Post Mortem

Julian Assange: An icon of transparency or an enemy of the state?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/13/2019 12:21:54 PM IST

 47-year old Australian born Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006, published secret official information including thousands of diplomatic cables which made him an icon for many and for some an enemy of the state. The publicized information and thousands of diplomatic cables shook the world’s national security establishments with the classified information leaks which has totally transformed the political templates and as a consequence changed the course of history particularly of the US presidential election through disclosures of Hillary Clinton emails. In view of this Assange was taken into custody from the Ecuadorian embassy in London on the 11th of April, 2019. 

Nonetheless, Assange has been offered asylum by the Ecuador’s embassy in June 2012 and has been living till the ambassador of Ecuador revoked his asylum status by inviting Scotland Yard inside. Assange known for his daringness and courage who eventually became a symbol of transparency as the whistle blowing website exposed government secrets across the world. Right across the world people were dismayed and dumbfounded as they read the contents of the classified information—so revealing and mind blowing. 

The contents were explosive that go beyond ordinary comprehension—tortures, human rights violations, clandestine military operations with the release of 5, 00,000 US documents on the Iraq and Afghan wars. 

Since he had all the information of what’s happening around the world Assange with confidence showed to the people of the world and what’s happening in the power-centers of the world. The American state was totally rattled when the report came in 2010 showing a US military Apache helicopter firing on and killing two journalists and several Iraqi civilians on Baghdad street in 2007. It was followed by more than 90,000 classified American military files from the Afghanistan war; 4,00,000  from Iraq, and in November that year around 2, 50,000 US diplomatic cables covering almost every country in the world.

He was arrested in Britain in December 2010 and a judge ordered his extradition to Sweden, though the claims were dropped, but had to face the arrest warrant for having disregarded the bail. Ecuador’s then President, Rafael Correa, said Assange’s human rights could be at risk and offered him refuge, but his successor Lenin Moreno who took office in 2017 decided to revoke the asylum status of Assange by saying that he has been interfering in foreign affairs and backed out. The very purpose of WikiLeaks was to expose who ignored the rule of law, but the rogue state fails to follow the law, then who should intervene and who should expose? 

Instead of arresting the messenger, what are the messages that the messenger has brought to the fore? This should be the center of the whole episode. Reacting to the arrest of Assange, US whistleblower Edward Snowden said that the arrest of Julian Assange a “dark moment for press freedom.”  Snowden fled to Russia in 2013 after leaking classified document to the media about the US’ extensive surveillance activities and granted asylum in Russia. Julian Assange is indeed an icon who fearlessly and daringly published the classified items that rips open the horrendous side of the rogue state. The nation-states are supposed to protect its citizens and play more responsible roles when it comes to comity of nations and the protection of rights of the citizens. The leaks and cables show horrendous materials that carries news of killings and tortures and many forms of human right violations. The state would look at them as “traitors of the state” and punish them severely under the law of sedition. While on the other, people like Assange are the ones who openly brings to the fore the nefarious designs of the rogue states.  

The ruling cliché would like to retain power and unleash power against those who wants challenge them. The brute power can be seen when the state becomes brute. The WikiLeaks thus exposed the nature and character of the state. Julian Assange is indeed an icon who stood for transparency, truth and higher levels of morality. The world is still bit human because of these daring journalists and whistleblowers, despite all hardships are prepared to face the brunt. Arrest of Julian Assange is certainly a blot on the freedom to press, transparency and information. The struggle goes on and the brute state will have to be exposed by all means.  

Dr. I. John Mohan Razu, 

Professor of Social Ethics, Consultant and Research 

Fellow, ACTS Academy of Higher Education, Bangalore

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