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Ask HN: Have We Abandoned Julian Assange?
69 points by peter_retief on Nov 18, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments
The most influential journalist ever, his reputation smeared and possibly being slowly murdered.

It's what John Milton wrote about in Paradise Lost: To serve in Heaven or to rule in Hell. Milton backed the republicans during the English revolution, and saw his beloved revolution be usurped by the Cornwall dictatorship, and ultimately the restoration of the British monarchy. He had to flee for his life and was effectively banned from all public life. Whereas he used to serve in prestiges jobs, at the end of his life he was marginalised, broke and blind. Survivorship-bias gives a wrong impressions of rebels, most end on the outskirts of society. Milton dictated the verses of Paradise Lost to a scribe, as he put it, to justify the ways of God to Men. Substitute an all-powerful God for an all-powerful government, and it get a hole new meaning. IMHO it's still one of the best poems in the English language. There is a wise lesson here, I don't like it, but I can't say it's not true.

Thanks for the excellent reply. I plan to read Paradise Lost now, I failed at a previous attempt.

The answer to the question is unfortunately yes. What I dreamt in 2010 is coming true, just in a much different way. I actually dreamed that Assange was executed by lethal injection. It's still happening all be it much slower.

I think Wikileaks were a novel concept, but they needed to remain ideologically pure to remain viable. Unless all the evidence of conspiracy is manufactured, the organization become political.

> evidence of conspiracy is manufactured

What evidence? Of conspiracy to do what?

is this evidence of conspiracy to get Sanders elected?

Lol, most people think it goes in the opposite direction.

I would say it is conspiring against Clinton at the least, and conspiring for Trump at worst. The main point is that they involved themselves directly in politics. They weren't just being an outlet for leaked information, they timed their releases for effect and coordinated with others (ex. Stone) to help amplify that effect.

It certainly does seem that he had a lot of fair-weather friends who only liked him when he was pissing on one side of politics, but not the other.

Yeah, I'd agree 100% with this.

Sadly, it's not unique to Assange. It's a problem with a lot of society, with politics, etc.

No one seems to have the moral integrity to treat their side and the others equally, and to stand up for those who do the same. If they did, Assange may not be in jail, or awaiting possible extradition to the US.

> The most influential journalist ever, his reputation smeared and possibly being slowly murdered.

Journalists don't edit source material to fit their narrative. I long ago lost faith in Assange when he released edited footage of journalists being shot by a US military helicoptor with an edited audio track. The video with the original audio was damning enough, editing the video prior to release was the beginning of the end for Assange in my eyes. Since then rather than releasing any and all information Julian started to "curate" what was released. It's one of the many reasons many of the original members of wikileaks left the organization.

I think perhaps it's a stretch to say he's the most influential journalist ever here.

He's a divisive character and seems to have been a divisive character amongst those that knew and interacted with him, as well as the general public.

What's happened to him was all too predictable. The US was offended by him, so one way or another they were going to get their hands on him. They tried all the usual tricks - deny it, get their allies to do their dirty work while also denying it. And now they have him. I expect him to turn up dead or otherwise just disappear.

> most influential journalist ever here.

The narrative is that Assange put Trump into the world's most powerful office. The only parallel in history is Nixon's resignation. He may not be #1 but , if we are to believe the narrative, he's #2 (pun not intented)

Or we can conclude that he did not put trump in office. <insert tough decision meme here>

He's far less divisive than the current POTUS. So what has divisive got to do with it? In any case , it's not him that is divisive so much as all those who are employed to smear him.

Who is more influential?

That's an extremely generous description. For one, he's not really a journalist. All he does is publish leaked information. In that regard, he's not unique at all nor has he published more quantity or quality than MSM sources. James Risen on the NY Times broke the mass surveillance story. Sy Hersh of the New Yorker broker My Lai and Abu Ghraib. Glenn Greenwald published the Snowden leaks. Assange is best known for Cablegate where he actually mishandled that info. He's also best known for the DNC email leaks which we now have evidence on the record showing that he coordinated this leak with Roger Stone at the behest of the Trump campaign and probably received the info from professional Russian hackers. He has absolutely debased himself. And he's been far less influential than he believes himself to be.

