Creator of WikiLeaks and main editor / activist in its early years.
On his treatment by other media (he'd previously worked with), ChrisHedges writes : (https://chrishedges.substack.com/p/journalists-abandoned-julian-assange)
Julian went from being a journalistic colleague to a pariah as soon as the information he provided to these news organizations was published. He endured, in the words of Nils Melzer, at the time the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, “a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation.” These attacks included “collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”
Julian was branded a hacker, although all the information he published was leaked to him by others. He was smeared as a sexual predator and a Russian spy, called a narcissist and accused of being unhygienic and slovenly. The ceaseless character assassination, amplified by a hostile media, saw him abandoned by many who had regarded him a hero.
“Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide,” Melzer concluded.
What was KeirStarmer's role?
The UK Home Secretary, PritiPatel has now agreed to hand Assange over to the US.
This is a disgrace and an injustice. Sadly I didn't have expected anything better of Patel and my low opinion of her has been confirmed in this as in most things.
GlennGreenwald has a good overview of the current situation
After Ecuadorian Embassy
After he was kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy (see below) the UK government put him in prison for a year for skipping bail.
That was, strictly, legal and within its rights. Though putting Assange in the harshest jail was undoubtedly vindictive.
Since then the US has demanded his extradition on the grounds of "helping" ChelseaManning with her leaks. The issue is that the "help" (while described as "hacking") was what any newspaper or journalist would need to do to support Whistleblowers. To criminalize this is to criminalize any kind of investigative journalism that can reveal the wrongdoings of power.
Even TheGuardian (which is a great disappointment in 2020) has to agree : https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/21/extradition-julian-assange-wikileaks-democracy-not-criminal
A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder.
It was also revealed that the MikePompeo of the DonaldTrump government had discussed ways to kidnap Assange from the embassy or assassinate him.
This ought to have been enough for the UK to accept that Assange's life was in danger from being sent to the US.
Claimed asylum from and confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after allegations of rape and other sexual crimes in Sweden.
At the time, this was my perspective : these crimes are serious and should be addressed. Assange has a case to answer.
However, because of his extraordinary, unique situation, we simply can't trust any Western or Western allied government with handling his confinement or dispensing justice. Assange is so hated by, and troublesome for, the networks of power in Western society that we must suspect that they will use whatever opportunity is available, to silence and punish him.
And so Assange must be protected.
But while we continue to admire and support him, we don't need to try to brush off or diminish the accusations themselves.
The more we know, the more we know that Assange's fears were justified.
CraigMurray has some good background on how the establishment functions, which throws light on the Swedish accusations against Assange :
Quora Answer : Are Wikileaks, Assange necessary evil or absolute essential? (April 2019)
Not at all evil.
And not "absolutely essential".
But he has been very useful. And he is an important signpost of how to do this.
The danger is that people think "oh, we don't need Assange, anyone can do leaks like that, and our newspapers will do it more responsibly than he does".
That's missing the point. When Assange came on the scene. After 9/11 and the beginning of Bush's War on Terror, the mainstream media were a puppy, trotting along behind the American war machine. Even the "liberal" New York Times was publishing support for Bush's invasion of Iraq.
Meanwhile, TV news reporters only went to Iraq "embedded" with, and under the careful eye of the US military.
People in mainstream media who spoke out against the war-fever in the US were quickly shut down. And while the further left zines and blogs were happy to rail against the war, they were considered fringe.
Assange's leaks FORCED mainstream American media and the American people to take the story of America's bad behaviour in Iraq seriously. He got the story that the professional reporters in Iraq couldn't get.
He got stories about US diplomatic manoeuvring in the run-up to the war, that reporters in the US couldn't get.
He pioneered the channels and techniques for helping whistleblowers get the message out. He showed people how the new technology could be used. He protected his leakers with state of the art techniques. (Chelsea Manning was ultimately discovered because she confessed to someone she trusted not to betray her. Assange did what he could to protect her.)
Assange showed people how you could get the public to take notice of a story by drip-feeding juicy fragments. By threatening to feed more. By a certain amount of "showmanship". He even worked WITH the mainstream media, collaborating with them to redact the things that needed redacting, spreading the releases around between papers in different countries to make it harder for governments in any one country to shut down the story.
Wikileaks pioneered the way. And then, sure, other mainstream media remembered what they were supposed to be doing, and started copying Assange's techniques : creating safe channels for whistleblowers to get in touch. Collaborating between media in different countries. Highlighting a string of focused stories.
