WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. The Ecuadorian government granted the WikiLeaks founder asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case which was eventually dropped.
He was arrested by London police and immediately found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.
Assange is a controversial figure. Some view him as a hero who is exposing government lies and deceptions, while others accuse him of being a traitor.
He is in danger of being extradited to the United States for charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for helping former U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning (formerly
Bradley Manning) to hack into computers of the defense department in 2010.
Chelsea Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and served seven years in prison after the intelligence officer leaked thousands of classified documents revealing information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange and Manning were trying to prove that the U.S committed war crimes in the two countries.
The founder of WikiLeaks also made news in 2016 for releasing hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign that he allegedly received from Russian officials.
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) support him. They voiced their displeasure about his arrest in a statement: “Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for
WikiLeaks publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of the other news organizations.”
The statement continued: “Prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.”
There are those on the libertarian wing of the Republican party who support him, as well. In fact, Assange is a big fan of theirs.
He endorsed the libertarian side of the party when he said: “The Republican Party, in so far as how it has coupled together with the war industry, is not a conservative party at all, and the libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice in the U.S. Congress.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano called him a “hero.” The judge said, “I have to tell you, in my opinion, Julian Assange is a hero. What he published was truthful information that the American public and the world had the right to see.”
Then there is the other side of the Assange debate. There are many who believe Assange is a villain who should be prosecuted for his actions. They argue that national security is threatened by people like Assange and proven leaker, Edward Snowden.
One of the proponents of this view is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Appearing on Fox News this morning, Gingrich expressed his opposition to Assange on national security grounds by saying, “If you violate our secrets, if you endanger our national security, if you put the country at risk, we’re going to come after you until we get you.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not a supporter of Assange, either. Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of supporting dictators: “While Assange and his ilk claim they act in the name of liberty and privacy, in reality their mission is personal aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.”
The debate over Assange isn’t black and white. On the one hand, it is good to have information about the government spying on its citizens and breaking the law. However, obtaining these secrets walks a dangerous line. There are reasons why governments have to keep secrets. If they don’t, our enemies could use them to do harm to us.
In a perfect world, we would trust the government to only keep secrets about bad actors and to follow the law. However, there is no such thing as a benevolent government. It is also not fair to the people who had their private information released to the public by WikiLeaks. Their privacy and safety were put in jeopardy.
There are good arguments on both sides of the issue. It is up to you to make up your own mind.
Where do you stand? Let us know in the comment section below.