> we now have evidence on the record showing that he coordinated this leak with Roger Stone at the behest of the Trump campaign.... He has absolutely debased himself.

I dont understand this view. So the logic being presented is if a journalist (or other) is presenting information of public interest, but it comes from a source that has a political (or other) motivation behind it they should then bury the story?

I would understand this view if Assange also received information critical of the Trumps/Russia and refused to publicise it, but what was his alternative?

> he's not really a journalist

Then what is he? His format and method are different but essentially he is broadcasting news.

The source of his information was a deliberately malicious government agency. The release was coordinated to cover up the news cycle of the Access Hollywood tape. That means he is suborning espionage and he sat on it until it helped Donald Trump. And he lied about it repeatedly.

He had also promised a trove of leaks about Russia in the past that never materialized.

Three types of people in the world: those who expose the truth, those who cover up the truth, and those who remain blissfully ignorant of the truth. It's been a blow to our freedom that Julian Assange was betrayed, as Wikileaks could've let us know exactly what we needed to know for 2020, but... refer to #2 of the three types of people in the world, and #3 for those who vote based on knowing only what they want to know.

My personal theory is that Assange is just a too big a rebel. He is too radical, so radical, that we cannot understand him, he is out of Overton window. Perhaps to the point of being a hypocrite, by necessity.

Compare him with Edward Snowden. Snowden has moderate opinions compared to Assange. With that, he is much more readable than Assange by general public, and so he is better shielded.

This has nothing to do with what they did.

And both of them stood up to power and paid price for it.

It doesn't matter who they are and what kind of ice-cream flavor they like.

This kind of thinking is exactly what state propaganda pushes. Create smear campaign then shift the discourse to talking about the whistle blowers and not about the actual whistle blowing.

Notice how often 'Assange is rapist' and 'Snowden is a russian spy' narrative are almost all that ever comes up on media coverage. Or the talk about leaks is derailed by someone to those points.

I agree, it has to do with their opinions rather than deeds. Just FYI - I don't believe either is Russian agent and I do believe they both are fundamentally right (in the sense of moral values rather than correctness). I was just answering the question in the title, I wasn't saying that to diss on them.

But they are different characters. Assange is much more revolutionary at heart than Snowden (in the Cyberspace Manifesto sense). And it hurts him more, in my opinion, because the society is not ready (if it's ever gonna be).

On the other hand, Snowden's opinions are pretty moderate. He doesn't want a revolutionary society where all information wants to be free. He just wants a better oversight of secret services. So he's more relatable as a result.

>He is too radical, so radical, that we cannot understand him, he is out of Overton window.

My introduction to wikileaks was when it was first covered on slashdot, before any leaks with any relevancy to me. At that time the stated mission statement was to publish all of the leaked documents after authenticating them in an effort to subject secret actions of government to more scrutiny. And make those in government more cautions about what they'll do even with the cover of secrecy. It was created by people from the anglosphere, therefore the US was always going to be a large part of their focus. No matter how much more deserving of criticism other countries may be.

With that as a throughline (and even back then Assange had a bit of reputation as a wanker), I've never been _that_ surprised with the way the project has acted over the years. If my only exposure to Assange was the coverage whenever he made the news, I would find the whole thing impenetrable. It's one of the things that first made me start seeing how poorly thrown together news narratives really are.

> he is better shielded

He's shielded by russia. Were he in any other country he'd be in a US cell alone. Funny how one has to hide in Russia to preach encryption!

It was the US that put him in that place. He was grounded at Moscow Airport while trying to transfer to another plane because his passport was invalidated midflight.

