There are some new developments over the past weeks in the almost-decade old case of Julian Assange.

He is the Australian revolutionary who disseminated secrets through his Wikileaks organization provided by Chelsea Manning that revealed American war crimes in Iraq.

Presently in U.K. custody, and likely to fight U.S. extradition, Assange has emerged to perhaps update a crucial test of freedom of the press. This test has been posed by the overreaction to the 9/11 national attack and the now domination of corporate global media.

In this environment, what space does hard-hitting investigative reporting hold?

The United States is likely to reach way back and employ the Espionage Act of 1917, along with the excesses of the Patriot Act, signed in October 2001 and cynically enhanced since. This strategy, targeting whistleblowers, was a feature of the Obama administration and has continued unabated by Donald Trump.

The U.S. will resist the idea of Assange as a journalist, and the eventual indictment will reveal much tradecraft in portraying him as otherwise. The U.S. was grievously hurt and deserved to be, by the spilling of bloody, murderous secrets by former Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning. But, Assange did nothing but what a good reporter would have done, including encouragement to disclose state secrets.

If I am correct, there are sedition laws still on the books that mock the First Amendment, as well the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. At a time when the constitutional idea of divided government is being challenged by an instinctual authoritarian, we need an empowered press and free speech protections more than ever.

The U.S. persecution of Assange will continue due to the overwhelming inclination toward punishment among those in power and their unwillingness to look at truth.

Remember, the charges against Daniel Ellsberg, in the Pentagon Papers prosecution, were early dismissed and he has since been lauded for his moral courage.

Richard Labdon


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