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April 16, 2019

Assange Was Not Right

WikiLeaks founder is an anti-American lawbreaker and he should pay for his crimes.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest in England last week has set in motion what is sure to be a pitched legal battle. Assange has yet to answer for the public dissemination of classified U.S. documents dating back to 2010, documents that compromised U.S. security and diplomatic standing and potentially the lives of U.S soldiers and their allies in the field of battle.

The ongoing debate of whether Assange had the right to post sensitive documents on his website has been going on for the better part of a decade. Sadly, it is a wasted argument. Assange had no right to do so. These materials were stolen by former Army PFC Bradley Manning in a fit of anti-American pique. Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning after receiving a taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery while in jail, offered the materials to Assange for the express purposes of harming the U.S., and Assange gleefully went along.

Calling Assange a journalist or a publisher is a complete misnomer. He did not act like a responsible journalist. He did not vet the information he obtained, nor did he consider the potential harm his actions would cause — in fact, the potential harm is what motivated him. He knew that he could embarrass the United States and negatively impact its ability to defeat terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. What Assange did was nothing more than engage in a document dump of illegally obtained material. His motivations were not truth and justice, but fame and the chance to stick a finger in America’s eye.

Were Assange truly concerned about journalistic integrity, he would have carefully evaluated the documents he possessed and redacted information that could potentially harm individuals. This did not happen. Instead, he actually insisted on posting the material to the Web as-is, regardless of the consequences.

Assange is also erroneously considered to be an equal-opportunity offender — that is to say that the U.S. was not his sole target. There is nothing in the WikiLeaks document dumps to suggest this is true. The material Assange received and reflexively posted came largely from the U.S. and harms U.S. interests. In fact, if prosecutors want to nail anyone for Russian collusion, Julian Assange is their man.

Assange’s actions were openly supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it appears they may have supplied Assange with the information that threw the 2016 presidential election into a tailspin. Yet, so far all American prosecutors have accused Assange with at this point is a single count of hacking into government computer servers, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.

It’s a mystery as to why Assange has not been formally accused of more crimes, considering his co-conspirator Manning was convicted of multiple felony counts of espionage. Barack Obama saved Manning many years of jail time by commuting his sentence before leaving office, but he’s back in federal custody now that he has refused to testify before a grand jury on the Assange investigation.

Espionage charges carry an expiration date in some cases, and several of the acts Assange may be guilty of committing have lapsed. There is also concern that the case the U.S. currently has against Assange may not be air-tight. Proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law faces several challenges, not the least of which is the potential of compromising the integrity of Robert Mueller’s report on Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Although President Donald Trump has been cleared of any involvement, thus far the collusion claim still stands. If Assange should beat the case, Mueller’s findings would come under question, and Russia would be vindicated.

Speaking of vindication, Hillary Clinton took a victory lap at a recent New York City event. Clinton, forever on the lookout for someone to blame for her 2016 loss, believes that the negative press she received due to the WikiLeaks posting of emails from her campaign and the DNC cost her the election. If bad press alone were the reason for losing a presidential election, then how do you explain Donald Trump?

Assange will face an extradition hearing in the UK on May 2. Despite England being America’s closest ally, a favorable outcome that sends Assange to the U.S. to face trial is not assured. UK courts will have to determine whether Assange might face the death penalty for his crimes (he won’t), or if the U.S. has other charges in store for him. He will most assuredly fight the extradition, and the process could be dragged out in the courts for a long time.

Assange is also a wanted man in Sweden, and this could complicate matters as well. There have been several accusations of sexual assault and molestation against Assange by Swedish women. This was the reason he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the first place, claiming that the charges were part of a smear campaign against him.

One rape charge against Assange has already been dropped because time ran out, and the allegation currently against him expires next year.

If U.S. and Swedish prosecutors are not careful, Assange could slip through the grip of justice and walk away scot-free. That can’t be allowed to happen.

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