Is the truth radical?

Yes to those deep in denial, tied up in a million cognitive traps and logical fallacies, wedded to ideologies and so deeply invested in something other than truth and or Truth.

Does he represent the truth?

yes. did he publish lies?

publishing only one side of the story is a lie, or do you think Russian intelligence asked him to be fully honest?

> publishing only one side of the story is a lie

while biased, it's not in itself a lie

Lying by omission is certainly a thing. Selective publishing is similar and while not technically a lie, is dishonest. I think you'd have to be naive to trust wikileaks is impartial.

there's a confusion of terms here. "Lying by omission" is possible if the source claims something and uses half the truth to support it. Assange didn't claim anything, he just released some facts X. The fact that he did not release stuff about the other side (which supposedly exists?) is totally irrelevant to the validity of facts X.

> naive to trust wikileaks is impartial.

Also irrelevant. Nobody should be imprisoned for being partial!

Dude he's not a good guy. If he was being fair, he would expose China and Russia too. But he was just leaking US secrets. They never expose China or Russia because they know what will happen in very short notice. The US is the only one of the 3 that has a true due process.

Thats a very hard indictment against him, opinionated and wrong

except it is accurate and researched by some of the best investigators in the world, so there's that

an opinion is always accurate but never objective , by definition

The amount of grey comments in this post (most of which are in support of Assange) is pretty impressive. Good job Crazyhorses!

Pre-2016 Assange, or after 2016 Assange?

which one deserves to rot in prison forever?

Yes, And Good Riddance

not all of us agree

Julian Assange has offered humanity a lot more than what humanity can offer him at anytime. I wonder why the hell would someone get jailed for revealing the truth.

So very true and so to the point. He did not only get jailed. He got put in a solitary cell in a high security jail.. And mentally tortured. And almost nobody cares..

No one cares because there was maliciously fake news about how he's a bad house guest and didn't scoop his cat's poop and two women in Sweden wanted to contact him to tell him to take an STD test and then the police took it upon themselves to want to question him (not even charge him) about sexual assault.

Assange is going to get Epstein'd

i know you 're joking but to be clear (and because apparently there are a lot of misconceptions abotu the cases) he hasn't been charged with anything like rape and the allegations are about nonconsensual removal or condom, outlined in detail here: https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/4/12/18306901/julian-ass...

I used "sexual assault" because that's the term he's likely be alleged of doing in the US, whereas in Sweden the official term is "rape" for all/most sexual assault cases. Or so I've heard. Sexual assault I think is an appropriate term here, though I think the allegations are pretty thin, contradictory, and suspicious. Swedish officials didn't seem to care much or at all about making progress on this, since they refused to question/interview Assange remotely despite him claiming asylum. They seemed to care more about getting him in custody - a fear that's since been justified by England trying to extradite him.

actually it seems in both cases they consented to sex, despite disagreeing about the condom

Why is no one asking that question?

It seems like it, but how much power do we have to help?

Start by being brave enough to display youir support publicly. It's not like we don't have the power. It's that we are not trying anything at all.

I feel so sad and powerless, what can we do against these forces of disinformation?

start with informing yourself. think and open your mind. write emails, letters, petitions. question your politicians, colleagues, yourself. leave traces of your opinion everywhere. Every one step is a step, however small. Good luck. At least you're not indifferent.

it's not disinformation when a handful of countries all agree he's a criminal and a fugitive

i don't know why you feel like expending heatfelt energy protecting a russian intelligence asset

is this a glowpost?

he s dangerous to the world and needs to be locked up because reasons until trump is out of office. That's what people are supposed to think.

Its important to hold politicians accountable, however is in office.

We mostly don't care about either people or justice in this world. There's so much prosaic callousness and awfulness that people simply don't even bother to notice. It really shouldn't come as some kind of surprise that people are mostly "fair weather friends" and you can assume they won't have your back when the chips are down.

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