WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s greatest fears have come true.
Arrested in London outside the Ecuadorian embassy yesterday, the US is now seeking to extradite him. The initial charges could see him spend five years behind bars.
But legal experts say more charges are likely, some carrying much heavier penalties.
US President Donald Trump has conveniently forgotten his former affection for Assange’s WikiLeaks. On the campaign trail in 2016 Trump said, ‘I love WikiLeaks,’ after the organisation published emails damaging rival Hillary Clinton. Yesterday Trump said, ‘I know nothing about WikiLeaks…I don’t have an opinion.’
In Australia, Assange’s home country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promptly washed his hands of all responsibility for Assange’s fate — leaving him to face the music like any other Aussie caught in rough waters overseas.
It seems the government is turning their backs on the freedom of speech they so proudly reserve, throwing him to the mercy of the courts.
Let your eyes glaze over this article, by all means. But this is exactly what Assange warned us of back in 2010. And watching him emerge from the Ecuadorian embassy yesterday, withered and looking years beyond his age, we are at the starting gate for where freedom of speech comes to die.
Free report: Australia’s right to free speech is under attack! Discover how a select group of Australians want to stifle your fundamental right to speak your mind — and what you can do to help turn the tide.
Morrison has no mercy for lawbreakers of any kind
If the Australian government truly believes in the freedom of speech and truth, this is a fight they should be standing up for.
Not, rather, looping Mr Assange in with every other terrorist or lawbreaker that commits crimes off Australian soil. He is merely receiving the same, standard consular assistance every citizen is entitled to.
‘When Australians travel overseas and find themselves in difficulty with the law, they face the judicial systems of those countries,’ Mr Morrison told the ABC.
‘It doesn’t matter what crime they are alleged to have committed.’
Similarly, Theresa May, pushed under the thumb of the US, said ‘In the United Kingdom, no-one is above the law’.
Mr Assange was forcibly removed from the embassy yesterday after several years of asylum. Almost immediately, he was taken to a London court, where he was found guilty of breaching his UK bail in 2012, AAP reports.
And with no intervention from the Coalition, what comes next will be morbid — the beginning of an outlay of charges, including conspiring to commit computer intrusion with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
While the sexual assault charges have since been dropped, Assange could see an initial 12-month imprisonment for his actions — the biggest ever leak of classified information in US history.
‘An Australian citizen … faces years, potentially decades or life in prison for having published material that the Walkley Awards gave him the most outstanding contribution to Australian journalism for,’ Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said on Friday.
‘The Australian Government ought to be defending its citizen and asking the US to stop this.’
Morrison continues to argue that ‘It’s got nothing to do with us’. But, in fact, it has everything to do with us.
This will change news reporting forever
Journalists and media organisations alike, be warned.
We are at the starting gate of something sinister, and it all began to snowfall when the British police were invited in to arrest.
For when Julian Assange is charged, it will ricochet across the world — brandishing to the world that freedom of speech is not only dead, but it never existed in the first place. There will always be consequences.
And that if you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep quiet and comply — just like the so-called leaders of the free world tell you to.
Free Report: Australia’s right to free speech is under attack! Discover how a select group of Australians want to stifle your fundamental right to speak your mind — and what you can do help turn the tide. Download now.