The case of Julian Assange – are the United States’ request and allegations politically motivated?
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The case of Julian Assange – are the United States’ request and allegations politically motivated?


It has been over a decade since the beginning of the controversy surrounding Australian editor and activist, Julian Assange.

In 2006, Assange founded the “multinational media organisation”, WikiLeaks. The website “specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption”. The platform is used to provide transparency between global governments and the public in the hopes of highlighting abuses of power. Assange describes his organisation as “a giant library of the world’s most persecuted documents” whose purpose is to “give asylum to these documents”.

In 2010, a series of major leaks were published via WikiLeaks that presented the world with concealed truths of the Middle Eastern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. A video, named Collateral Murder, showed a team from two American Apache helicopters that shot and killed multiple civilians, including two journalists.

Further leaks came from documents such as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs, which kept records of civilian deaths and highlighted the failures of both wars.

Moreover, in November 2010, WikiLeaks published what is considered by the organisation to be “the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain”, now widely known as Cablegate. Cablegate consists of over two hundred and fifty thousand cables sent to the U.S. State Department by two hundred and seventy-four of its embassies and consulates around the world.

These cables contained analysis and assessment of host countries and their governments which is considered highly classified information. This disclosure angered the United States government hugely and as they began an investigation into WikiLeaks, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange over an alleged sexual misconduct.

To prevent his extradition to Sweden, which Assange believed was a pretext to an eventual persecution in the United States, he sought refuge at the Embassy of Ecuador in London where he remained for seven years.

Eventually, in 2019, the police were invited to arrest him from the Embassy after disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities ensued. He has been confined in the maximum-security British prison, Belmarsh HMP, since April 2019.

Although Sweden dropped their charges in 2019 for Assange, the activist has been kept imprisoned ever since after being denied bail in January 2021 due to a pending appeal by the United States.

The indictments issued by the U.S. government are seventeen charges relating to violations of the Espionage Act of 1917 and another charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

It has long been disputed that the real reason the United States is continuing to pursue legal action against this Australian whistle-blower is due to political motivation and not to seek true justice.

The term “politically motivated” generally refers to a situation or action based on the self-interest of a particular government or political party especially in terms of gaining power or influence. In this particular case, newspapers such as the Washington Post, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Amnesty International have defended Assange’s right to free speech and the American right to free press quoting the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The reasoning is that a democracy requires governmental transparency to ensure that citizens are included in political processes and Assange was simply providing the link between both parties.

The argument proposed by the former Trump administration was that Assange was not a journalist and therefore, did not access the same protection of free press as larger scale newspapers.

Regardless, Amnesty International have described his persecution as “nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression” and IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger called for President Biden to “end the years of politically motivated prosecution of Julian Assange” as “the criminalisation of whistle-blowers and investigative journalists has no place in a democracy”. Despite the United Kingdom’s refusal to extradite Assange on the grounds of his desperate mental health, it remains to be seen whether the foundations of his extradition are justifiable.

In a democracy as proud and powerful as the United States, it is fundamental that all liberties, as set down by the Constitution, are upheld. Regardless of the frustration felt by the presidential administrations, citizens have the right to be informed of the actions of the world leaders that they entrusted to make key decisions.

Despite the ongoing trial, WikiLeaks continues to publish controversial documents to create an easily accessible political platform for all.