website Editor

Jake Dailey (12) joined journalism this year (2018-2019) and is interested in technology and history. His hobbies include hiking and taking care of animals.

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