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US efforts to jail Assange for espionage are a grave threat to a free media (theguardian.com)
346 points by rrgmitchell on June 13, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 171 comments

I find it incredible that it took the Guardian 7 years to decide to write this article. EDIT: In fact, it's not even by the Guardian -- it's an opinion piece by an ex-Guardian editor who was (at least implicitly) part of the smear campaign against Julian Assange "back in the day".

Let's not forget that the Guardian sent Julian Assange a basket with soap and socks when he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy[1]. What kind of a message does that send? They also didn't tell anyone involved in the Snowden revelations when GCHQ forced them to destroy their copies. They also (through their tehnical incompetence) leaked documents that WikiLeaks had not published, then blamed WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for the disclosure. Not to mention the ludicrously false and harmful articles they published about him meeting Manafort and co-ordinating disclosures with the Trump campaign alongside many other government puff pieces disguised as "journalism".

Now, all of a sudden, they feel it's a good idea to try to help him. It's too late for that. The right time to try to help him was 7 years ago. Doing it now is for the birds, it's pure political theater so they can pretend (in 15 years) that they were "on the right side of history". Absolute bullshit.

Then again, saying something is better than nothing. Here in Australia there is no public discussion about Julian Assange (an Australian citizen and journalist being tried under US terrorism laws). Even more ironic is that we recently had a bit of a "freedom of the press" scuffle because the ABC was raided by the Australian Federal Police because of some coverage from 2017 over Australian Army war crimes. I find it incredible that nobody mentioned Julian. At all. What an absolute disgrace today's press is.

[1]: https://youtu.be/vwjazrixP1Q?t=5255

And in fact, the Guardian published a blatently false story about Manafort holding "secret talks" with Assange, which they incredibly have still not retracted, despite literally zero evidence to back up this extraordinary claim.


That story was clearly fake. The Guardian reporter and his source have both proven to be unreliable in the past, no other newspaper could confirm the claims and the Special Council looked into it and found nothing.

And the Guardian has now “re-establish[ed] links” with British military/intelligence after their breakup post-Snowden:


Much of our media now coordinates and sources stories from national intelligence services. This has been true with some of the biggest stories of the past few years - many of which failed to pan out. So in some important cases our “news” has been literally government propaganda.

> a basket with soap and socks

Does this have some cultural significance? It a symbolic snub of some kind?

The speaker in the video says that they sent him this care package and then pauses and stares into space like it's the most obviously terrible thing they could have done and needs no further comment.

I don't get it?

If you have a friend who broke their ankle and is in hospital overnight, you send a basket with soap and socks (or more likely, flowers). If you are the head of a news organisation and have a fellow journalist (who you've worked with in the past and gave you "the biggest scoop in 30 years") and is currently facing political persecution by the most powerful government on earth, you send lawyers to help him get out of the situation and cover it endlessly until something is done about it. As Jacob Appelbaum said in the video I linked, it's an example of not treating such a serious situation seriously.

So yes -- it was a snub in the sense that it was literally the least useful form of "help" they could've given. Julian didn't need symbolic help. He needed actual help, and the Guardian left him out to dry (and then proceeded to publish countless articles smearing him -- including flat-out lying as in the "he met with Manafort" case).

Heck, WikiLeaks sent one of their lawyers to help Snowden in Hong Kong when he got in trouble (and bought him plane tickets and the rest of it -- even trying to rent a private jet to get him out of Russia while he was stuck in the airport) -- and they didn't even have anything to do with publishing the Snowden revelations.

It's funny you mention Appelbaum - he is another person who upset some powerful entities and had a smear campaign against him.

I have never myself heard that narrative about Appelbaum. It seems clear that, while some of the allegations against him were unfounded, others were made by women who publicly identified themselves and their experiences of being sexually harassed or sexually assaulted by Jacob Appelbaum.[0]

Is there really a narrative that these women fabricated stories of sexual abuse by Jacob Appelbaum because he upset some powerful entities?

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Appelbaum#Allegations_of...

See https://www.zeit.de/2016/34/jacob-appelbaum-sexueller-missbr... from the Wikipedia article) and briefly alluded to in the FAQ at http://jacobappelbaum.net/ (- If you're a sexual predator, what better cover story is there than "the FBI is making shit up about me.") and https://archive.is/UX9Jk

This was brought up in discussions at the time as being a potential smear campaign against him. I personally didn't really buy this as being the most plausible explanation -- though I will say that the US government has definitely done things like this before (the FBI tried to manipulate MLK into committing suicide by threatening him with "evidence" of sexual misconduct[1]). And if I was a spook, it's probably the first course of action I would take to discredit someone.

Personally though, I think the more obvious issue in the Appelbaum case is that he was held to "trial by social media", which is a very common pattern these days. In the end, there was no legal action taken by ether Appelbaum or the women accusing him (and the veracity of some -- though not all -- of the stories was challenged by other women in the Tor community). He's now back to doing crypto-related research as a student of Bernstein and Lange (recently publishing a paper about improving WireGuard's security).

So I don't think we'll ever know if the allegations were true or not, but it probably means he won't work as a journalist (or for the Tor Project) again.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FBI%E2%80%93King_suicide_lette...

All these activities seem wildly beyond the scope of what I’d consider journalism. Why don’t they just write about it rather than getting mixed up in it like this?

Journalism organisations have lawyers for a reason (and they do help other journalists and even sources with legal troubles), so I completely disagree it was out of their power to do something about it.

But also -- they didn't even write about it. They smeared him relentlessly for 7 years only to "change their tune" immediately after the point-of-no-return.

All these activities are exactly what investigative journalism is supposed to be.

Assange is riding the edge of what is considered permissible in society, where this line effectively divides the state and consolidated power, and the public.

These are matters of life and death for Assange, victims of the war crimes of which he's published, and future potential victims if journalistic freedom is further restricted and thus even less accountability for war criminals.

The Guardian has elected not to bring their clout and lawyers to bear on these matters. Instead, they sent Assange a basket of soap and socks for his extended stay in a foreign embassy.

> The Guardian has elected not to bring their clout and lawyers to bear on these matters.

Isn't it correct that the journalists stay out of the news themselves? They should be reporting, not becoming the story by 'bringing their clout' to anything.

I disagree entirely.

If it were possible to be apolitical, I would agree. I don't think it's possible for any one person or entity to be apolitical, thus I think they should simply be as honest as humanly possible.

Claiming any sort of neutrality merely serves to mask agendas.

It reminded me of various movies where a solid soap inside a sock is used as a weapon. Still I don't think this is what it's about in this case.

Related: https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanket_party

If I had to guess it's something (socks) you might give to a homeless person.

No, the problem is that it is literally the least useful form of "help" they could've given someone who is facing political persecution from the most powerful government on Earth. It's basically a really underhanded way of saying "you're on your own on this one".

We're not going to help you get out, so please accept these token socks and soap because you're on your own and you will need them in there.

