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Julian Assange should be freed

By Peter Bowden - posted Friday, 24 December 2021

The appeal by the US government to extradite Julian Assange to the United States bewilders this writer. Even that the US should seek to extradite Julian Assange for the crime of WikiLeaks' publication of secret US military documents a decade ago is equally bewildering. For the opinion of this writer is that Assange has done no wrong. That he has in fact revealed information that we, the general public, have every right to know, He should be freed.

Even President Biden's administration plans to continue to seek to extradite the WikiLeaks founder.

And yet the Australian government has consistently refused to support him.


The UK court of appeal is equally confusing. Lord Burnett of Maldon, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and Lord Justice Holroyde ruled that the lower court ought to have afforded the US "the opportunity to offer assurances" about Assange's treatment. The judges accepted that the assurances now provided-by a state which, they were told in the appeal hearing, plotted Assange's "assassination, kidnap, rendering poisoning"-were "sufficient to meet the concerns" about his well-being. It ordered that Assange be extradited.

The inspiration for Assange's revelations through Wikileaks was Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated that the Johnson Administration had "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress." Ellsberg is now regarded as a hero. Assange should equally get the same regard.

What did Julian Assange do that such powerful countries want him condemned ? For he is not guilty of any crime. Guilty only of exposing wrongdoings that we, the general public, had the full right to know.

WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. This article asserts that these leaks provided information that we, the thinking public, should know. The leaks were:

The Baghdad airstrike video (April 2010), Chelsea Manning, testified in 2013 that the video was not classified, It showed attacks by two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters in Baghdad during the Iraqi insurgency. Seven men were killed during this strike, including two Reuters correspondents, one of whom died later in a hospital. The attack was completely unprovoked.

The Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), were 91,000 Afghan War documents, covering the period between January 2004 and December 2009. Most of the documents were classified secret. Prior to releasing the initial 75,000 documents, WikiLeaks made the logs available to The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel which published the reports. Der Spiegel wrote that "the editors in chief of Spiegel, The New York Times and The Guardian were 'unanimous in their belief that there is a justified public interest in the material. Many thousands of U.S. soldiers had access to this material and some of them had been able to download copies. WikiLeaks had one copy which it published online,


The Iraq war logs (October 2010), record 66,081 civilian deaths out of 109,000 recorded deaths.The leak resulted in the Iraq Body Count project adding 15,000 civilian deaths, bringing their total to over 150,000, with roughly 80% of those being civilians. It is the biggest leak in the military history of the United States, The UN's chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, stated that "if the files released through WikiLeaks pointed to clear violations of the United Nations Convention Against Torture the Obama administration had an obligation to investigate them" He called "for a wider inquiry to include alleged US abuses.

Cablegate(November 2010). Classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by the 274 US diplomatic missions around the world. Dated between 1966 and 2010, the cables contain diplomatic analyses on world leaders, and the diplomats' assessment of host countries and their officials. On 30 July 2013, Chelsea Manning was convicted for theft of the cables and violations of the Espionage Act in a court-martial proceeding and sentenced to thirty-five years imprisonment. She was released on 17 May 2017, after seven years confinement, commuted by President Barack Obama earlier that year.

After the leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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