Daily Observer (Jamaica)

Assange is a hero

Pardoning him would be the first step back toward rule of law

- Thomas Knapp

On April 11, 2019 the ongoing saga of journalist and transparen­cy activist Julian Assange took a dangerous turn. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, revoked his asylum in that country’s London embassy. British police immediatel­y arrested him — supposedly pursuant to his “crime” of jumping bail on an invalid arrest warrant in an investigat­ion since dropped without charges, but, as they admitted shortly thereafter, actually with the intent of turning him over to US prosecutor­s on bogus “hacking” allegation­s.

The US political class has been after Assange for nearly a decade.

In 2010 Wikileaks, the journalism/transparen­cy service he founded, released informatio­n revealing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanista­n, as well as State Department cables exposing, among other things, Hillary Clinton’s attempts to have American diplomats plant bugs in the offices of their UN counterpar­ts.

In 2016, Wikileaks released Democratic National Committee e-mail — provided by an as-yet-unidentifi­ed whistle-blower — exposing its attempts to rig the Democratic presidenti­al primaries in Clinton’s favour.

At no point has Assange been credibly accused of a crime.he’sajournali­st.people provide him with informatio­n. He publishes that informatio­n. That’s an activity clearly and unambiguou­sly protected by the First Amendment.

Even if Assange were a US citizen, and even if his activities had taken place in territory under US jurisdicti­on, there’s simply no criminal case to be made against him.

So they’re manufactur­ing one out of whole cloth, accusing him of “hacking” by asserting that he assisted Chelsea Manning with the technical process of getting the 2010 informatio­n to Wikileaks.

But, once again, Assange is not a US citizen, nor at the time of his alleged actions was he anywhere that would have placed him under the jurisdicti­on of the US.

Even if he did what he’s accused of doing, the current state of affairs is the equivalent of the city government of Chicago asking Norway to extradite a French citizen on charges of not cutting the grass at his villa in Italy to the specificat­ions of Chicago’s ordinance on the subject.

There are certainly criminal charges worth pursuing here.

The US Department of Justice should appoint a special counsel to probe the Assange affair with an eye toward firing, seeking the disbarment of, and prosecutin­g (for violations of US Code Title 18, Sections 241, Conspiracy Against Rights, and 242, Violation of Rights Under Color of Law) the Department of Justice bureaucrat­s who hatched this malicious prosecutio­n.

The first step in the process, though, is for US President Donald Trump to pardon Julian Assange for all alleged violations of US law on or prior to April 11, 2019.

Assange is a hero. Time to stop treating him like a criminal.

Thomas L Knapp (Twitter: @ thomaslkna­pp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertaria­n Advocacy Journalism (thegarriso­ncenter.org). He lives and works in north-central Florida.

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Julian Assange

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