I suspect they are responding because the recently added on espionage charges do pose a threat to journalism. The earlier, more narrow charges, didn't really mean much for journalists.

The accusations were only made public a few months ago (with some leaks less than a year ago pointing to them). If they feel so strongly that he's a journalist they should've been saying something for the past 7 years. Instead they've been publicly smearing him, and in some cases flat-out lying.

Assange predicted publicly for many years that the US was going to indict him under the Espionage Act, and now that it's happening everyone seems to be pretending that "we couldn't possibly have seen this coming!". I was still a high-school student in 2012 and I could see it as clear as day. I refuse to believe that any reasonable adult would be so naive to have not seen this coming.

What do you mean by "It's not even an article by the Guardian -- it's an opinion piece"

The author of the piece, Alan Rusbridger, is the Editor-in-chief of the Guardian

Rusbridger moved on in 2015. Also whilst editor he was complicit in the smear campaign against Assange which the Guardian has been running since seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Ah, I didn't look up the author's credentials -- I will edit my comment. Often opinion pieces in newspapers are not the same as articles written by journalists and published as fully-fledged articles (usually they have an implicit caveat of "this is not the official opinion of $newspaper").

I don't think you need to change anything. Rusbridger is no longer editor of the Guardian (he left in 2015).


I've edited it back -- though whether or not the article is by someone who works at the Guardian is the least important point I'm making.

The Guardian also saw an increase of their circulation - in a dying industry - during the time when they've published WikiLeaks and Snowden documents. Which translates into an increase of ad spending and consequently revenue.

Instead of blaming the press like they failed you as your life mentor, I’d also argue the actions of the media imply the disinterest of the people. The press is largely a mirror, just like marketing — it’s all based on what people think will sell to you. More articles on math? That doesn’t sell.

The press plays a much more important role when it comes to power. Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky is the classic text on the propaganda role of the press. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12617.Manufacturing_Cons...

This old BBC interview with Noam Chomsky about the topic is also illuminating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjENnyQupow

I would suggest you read "Manufacturing Consent" by Noam Chomsky. The media has an enormous amount of power in shaping public opinion, and in particular also has a massive amount of control over the Overton window. There are countless examples of this happening very publicly -- just in the past decade.

Agree, the Guardian has been one of the most vocal papers in attacking and ridiculing Assange. We collected some of this output here https://theguardian.fivefilters.org/assange/

Especially damning now with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture describing his treatment as psychological torture: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?N...

"Support non-corporate media"? Are you suggesting The Guardian is a corporation? (They are a trust.) Ah, your comment history shows you are waging a vendetta.

If you believe they are a trust (they're not), you should read this https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2015-03-03/hsbc-and-the-s... and this https://expressiveegg.org/2017/02/07/guardian-bothering/

You perhaps don't understand that the Articles and Memorandum of a Limited Company can define a very different model to what you are thinking. They are a trust, the Scott Trust.

> Are you suggesting The Guardian is a corporation?

The Guardian has been incorporated for hundreds of years. Yes they're a corporation.


PLC stands for Public Limited Company. A company is not a corporation.

I'm sorry, but your web site seems like a bit of nonsense veiled in a guise that it's out to present "the truth".

Many of the linked tweets don't resolve, and the rest of the web site appears to be purely a Greenwald support group in his seeming vendetta against his former employer.

The site also proclaims [paraphrasing] "do not trust the Guardian—read our write-ups of the same subjects instead".

I can't take that any more seriously than "corporate-state media".

I should add, if corporate-sponsored journalism outlets is a problem for your group, then I suggest you also drop The Intercept:

Financial backing for The Intercept was provided by Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Greenwald

> Many of the linked tweets don't resolve

Two of the three linked tweets don't resolve because the accounts appear to have removed older tweets. Having followed the two accounts for a while (Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard), I'm pretty sure this has nothing to do with a change of heart about the Guardian (a look at their recent tweets will confirm this).

Mark Curtis's tweet is captured by the Wayback Machine:


Matt Kennard's new Twitter account has plenty of interesting findings on the Guardian's deputy editor:


> the rest of the web site appears to be purely a Greenwald support group in his seeming vendetta against his former employer.

Our suggested reading page - https://theguardian.fivefilters.org/assange/better-media.htm... - contains only one link to a Greenwald article, but considering Greenwald led the reporting at the Guardian on the NSA revelations which won the Guardian a Pulitzer, I think his comments on this matter shouldn't be so easily dismissed.

> I should add, if corporate-sponsored journalism outlets is a problem for your group, then I suggest you also drop The Intercept: "Financial backing for The Intercept was provided by Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder."

Personally not a fan of The Intercept. I like Glenn Greenwald's work though.

I would argue that the only good journalism done by The Intercept is by Glenn Greenwald.

As for the rest of your comment, the general thrust of the page is accurate -- it is incredibly well-known that the Guardian has had a bone to pick with Julian Assange for years. Pretending that is not the case is an example of being intentionally misleading or deciding to ignore facts which disagree with your views.

I'm not picking on Greenwald, to be clear.

I also didn't say that they were inaccurate about their pointing out of the Guardian's treatment of Assange.

I'd argue that the Guardian never hid it. Also, that media literacy matters and you shouldn't treat every outlet as a single voice. It's terribly inaccurate and, I'd say, in bad faith to do so—as long as said outlet has a general track record for accuracy. Or, even more common, many outlets may have an injected column by interests, but they do not operate so unified as the page presumes.

I didn't read into the articles they've pointed out in any detail, but I'd pay more attention to who is writing them than painting an entire organization with one brush. That's a fools game. And likely to end up in reciprocal treatment.

Also to note—I wasn't just commenting on the page, but on the rest of the web site which maintains a theme of celebrating the Intercept above all other outlets.

It also comes across to me that GP's comment is derailing the nascent subject.

Editors have a lot of control over what is (and is not) published by a newspaper, so "the Guardian has a bone to pick with Julian Assange" could be translated to "the Guardian's editors have a bone to pick with Julian Assange". In addition, accuracy is not the only factor -- tone and angle are also incredibly important because they shape the conversation on a topic. And the tone of an article is definitely shaped by editors.

If there is a consistent record by a newspaper of negative (or in some cases outright false) articles about someone, I think it's fair to say that they have a bias against that person. I'm sure you'd agree with me the Fox News has a strong bias against AOC and Ilhan Omar -- it is sometimes reasonable to make a generalisation like that if the general trend is in a particular direction.

I don't think you can generalize editors so easily, either. They don't all operate on the same principles. Some exact more authority over tone than others. I don't know the Guardian's editors, so I can't speak to them.

I also can't speak to Fox News or American politics in that kind of detail.

Anyway this is going off of the main context of the thread, which was my original complaint. So if there's another one that comes up on this subject I think it would be more suitable to explore it there.

