The DOJ Is Prosecuting Assange For Practicing Journalism, Not For “Working With Russia”

When I’ve talked in online threads about the recent warnings from numerous journalists, lawyers, and constitutional experts that prosecuting Julian Assange would set a dangerous precedent for the rights of whistleblowers, Assange’s opponents have usually responded by claiming that the U.S. isn’t trying to prosecute him for whistleblowing. Assange is a criminal, they say, because he worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Putting aside the continued lack of evidence that Assange got the DNC emails from Russia, or that Russia ever hacked into the DNC at all, information has come out which tells us that the government is indeed trying to convict Assange for nothing more than practicing journalism. After the revelation of a DOJ indictment being prepared against Assange, Elizabeth Lea Vos wrote this week in her piece Assange Prosecution Will Focus On Chelsea Manning Era Releases, Not DNC Emails:

Recent reports have indicated that formerly secret charges pending against Julian Assange will focus on material relating to Chelsea Manning and the earliest releases published by WikiLeaks. Alternatively, on WikiLeaks’ Vault7 releases in March 2017 or on the help he and his organisation gave to Edward Snowden to get the NSA whistleblower to safe asylum.

This latest news directly counters allegations published by Russiagate hysterics, who suggested the charges would relate to WikiLeaks’ 2016 publications of the DNC and John Podesta emails.

It also negates any doubt that the prosecution of Assange would mean the destruction of a free press. If Assange is prosecuted under this charge of publishing classified information, it would totally criminalize those who leak government secrets. Among the many statements from press freedom organizations that condemn the attempts to prosecute Assange under this pretense, the Committee to Protect Journalists recently stated: “we would be concerned by a prosecution that construes publishing government documents as a crime. This would set a dangerous precedent that could harm all journalists, whether inside or outside the United States.”

But none of this matters to the Trump administration’s DOJ, nor to the mainstream Democrats who support the effort to prosecute Assange. Assange is now enemy #1 of the political and media establishments, because he and WikiLeaks have vastly hurt the power of the U.S./NATO empire.

They’ve shown how the Iraq and Afghanistan wars-which were launched by both parties-involved numerous war crimes by the U.S. They’ve published Obama administration emails which show how that the U.S. has deliberately tried to destabilize Syria. They’ve revealed that Obama’s cabinet was directly put together by a Wall Street insider. They’ve indisputably confirmed that Saudi Arabia arms ISIS. They’ve revealed how the DNC rigged the primary against Bernie Sanders, and how the DNC and the Clinton campaign colluded with numerous media outlets as part of this effort. They’ve uncovered the CIA’s Orwellian surveillance practice of infiltrating household appliances. So the centers of power are doing all they can to persecute Assange, and to discredit any future things that WikiLeaks reveals.

By threatening to prosecute Assange, the U.S. and U.K. governments have forced him to stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for eight years, putting him through so far 2913 days of house arrest that have severely damaged his health. To get Assange to out of the embassy, the U.S. and Ecuador have imposed increasingly degrading and miserable conditions onto Assange with the hope that he’ll agree to leave.

To justify this undeniable persecution of Assange, the U.S. government and the Western media have spread lies about Assange and WikiLeaks. Despite the fact that WikiLeaks has never had to retract a single document in its twelve years of publishing, many pundits have spread rumors about WikiLeaks’ emails being “doctored.” Even though the “Russia DNC hack” claim has been thoroughly debunked, the standard media narrative continues to be that WikiLeaks has worked with Russia. The baseless media claim that WikiLeaks works for Trump has also been a powerful propaganda tool for getting well-intentioned liberals to turn against Assange.

And because defending ruling class narratives is the best way for a modern political commentator to get their career advanced, the DOJ’s focus on the Manning leaks no doubt won’t stop the mainstream media from continuing to attack Assange. “We can assume that in the coming days and months, establishment hacks will pivot and attack Assange just as loudly and abhorrently as they always have,” Vos predicts in her article. “Few of them will bother to remind their readers that the campaign emails of a political party are not US Government documents, are not classified Secret or Top Secret, and are therefore not going to be the subject of a federal prosecution in the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), where the jury pool is selected from a population with the highest concentration of US intelligence and defence industry employees in the United States.”

In short, Assange’s persecution isn’t going to get any pushback from the media figures who’ve aligned themselves with the circles of power. But there are still many human rights organizations, civil liberties groups, academics, activists, and dissident journalists who’ve shown support for Assange. And if we redouble our efforts to free Assange, we might be able to reverse the situation.