U.S. Wants to Make an Example of Julian Assange

Any day now, a British court is expected to rule on Julian Assange’s final appeal of an order that he be extradited to the United States. If he is sent to the U.S., he will face prosecution under the Espionage Act, a 1917 law enacted during World War I specifically to stifle and punish dissent during wartime. Assange could face as much as 175 years in prison. He has already spent more than 10 years more or less imprisoned, first in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and now in a U.K. prison. 

Assange came to be well known in 2010 when he and his organization, WikiLeaks, released hundreds of thousands of internal documents on the internet. These were documents from the United States and other governments about the prosecution of the U.S. invasions and occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan. WikiLeaks then released documents detailing U.S. surveillance of other world leaders and the corruption of some of those leaders. 

Assange provided the people of the world with a valuable service, exposing the violence and dishonest actions of the U.S. and other states in their ongoing competition with each other and in their efforts to mislead the people they rule. 

Assange’s persecution shows the lengths to which the U.S. state will go to silence and punish those who reveal state secrets. More than 10 years of unrelenting pressure have been put on Ecuador and now the U.K. to bring him to trial.

For all the talk about freedom of speech and democracy, the U.S. government is doing its best, under three different presidents, to stifle truth and hide accurate information. That’s what the Espionage Act was designed to do. In 1917, the Espionage Act was used to stifle radicals and critics of the U.S. involvement in World War I. Today it is being used to punish Assange for exposing the crimes of U.S. imperialism.

The goal of the U.S. government is to send a chill through society, to intimidate others who might want to reveal the horrors that the U.S. government carries out and supports, as Assange did.