I wish people would just focus on the part that regards journalism, free press, free speech, sources and releasing leaked information.

All the rest will fall along political lines. Liked or disliked for the effects on political allies and foes. It’s obvious if you have followed this case.

Three years ago the right loathed him, today they love him and conversely today the left loathes him but 3 years ago they loved him. The state apparatus however still see this as an adversarial act.

So, instead let’s discuss the implications of censorship (state and self-imposed) and journalism this case has.

The implications are grim.

Governments worldwide are tightening the screws, becoming more secretive and spying extensively on their citizens. Voting doesn't work, as most parties support this encroachment on civil liberties in the name of fighting various evils.

I don't have any solutions and little hope. In the past it used to be that totalitarian governments fell because the population was poor and deeply unhappy. What happens when the government has access to almost perfect information about its citizens, insights that even they might not have? And if they are able to offer decent living standards in exchange for fewer freedoms, they would have an iron grip on power.

It's been "Brave New World" for a while now.

"The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.

Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World."


It also seems to me that the possibility of a revolution, in any sense of the word, is getting more and more miniscule, no matter which angle you look at it, whether it's because many people simply don't care or are happy to voluntarily give up private information for diminishing doses of dopamine hits.

The thing about any major revolutionary change is that the initial seed is planted through breaking some kind of law. And if we get to the point where breaking simple laws is impossible because of the near-complete information the state actor has on it's people, things are likely to get worse.

I do see a bleak future ahead. And grim.

The revolution needed is for people to quit letting the politicians and press to set their world view. One must remember that political parties extensively use market research to craft their message and through sycophants in the press will float trial balloons of upcoming campaign statements to see what will work.

Using fear, uncertainty, doubt, and jealously, the convince you to not only put them in office but to stand up for you by "taking care" of those they have taught you to dislike to the point you are now voting people in to punish others.

How we fix that I don't know. However remember one thing. A religious leader demanding action on a moral backing is many many times less dangerous than a politician using a moral stance because theirs changes on a whim

“Politicians need religion even more than a hermit in retreat. If a hermit acts out of bad motivation, he harms no one but himself. But if someone who can directly influence the whole of society acts with bad motivation, then a great number of people will be adversely affected.”

The day I discovered this quote was a rather striking moment. I find it continues to be relevant. Especially when one considers the demagoguery and celeb - I don't just mean TV, note how certain politicians/bootlickers are treated right now - worship that we are effectively replacing establishment religion.

Also important to note that they both use religion. Who puts money in the tithe plate? Not the megachurch preacher. I am a former christian and I struggle to see many differences between a preacher and a politician. Especially celebrity evangelists.

I’m not sure about this take.

One revolutions are overwhelmingly bloody and sow seeds of distrust and division among groups.

Two, most aren’t grass-roots but usually orchestrated by larger interests who then coöpt a desperate and vulnerable public.

[added] The effects of revolutions can have deleterious repercussions for several generations down the line.

Three, revolutions have always led to counter-revolutionary movements, that almost always attain some degree of power in the new system too. Bloody vicious cycles of purges and counter-purges follow. With a new system and the very same megalomaniac people in power, not much changes -- except for one or two key-issues the revolution wanted to tackle initially.

A window will re-open (maybe permanently) when the majority of humans live in space habitats. Because of the long distances between habitats[1], the relatively small populations of each[2], and the fragility of the habitat[3], I expect local governments to be more responsive to their citizens.

[1] parent nation takes longea to respond with overwhelming force/more time for local rebellions to solidify control

[2] not enough population to sustain a large garrison but also easier to get a significant portion of the population engaged.

[3] catastrophic sabotage is easier so discontent must be addressed more proactively. Also external applications of force may be limited to massacre or siege since boarding a hostile ship becomes very dangerous.

W re: space habitats (extremely fragile living environments), that’s difficult.

When picking astronauts or cosmonauts they test and screen against negative psychological indicators.

In these environments discontent is a separate issue form psychological issues. Regular discontented people are generally not suicidal. Given that, unless what these people are responsible for is ultra valuable, I think this condition works against them. Unless they have complete independence, they are reliant on the dominant organization who could take advantage of this weak position.

According to research I’ve read revolutions grow more likely only when food prices exceed the average income of the population. That is - populations only revolt when starving. That would explain why we see so little of them - starvation level poverty is perhaps becoming less common? This would be a good thing.

Only well-funded revolutions historically succeeded. The only way might be crypto-based revolution, but I doubt that. Another way is a disorganized chaos when a society implodes, but that rarely brings better things.

==Three years ago the right loathed him, today they love him and conversely today the left loathes him but 3 years ago they loved him.==

Not necessarily true according to this poll [1]. The alt-right might love him, but rank-and-file Republicans don't seem to:

"A new YouGov poll of 2,455 Americans shows that a majority (53%) say Assange should be extradited to America. That majority increases among both Republicans (59% supporting extradition) and Democrats (62% supporting extradition), but decreases to a plurality (46%) among Independents."

[1] https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/20...

That is fascinating. I can't think of any other opinion where Republicans and Democrats have more in common than Independents, off the top of my head.

And the attack comes from the greatest democracy in the world. It is not from a dictatorial state. If the heroes are this way...

I disagree; much of the right still seems to be calling for him to be locked away for a long time despite his role in getting Trump elected. Much of the left (including the Guardian in this article) is calling for charges to be dropped.

> Much of the left (including the Guardian in this article) is calling for charges to be dropped.

I really don't think this is true. The Guardian is more acutely aware of the threat this poses to general protections afforded journalists (even outside the U.S.)

Assange's reputation is putting an unfortunate taint to the story; if we separate the man from what's actually being done in the criminal charges, it's probably a lot clearer to people from both sides of the aisle that this is a threat to the fourth estate.

The OP's point is that many people have flipped their positions on this topic - particularly when it suits them politically.

True, many leftist news organizations have been consistently defending him and calling this out as an attack on free speech. For example, the Intercept, Democracy Now, Jacobin, etc.

But that's the marginal class-based left; the liberal left, meaning the ones with any sort of power (e.g. Democratic Party, the Guardian, WaPo, NYT, etc...) generally have a history of condemning him while sometimes at the same moment profiting from publishing his leaks.

This is true. Words matter, if OP meant liberals they should've said liberals, not "the left".

>Three years ago the right loathed him

Please do not conflate the right and the neocons.

What I don't understand is the the following.

1. Julian is not a United States of America Citizen. So USA laws don't apply to him, unless he is in the USA and has committed a crime or offense of some kind

2. Julian is a citizen of another country. How do the laws of USA all of a sudden encompass people outside of the USA? Yes, wikileaks did receive "secret" stuff, but the exposure of these events is for the greater good and exposes how the USA is corrupt and "evil." The USA needs to be held accountable for their actions. The USA has no business in other countries, killing, maiming, destroying their homes and lives. Regardless of what happened on 9/11, which I was present on NYC when it happened. Yes, it was horrible, but our own government and their meddling in the affairs of other nations is to blame

Is there some kind of unknown laws of the USA that apply to people and countries not part of the USA (non-citizens and other countries)?


Personally I believe the charges levied by the US have been trumped up, and even if they were true the offense were minor and this amounts to overzealous prosecution. So putting aside for a second whether the charges against Assange are valid or not. This is the line of reasoning being used:

1) Assange allegedly assisted in hacking US Defense Department computers. The means that he allegedly broke US laws on virtual US soil. They are also alleging that he was a conspirator that directed crimes on US soil via his agent, Manning. If he say hacked a Russian computer and the US was prosecuting him it would be a different story.

2) The US and UK have very strong extradition treaties and will generally extradite with very few questions asked. In most cases the legal systems of the US and UK are trustworthy and compatible enough for this to be a fairly reasonable thing.

Again ignoring the specifics of this case, these general principles of law are generally good. The US, and international community have a strong interest in protecting their assets. If you want to virtually strike at a country in a targeted attack you should be prepared to face the consequences -- sitting in another country while you perform it is not a valid excuse. Imagine a more clear cut case, some Russian hacker group hacks a US bank and steals millions of dollars, that seems reasonable to prosecute right?

The US doesn't care much where you physically are when you commit a crime against the US. For instance, if you conspire to traffic drugs into the US, the US can come after you. It doesn't matter if you're physically in the US or not when you do it.

If an estranged noncitizen parent living abroad conspires to kidnap his children from their custodial parent inside the US, he can be tried for kidnapping by the US. Even if his part of the conspiracy never takes place inside the US. The alternative- just letting him off, due to where he happened to physically be at the time- would be fairly absurd. The jurisdiction he's physically in probably doesn't care, and even if they do, most of the witnesses and all of the victims are physically in the US.

The US can't kidnap him but asking the jurisdiction he is in to extradite him is totally normal. This is what extradition agreements are for, in part.

> So USA laws don't apply to him, unless he is in the USA and has committed a crime or offense of some kind

Physical presence is an odd requirement. So if I pay people to deliver bombs to people in the USA, but I'm not in the USA, I haven't committed a crime?

Well... Depends. It might not be a crime in the country "X" where you are. It might be a crime in the USA, but country "X" won't extradict you because it doesn't consider it to be a crime. Even if you are a citzen from country "B", where B and USA consider it a crime.

International crimes depend on a lot of factors.

Yes, but not in the USA. You did not bomb - you paid for it, in another country that should judge that.

Army size always correlates to more diplomatic power. You also have US military bases everywhere in Europe. Not the reverse. Europe relies heavily on US troops for their defense. So if the US perceives Assange as the threat, the rest of EU better does as well! It's that simple.

It remains to be seen whether the charges under the Espionage Act stick. They may not and I don't think they should. But it seems a bit breathless to declare these charges a "threat to journalism". Assange participated in the leaking of classified documents, which is different than simply publishing.

There's a sharp divide in how people view Assange. Some buy into his hipster-tech-Jesus persona. These people think the rape (read: surreptitious condom removal) allegations were materialized by the US government, somehow overlooking the fact that nearly everyone who has interacted with Assange has a negative opinion of him personally (see - https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n05/andrew-ohagan/ghosting).

I see Assange as a tragic figure. Publishing the "Collateral Murder" video was good. But Assange's worldview is basically incoherent. "All information should be open" is a naive position and there's a > 0 chance that Assange was used by Russia. When you publish everything, you're obviously putting yourself in a position in which you can be used. Further, states are allowed to have secrets for the same reason people are allowed to have secrets. It isn't possible for governments to conduct foreign policy with everything in the open. Basically, Assange did not "publish responsibly" and I believe his motivation was mostly personal fame. I'd contrast Assange with Daniel Ellsberg rather than comparing them as this article does.

That said, I think the US government would have been better off not pursuing him at all. Now that they have him, I hope he just gets a slap on the wrist.

> Assange participated in the leaking of classified documents, which is different than simply publishing.

This is an accusation made by the US government, it's not a fact. WikiLeaks accepted leaked documents and published them after verifying they were true. This is basically what journalists do (though they usually write articles that summarise the leaks).

Also, WikiLeaks did redact documents on many ocassions (in some cases even asking the US State Department what information should not be published). Everyone remembers the mostly-unredacted leaks of the war logs, but most people haven't followed up and seen that they did start redacting more things after the backlash. Though they never redacted sources or methods because those things have proven to help people in the past.

> This is an accusation made by the US government, it's not a fact.

Are you claiming the chat logs that show Assange offering assistance cracking passwords are fake?

"Assange participated in the leaking of classified documents, which is different than simply publishing".


The DoJ would love for you to testify for them as this is what they accuse him of doing.

""All information should be open" is a naive position"


He also does obviously doesn't believe this as literally as you're interpreting it, demonstrated by his own words and actions such as redacting.

"a > 0 chance that Assange was used by Russia"

This can be said about every publication ever made by anyone, ever. Even those with known sources.

"Basically, Assange did not "publish responsibly" and I believe his motivation was mostly personal fame."

Source? Relevance?

If I believe your statement is motivated by personal fame, why does it matter?

Can you point to a journalist who is, without a doubt, devoid of desire for fame?

You might view this response as mildly combative, but I'm trying to be succinct.

Better late than never. The appropriate time for an article like this and coming to his defense would have been last month when Assange moved from the Ecuadorian embassy to a UK prison. Especially considering that they benefited from collaborating with Assange and wikileaks for the very same things he's currently being held prison (and lets not get started on the BS. charges from Sweden).

The Guardian would do well to call on the UK government to release this man immediately.

Really, the right time was 7 years ago. Last month was the last time it would've been possible to do anything about it at all. Now it is beyond too late -- it's a travesty of justice. Once he's shipped to the US there is effectively nothing we can do (other than hope a future president commutes his sentence before they torture him to death or insanity). IIRC the District Court of Virginia has never ruled in favour of the defendant in cases involving the Espionage Act -- which is why they prosecute all whistleblowers there. The idea he is going to have a fair trial is laughable.

Assange isn't in a UK prison because of leaking documents, but because he jumped bail.

Pretending this has nothing to do with Wikileaks is very disingenuous/naive. The Swedes would likely have quickly dropped the case if they hadn't been pressured by the US to not do so. The amount of press this case got in Sweden almost from day 1 was very unusual. The Swedes normally don't commit character murder like this without a trial. Yet, Assange was named and shamed in public, lots of details were leaked, and when the prosecutor dropped the case, she was overruled. It's not normal for high level politicians to get involved with cases like this in Sweden.

From what I understand, it was never actually a really strong case. Yet, the Swedes went all out on this. Likewise, the UK would never have put as much effort in pursuing such a minor matter had it not been for the Wikileaks thing. Nor would the Ecuadorians have considered hosting him for seven years. Both the US and UK have repeatedly pressured Sweden to not drop their extradition request and arrest warrant.

The fact that he's now being extradited to the US rather than Sweden only confirms that Wikileaks is the only reason all this stuff happened to Assange. Otherwise he'd be on his way to Sweden now. This was about the Swedish extradition request right until he walked out of the embassy.

The extradition request was just signed by the UK home secretary - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48624024

Now the court system will decide over the coming months/years whether or not to hand him over to the US, where he has a good chance of being imprisoned for a very long time.

I think that just means the request valid (correctly filled out form). If it is legal gets decided in the courts.

It means that the current government has decided they want to support his extradition on these grounds. That's why the Home Secretary has to approve the request - there's a political aspect to extradition.

I don't really buy it.

The crime he was accused of by the US is helping someone try to break into a laptop. That's beyond most journalistic standards for conduct and a criminal act.

We'll see what can be proved in court from here.

He is also being accused of 17 counts of breaching the Espionage Act with a maximum sentence of several lifetimes in prison. The conspiracy to break the CFAA charge was just the taster -- and I would argue that it was done tactically so that the discussion of Julian would be "he's a hacker not a journalist". If I was working for the DoJ that's without question what I would've done -- whether the accusations were true or not.

We live in a society based on the presumption of innocence. Just because the US government says something (which happens to be incredibly helpful for their narrative) does not make it true.

Also, he wasn't accused of trying to break into a laptop. He was accused of allegedly offering to help Chelsea Manning crack a password hash (which he never did). Aside from the fact that johntheripper is free software and is so trivial to use that teenagers know about it (making the entire story seem suspect on its face) it completely ignores that this is ridiculously minor compared to the Espionage Act indictments.

Which should be legal since the US does breach privacy around the world (with the help of his awfully quite home country).

So I don't see the justification to prosecute him. Of course governmental data of the US isn't protected from non-citizen access. Why should it, these are the rules they themselves set. It is naive to think that governmental actors have an advantage at espionage. On the contrary. The most advantages has anyone without critical secrets.

I think the espionage act topic is worthy of discussion.

The question about the laptop is pretty settled to me. It's against the law to help someone try to break into something like that. I think that is a valid law, doing so is step well outside what a journalist should do, and all of that is regardless if you are successful or not. Also we'll see what he says in court about that, I could have sworn he or his lawyer already noted their lack of success, that sounded like they were talking about actually trying to do it.

I do think in my mind the two topics are tied together, if someone is not behaving as a journalist then I think the context of the charges changes dramatically.

> The question about the laptop is pretty settled to me.

Why do you keep repeating that he "hacked into laptop"? As I mentioned above, the accusation is related to Chelsea Manning asking him to help them crack a password hash that Manning acquired by dual-booting on a Linux machine and him agreeing to (and Assange never did help Manning crack it).

As I said, I seriously question the truth of such a claim because anyone even slightly technical knows that there's effectively just one tool you use to crack Unix hashes -- johntheripper. I knew that in high-school.

>Why do you keep repeating that he "hacked into laptop"?

I think there might be some confusion here. I didn't say that. You misquoted me in the other reply as well.

We'll see in court if he can prove he did or didn't help.

I don't think how well you know the application in question really has anything to do with the viability of the claim.

> I don't think how well you know the application in question really has anything to do with the viability of the claim.

My point is that Assange knows what johntheripper is. Any 15-year-old that has downloaded Kali Linux knows what it is. So it seems incredibly strange to act as though breaking a hash is any more complicated than just running johntheripper (or hashcat, or any other brute-force tool) on it.

Assuming their claim is true (that he did actually offer to do it), I would think it most likely he was lying to Manning in order to get them to leak more things. According to most accounts he isn't a particularly nice person, so that seems far more in-character to me.

You're behind. That was one charge. That charge doesn't really matter anymore. It wasn't really the attack on freedom of the press that the new charges are.

He's now being charged under the Espionage act for asking for classified info and publishing it. The new charges are what matter and what everyone is talking about.

Ironically, TheGuardian is smearing Jordan Peterson's new free speech platform before it even launched.


Amazing the guardian are complaining. Their editorial line usually comes from MI6


Please don't take HN threads straight into repetitive flamewar hell.


Fair enough.

However, this is the type of sensationalist garbage that shouldn't be allowed here in the first place. How does this article promote intellectual curiosity?

Assange's story has been discussed on HN for many years. Obviously there's intellectual interest in it, but also many sensational articles. This one was downweighted by moderators and flagged by users.

When there's a major ongoing story, we generally penalize articles that don't add significant new information. Otherwise there are too many follow-up and copycat submissions.


Who gets to decide who is a journalist? The government?

Utlimately, yes. And it varies from state to state. https://www.rcfp.org/journals/the-news-media-and-the-law-win...

Any American "standards" for what a journalist is or isn't isn't really applicable to an international defendent, which Assange is, yeah?

If so, then you must admit that America is imposing it's own (subjective and ever-changing, depending on the parties in power) view on the international theatre and that's where the concern starts to get exacerbated.

Assange broke US law, encouraging the theft of classified intel belonging to the US and then publishing it. It doesnt matter where Assange was geographically when he did so.

Example if I were to hack a foreign gov't or company's computers while residing in the US and being on US soil at the time, I would still be breaking that country's laws and could be arrested and extradited to that country.

This is an agreement many countries have with one another. Assange broke US law and therefore could be tried in a US court.

> encouraging the theft of classified intel belonging to the US and then publishing it.

Actually the order is the opposite: he received intel which had already been stolen - which is legal, see New York Times Co. v. United States - and then encouraged Manning to search for any more stuff, but never received anything more.

>then encouraged Manning to search for any more stuff

So, he did in fact encourage the theft of classified info?! Doesnt matter if it didnt produce any results. There was still intent. Secondly, do you think Manning is the first he tried that with? Don't be naive.

I was just clarifying.

I could make you a huge list of US persons that have broken international laws and laws in other countries that have not been extradited and never will.

Yes. Isn't that something that ultimately the courts will have to decide?

> Isn't that something that ultimately the courts will have to decide?

Why would they need to decide that?

Are there laws which only apply to journalists, or don't apply to journalists?

All those links seem on first look to say ‘they need to follow all laws like anyone else would’. Was there something specific?

I think people think there’s some kind of special legal status of being a journalist, like a police officer or something. I’m not sure that’s the case.

The gov't can arrest you any time they want for any reason they'd like. Courts ultimately decide whether or not it was lawful. To answer your question. also...

"Under the First Amendment, laws "abridging the freedom...of the press" are invalid. Most states also have their own laws in place which protect reporters from having to disclose their sources and, in certain cases, unpublished materials. Some states have even included "free press" provisions in their state constitutions." ~ https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/can-a-journalist-be-force....

You can try and call yourself a journalist but you will need a court to uphold it.

You are free to believe whatever youd like but I choose to live in reality... Assange is no journalist.

“As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable” -- Ninth Circuit, deciding that a blogger count as "press", in Obsidian v. Cox.

Your link doesn't in any way support the distinction you're making, because the issue is who counts as "press", not whether the press has some rights.

So no.

Not only is he not a journalist, he actively encouraged others to steal and disseminate classified information. That is a crime in this country and most, if not all, other countries I would imagine.

Having a website doesn't make you a journalist. Calling yourself a journalist didn't make it so. Courts will have to decide that I suppose.

He's not even a US citizen. Why should he face our laws? Should American woman be extradited to Saudi Arabia for not following their laws? Should American citizens be extradited to North Korea, or China, for exposing their government secrets? It's extremely authoritarian for the United States to do this. It's not only an attack on free speech, it's the United States applying it's laws to everyone in the world.

Also, it doesn't matter if he's a journalist or not. It's an attack on freedom of the press or freedom of speech either way.

Actually we have extradition treaties/agreements with many countries so yes if an American were to break the law of another country that country could in fact ask to have that person arrested and extradited.

We do, but isn't that typically when the law was originally broken in the country they are to be extradited to? Not overseas? I'm also aware this isn't the first time the U.S. has done this sort of thing, but it's still very authoritarian.

So... let me get this straight. Youre alright with a foreign national stealing or encouraging the theft of classified US intel and publishing as long as it didnt happen on US soil? Further, youre alright with Americans being exposed and/or killed b/c of it? Because, you know, though it was a crime against the US, it was perpetrated by a foreign national of foreign soil?

That's beside the point. I don't think the person in that example should face charges in the U.S., no. (But maybe they should in their own country, and obviously any murderers should be brought to trial in their own country)

I, like the government, would disagree with you on that. Obviously youre entitled to that opinion.

>Further, youre alright with Americans being exposed and/or killed b/c of it?

There's no evidence of this. Since the leaks were about embarrassing unprosecuted US military murders of civilians arguably it saved lives by driving them to be more careful.

There is no evidence of this that you are aware of.

>There's no evidence of this. Since the leaks were about embarrassing unprosecuted US military murders of civilians arguably it saved lives by driving them to be more careful.

this is absolute nonsense

> There is no evidence of this that you are aware of.

Then if the prosecutors are unable to present said evidence, should he be free to go?

Is there evidence that you are aware of?

Does there need to be? No. An E-3 isn't in the position to know whether it will or won't and its pretty fucking arrogant to assume that risk. Do you know that it saved lives? No you don't. You couldnt, and whether it did or did not, it wasn't Manning's call to make.

That's what I figured. Not all of us are American sycophants, so yes, more than the word and reputation of the American military is needed.

>He's not even a US citizen. Why should he face our laws

Because he allegedly spied on our country. That gives us the right to charge him.

If someone plots to murder someone but does it over the Internet, should they be immune from legal action?

It's good that we should think that journalists should be non partisan and just report on the facts. The reality appears that almost all of the media outlets are partisan and that journalists appear to be biased. Would it be better if we spread the idea that no journalism is impartial and spread facts of such bias and influence where we encounter them or would it be better to put our effort into (what I assume is the current strategy) of promoting the idea that it's only the other side that is partisan and our side sees clearly?

When you encourage others to steal classified information and then publish it without regard to the harm it may cause others, you are not a journalist, you are a criminal. When you go on to publish stolen information about one Presidential candidate, in a foreign election no less, and not the other you are no longer a journalist - not that he ever was, you are a tool.

Im not making an argument about whether or not the current state of journalism is biased - of course it is. Im simply saying Assange is no journalist.

Your statement makes no sense. There is a lot of information that ought to be exposed, is classified and will cause harm to some people. Exposing secrets almost necessarily will cause harm to somebody.

Furthermore you refuse to allow assange to be classified as a journalist on that basis, which is exactly what Glenn greenwald did. So I suppose you would disqualify Glenn greenwald as a journalist as well? If not you’re wildly inconsistent.

I personally think Glenn Greenwald is piece of shit but that is beside the point. It doesnt matter what I think about whether or not the information in question should be exposed. As a person that has held a security clearance I can tell you this, it isnt for me to decide - That decision was way above my pay grade. I personally believe both Snowden and Manning should be imprisoned for a better part of the rest of their lives, but thats just me. They arent heroes, no matter how much you try to make that so. Its pretty egotistical of someone to believe they can see the bigger picture and know what the outcome of exposing that data will be. Data is classified for a reason and that decision wasn't made by you or I. It'd be even more maniacal of someone to decide the fate of others by exposing it which is what Assange, Snowden, Manning, and others have decided of their own volition to do.

That is a fair position. On the other hand, the people above your pay grade making those decisions are also deciding the fate of others. The distinction, of course, is that they have the legal legitimacy that you and I do not have.

But when those decisions go beyond the law, then that legal legitimacy can no longer be claimed, and they are just as egotistical for believing they can see beyond the lawmakers and courts. And unlike in the case of Assange, Snowden and Manning, we know their decisions have cost the lives of civilians, often children.

So as a citizen outside of the whole thing, I can only look at two groups of "maniacs" (to use your term) and be flabbergasted that we're even talking about the bad deeds of those three, let alone of only those three. If they deserve to be imprisoned for a better part of the rest of their lives, what does the other group deserve? Multiple life sentences?

Exactly. He willingly participated in a Russian cyber/disinformation attack on the US electoral system. Whatever journalistic bona fides he once possessed are long gone.

Where's the proof of this?

>The precise nature of WikiLeaks’ relationship to Moscow is not publicly known. A PolitiFact analysis found a documented pattern in which both parties’ interests appeared to align. Elements of the relationship might be clarified in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, though a full accounting of their possible coordination may never be known.

In other words: this is all speculation, there's no evidence of coordination other than it looking like it for people who are already wanting that as their narrative.

We don't know Wikileak's source. Assange has said it wasn't a state actor or Russia and he has a flawless track record for the information he provides. There's not even a real level of reliability in knowing who hacked the DNC or Hillary servers. The servers were never given to law enforcement to look at, and there are details in the story that don't add up to it being an external party that took the data.

>In other words: this is all speculation, there's no evidence of coordination other than it looking like it for people who are already wanting that as their narrative.

It's amazing that people cannot see beyond their own self-righteous indignation enough to discern that this is what's happening.

I don't think he ever had any "journalistic bona fides" to begin with.

Just because Assange did one (or more) good things (Collateral Murder) does not make everything else he does, also good. Assange is not a journalist, and ceased being a journalist when he decided to enforce personal agendas and arguably work with nation-states to harm other nation-states. Even if you believe he's a journalist, journalists should not be above the law even if part of their work is for the good of the people.

I hope you really didn't think that through. Because you just suggested that journalists should not exist when outlawed then.

If they are completely subservient to the law then they should not break it even when it is wrong. Therefore it is justified to do violence against them.

Goddamn right journalists should be above the law! The truth is fundamentally above the law as nothing written as law can change the truth. The nation-states running travesties and making reporting on them state secrets that is even more reason to report on them.

Fuck treating nation-states and laws as sacred. Any student of 20th century history (really before) should know why doing so is a dangerous, stupid, and /evil/ idea.

> Goddamn right journalists should be above the law!

In very select instances, and under certain circumstances. A corrupt journalist is terrible and shouldn't be above the law at all. Granted you could argue that he's not a journalist if he doesn't adhere to journalistic standards, but that just makes it a battle over "is this person a journalist?"

> "is this person a journalist?"

the proper angle would be "was the presented data believed true at the moment of reporting" - even if this leave the door open for manipulation by omission, it can't really be more stringent than that without becoming dangerous.

"Goddamn right journalists should be above the law!" - so the Monarchy should not be above the law (Magna Carta), but journalists should?

The last people I would want to have additional privileges are journalists, who often love to create spin or ruin people's lives for a story.

The point of being above the law isn't about legal standards - power corrupts and the nominal protection without anything to back it is meaningless.

The only literal solution to that would be a daft concept of a nation-state of journalists with nuclear arms to give diplomatic immunity. Technically possible but a throughly daft idea that would create its own nation-state to corrupt.

Journalist legal immunity would be problematic in how it is defined as it could be used as a cudgel to restrict it to those who "play ball".

I suspect that an affirmative defense being recognized would probably be the best. So "broke into the Pentagon and published information on blacksites" would be protected but not "got drunk, beat spouse, then hit someone with your car". Even that is flawed as the judge could discard it or it could be given to cronies - plus again not an absolute defense against malfeasance. Said ideals are in short supply. Journalists would ideally be ethereal immortals - unable to be caged, killed, or silenced but we don't live in such a place.

The point for now is to see what was shown, ignore the "but that is illegal" and pay attention to the truth to use it to guide your decisions in a complicated world.

> Just because Assange did one (or more) good things (Collateral Murder) does not make everything else he does, also good.

Who is saying this? It was simply a demonstrable example of why people need the protections we afford the media.

> Assange is not a journalist,

There exists no binary test for "a journalist"/"not a journalist" and by the broadest definition it's not a particularly hard thing to meet. By quibbling over the definition we create wiggle room for the government to decide when someone isn't or isn't a journalist and charge accordingly. We should afford someone like Assange the same general rights we would for a veteran journalist at WSJ or NYT.

I took a look at the list for Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting and asked myself, how many of those journalists broke the law?

The 2019 winner reported on a University of Southern California gynecologist accused of violating hundreds of young women. In order to write the story they went to former USC employees and solicited, among other things, patient confidential information. This is of course a crime by both the journalists and former employees, but one that most people will agree benefited society.

I wonder how many other journalists has won that award because they approach people to get confidential information in order to further a investigation. My guess is a lot. I doubt we could have investigative reporting at all if journalists could not ask questions in fear of being guilty of soliciting confidential information.

In order to write the story they went to former USC employees and solicited, among other things, patient confidential information.

What you have written is libel, and I suggest you remove your comment, since the LA Times has stated exactly how they conducted the investigation.

Ryan, Hamilton and a third colleague, Paul Pringle, kept knocking on doors, and over a period of months, they persuaded more than 20 current and former USC employees and a handful of former patients to talk on an anonymous basis. The story they told was jaw-dropping.

Unlike similar stories about sexual abuse, our investigation did not have the benefit of police records, court filings or other public documents because none existed. It was based almost exclusively on interviews.

The LA Times journalists did not look at patient records for the first story; they based the reporting solely on interviews with patients and with staff. They found these patients by basically just cold-calling people that might have been victims until they found some. Given the hundreds of women the doctor molested, this was actually not that hard to do (though in most cases this would have been like finding a needle in a haystack).

After the story broke, hundreds of women contacted the LA Times and provided permission for the LA Times to access their records as part of the investigation because they didn't trust USC to investigate properly without external pressure.

Source: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-times-pulitzer-geo...

From the source you linked:

"This story is based on interviews with more than 20 current and former USC employees. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing patient confidentiality laws"

Odd behavior citing patient confidentiality laws if the former USC employees does not think they divulged any information that is covered by patient confidentiality.

> arguably work with nation-states to harm other nation-states

The claim by Mueller that the emails were stolen by Russian operatives is an incredible stretch of the imagination given the following:

* The public audit logs during the leaks provides clear evidence that the transfer must have happened locally using a USB drive because the transfer speed was too fast to happen over the internet -- Bill Binney and some other ex-NSA whistleblowers did tests to verify this[1]. Which makes it seem quite likely it was leaked by an insider of the DNC.

* Where did the data provided by the report (such as "XYZ searched for 'russia' on the DNC servers") come from? You might think the NSA, but all NSA intel is classified and so the President must have declassified it (which we would've heard about). It seems incredibly likely that this "evidence" was provided by the third-party "cyber threat intelligence" company which the DNC gave their email server to instead of the FBI when they broke the chain of custody.

Now, it is still possible that it happened -- but it is at the very least an incredibly suspicious claim.

[1]: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/24/intel-vets-challenge-r...

You accuse him again of working with other countries, first of all there is no proof, second if I I am not an US citizen why should be bad for me to work for say China and publish Trump/Hillary emails.

Then finally he is accused because he promised to look into how to crack some passwords, the accusations are very weak and the result will be similar to the result of the "Saddam chemical weapons", aka US will decide that he won'ts you then some pretext will be created and then the propaganda will start to justify the pretext.

this whole election interference thing is egregious because it's the typical crime that's only bad when bad people do it, which is a very ugly and problematic standard when it comes to building a trial.

on the accusation of having extracted information as opposed to having received information I think we really don't have the elements to reach an informed conclusion, albeit I suspect by how the story developed that the trial will not be particularly fair to him.

Thank you. There is such thing as legitimate secrets. The threat of jail for wholesale and thoughtless release of top secret information... is a good threat. Professional journalists know this and shouldn't jump on the Assange bandwagon; they understand that their power comes a duty of care.

Secrets are just that, secrets. Not some legally protected object. If you don't want your secrets getting out, then don't tell people them, or better yet - don't do bad things. Making secrets legally protected for those that have not signed an NDA and do not participate in government inner-workings or aren't even citizens of that country is a dangerous precedent that erodes the first amendment.

What would stop a government from making something "classified" ex post facto just to silence and/or jail nay-sayers, political opponents, or oppressed peoples? The answer is nothing, and this is exactly why this cannot stand.

So, a journalist could publish the design documents for the F-35? The newest hydrogen bomb? Information on how we are spying on the North Koreans? Proof that military intelligence isn’t always 100% correct and has bombed groups incorrectly? Proof that we are spying on suspected terrorists who have recently been granted US citizenship? I believe there is a line somewhere in the above scenarios, and journalists are responsible for determining where that line exists. Assange appears to have a different interpretation of where that line is from the US government officials.

If a secret is legitinate nobody should need threats of jail to keep it but its own merits.

Even the damnable rhetorical justification for abuses "fire in a crowded theater" standard of nuclear launch codes this applies to - since if they were compromised let the whole goddamn world know it is 1-2-3-4-5 so that they can have actual security instead of illusion of security and the fuck ups responsible being safe from any deserved backlash.

If I am a non US journalist why should be illegal for me to publish an US secret especially war crimes and not weapon or defense designs ?

This is why there are countless indictments against sources. Editorial work [the very things he is accused of] should not be viewed as illegitimate -- even if you think that the sources should be jailed -- they have made the information public...

However that may be, sloppy/negligent editorial work i.e. the release of names (uncensored) can very well be a judicial issue -- but that is not what he is accused of. And it should definitely not be persecuted with the remnant of a war-time power grab [espionage act].

Secrets need to be justified. Otherwise you cannot hold your allegedly democratic government accountable.

War crimes are no valid secrets and there was no legitimate channel. You would be ethically required to act and leak the information.

Apparently not big enough of a threat to organize protests as big as those in Hong Kong right now.

Title response, no it's not.

This is reductive and not particularly useful. If the dissemination of information in this way is itself criminalized it puts shackles on the media's abilities to provide insight into the inner workings of the government.

If journalists are imprisoned, then it is.

There's a pretty big difference between:

'free media'


'doxing individuals who's identities were protected because if they are publicly revealed not only are their lives at serious risk but it also exposes their close family and friends to rape/murder/torture until a time at which they are found and violently murdered because terrorists and hostile governments actually do this sort of thing to their perceived enemies, just like what happened to journalists (not informants/spies) like Jamal Khashoggi and many of the REAL journalists listed at https://cpj.org/data/killed/ '

The irony in your argument is absolutely breath taking. The footage of the US Military murdering a dozen people, of which 2 worked for the press, was part of leaks for which he now faces charges.

"How dare he show the US murdering journalists! That could lead to more journalist getting murdered."

Not to mention the evidence of the US government lying about the numbers of civilian casualties (read: murders), or the many examples of money laundering, and tit-for-tat deals. The idea that nothing was gained from the Afghan/Iraqi war logs alone is beyond ridiculous. Let alone the mountains of other leaks they published before and since.

No, the comment refers to Wikileaks releasing the names of American informants in Iraq, potentially endangering their lives.

Future WikiLeak publications took more care redacting documents (even asking the US State Department for advice). So I disagree with what WikiLeaks did in that instance, and it's clear they adjusted their ways.

But it should also be made very clear that there is zero evidence that anyone was harmed as a result of the leak. Yes, this may have been luck or lots of effort by the US State Department, but it still something to consider.

That's an extraordinarily mild way to respond to a massive and thoughtless leak of extremely sensitive information. I wonder if you are so charitable towards the US government! They no doubt would also have claim to have mended their ways since the release of the "collateral murder" video.

>even asking the US State Department for advice

A disingenuous request.

>and it's clear they adjusted their ways.

This is actually far from clear.

> That's an extraordinarily mild way to respond to a massive and thoughtless leak of extremely sensitive information.

I said that I disagree with what that aspect of what they did, and had I been in that situation I would've redacted many more things. But I agree with their publishing of the documents. I'm not sure what response you'd like me to have -- call for him to be in prison for the rest of his life?

> I wonder if you are so charitable towards the US government!

They are the most powerful government in the world, and are blatantly violating the Nuremberg convention and their own constitution. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are not.

> They no doubt would also have claim to have mended their ways since the release of the "collateral murder" video.

They haven't claimed that (Obama claimed that they "tortured folks" and have stopped, but Guantanamo Bay is still "open for business"). But even if they did claim it, we have plenty of evidence they haven't. But we do have evidence that WikiLeaks did start redacting more documents -- because many of their subsequent leaks had more heavily redacted documents.

> A disingenuous request.

So what would've made you happy? That they don't publish anything? Newspapers ask the government to help redact leaked documents all the time (the Guardian even did line-by-line redactions of the Snowden documents with GCHQ). I really don't understand what your bar for "responsible journalism" is, if doing what other journalists do is not enough.

> I'm not sure what response you'd like me to have -- call for him to be in prison for the rest of his life?

I think endangering the lives of multiple people ought to merit some kind of punishment, yes.

> That they don't publish anything?

That they make a serious attempt to redact sensitive info that it's not in the public interest to reveal. Their official reason for not doing so with the Afghan cables was, essentially, that they couldn't be bothered. Assange plainly and openly didn't give a crap if anyone was hurt as a result. Has there ever been an apology from Wikileaks?

Come on, you don't need cooperation from the US authorities to blank out the name of someone who's mentioned as being, say, a CIA informant.

> I think endangering the lives of multiple people ought to merit some kind of punishment, yes.

That is definitely a valid point-of-view (and it's not one that I necessarily disagree with), but that's simply not what he is being charged with.

> Assange plainly and openly didn't give a crap if anyone was hurt as a result.

If you're referring to the claim that he said "informants deserve what they get", this quote could not be corroborated with anyone else who was involved in the conversation where he apparently said that. Given what lies David Leigh went on to say about Julian Assange afterwards it seems likely this claim was also a lie.

> Come on, you don't need cooperation from the US authorities to blank out the name of someone who's mentioned as being, say, a CIA informant.

One of the main concerns was that due to the technical manner in which diplomatic cables are written, you actually do need to have an expert figure out whether there is any implied references to a particular informant that doesn't mention their name. The Guardian and other newspapers did spend lots of time doing this for a very small number of documents.

But again, that doesn't change that they should've done more to redact them. And in future leaks, they did.

"I reviewed the statement of someone that a London paper claimed to be speaking for some part of the Taliban. Remember, the Taliban is actually not a homogenous group. And the statement, as far as such things go, was fairly reasonable, which is that they would not trust these documents; they would use their own intelligence organization's investigations to understand whether those people were defectors or collaborators, and if so, after their investigations, then they would receive appropriate punishment. Now, of course, that is — you know, that image is disturbing, but that is what happens in war, that spies or traitors are investigated."


>but that's simply not what he is being charged with.

I didn't say that it was.

>But again, that doesn't change that they should've done more to redact them.

Correct. I don't believe that they actually have been more careful subsequently, but it's irrelevant in any case.

I'm not sure if that's your point but the US clearly have not mended their ways and continually violate international human rights by killing, torturing and illegally detaining people.

You can release that information and still redact the names of private individuals that are informants/spies so that you aren't signing their gruesome death sentence at the hands of the 'enemy'...

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