We had some very useful leaks since then. Edward Snowden. The Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.
Most of the success of these leaks has followed the Assange game-plan. Collaboration between newspapers in different countries. And many of them, particularly Snowden, came from people who had worked with and learned from Assange.
But we'll see whether that continues without Assange being there as competition, to goad / challenge them to do better.
Look, I'm a Guardian reader. I even subscribe / make a yearly donation to support them. I like their writers very much.
If you want me to give a reference for who you should go on a date with, I will give any Guardian writer you can think of a far more glowing reference and a far higher recommendation than I'd give to Julian Assange. No question these are nicer people. With politer manners and who will make better house guests.
But ... if you want someone bloody-minded, fanatical about holding power to account and obsessively dedicated to making a working leak culture happen. Someone who can devise tools and strategies and processes that are fit for the fight of taking on governments armed with phenomenal IT capabilities in the 21st century. You want a Nietzschean "superman" who through sheer force of will and reckless bravery turns a "cool idea" into something that genuinely threatens the bad politicians and gives real power back to the people? Someone who "gets stuff done"? Then I'd bet on Assange. And other outlaws in his mould.
So absolutely essential? No.
But we need people LIKE him. People with his courage and determination and, even, sensibly paranoid instincts of self-preservation. If we're to stand a chance in this fight.
Quora Answer : Is it fair to say that, in general, the "left" is more sympathetic to WikiLeaks than the "right"? What evidence supports this view?
I think Assange is quite an interesting and unusual figure. He's a libertarian without being particularly right or left wing.
He's against governments, believes in markets and individuals following their consciences. He's nuanced enough that he knows that corporates can be abusive but he advocates an individual freedom oriented solution : namely whistleblowing. He does accept that the result of whistleblowing might be to bring down government censure, but hopes this will help the morally "good" entrepreneurs beat the bad ones.
Quora Answer : Why did WikiLeaks offer a job to James Damore immediately, after being fired from Google?
This is the same WikiLeaks whose founder is an accused rapist who has spent over 5 years in a legal battle to avoid facing charges in court?
Look. I admire Julian Assange. I support WikiLeaks and Assange himself. I think he's a good thing for the world; fully worthy of our support and thanks. I've given WikiLeaks money. And may well do so again.
But frankly, I wouldn't trust Assange to have an unbiased or sound opinion on sexual politics or sexism in the work-place.
Quora Answer : How do Britons feel about Julian Assange, and his recent arrest? Is he considered a criminal or folk hero?
Julian Assange is indeed a hero.
And more importantly, he is smarter, wiser about the the world and more courageous than those who try to tear him down.
Even today, when everything that Assange told us turns out to be true, people are still trying to pretend that he claimed asylum to avoid facing rape charges in Sweden.
Because Julian Assange is "a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests."
Assange told us 7 years ago that the US was working on a case against him in secret.
The chumps failed to believe him and blathered on about his personal failings.
Then it was accidentally revealed last year that there was indeed a secret case being drawn up against him.
Did his detractors recalibrate and ask whether there might be something to Assange's claim?
No. Their minds were made up.
Then at the beginning of the year, the US tried to pull Chelsea Manning in, to turn evidence against Assange.
When she bravely refused, they put her back in prison and in the solitary confinement that had almost driven her to suicide previously.
Did any of Assange's critics join the dots?
Of course not.
Ecuador now has a right-wing president who has been making nice with Donald Trump. We've been feeling the fore-shocks of the rupture between Assange and Ecuador for a while now.
It's painful and depressing to see him dragged out of the embassy, sold down river by a country that promised to protect him, and handed over to a gloating and craven British state.
But not surprising.
What else would you predict? The UK government having thrown itself off the Brexit cliff is desperate for Donald Trump's approval. The government is run by moral bankrupts.
When Assange claimed asylum, the US was already known for having engaged in torture in Abu Ghraib. And having written itself the legal right to do so. It was holding people indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay. (It still is). It was engaged in extraordinary rendition, kidnapping people and sending them to black sites to be interrogated by unscrupulous allies. It was murdering civilian journalists by drone. (Later it would move on to murdering US citizens by drone.)
However bad Assange's personal behaviour, nothing morally obliges him to hand himself over to that entity, which is hell-bent on revenge for Wikileaks revealing its crimes.
In fact, anyone who paid attention would note various legal manoeuvrings against Assange before he claimed asylum. Assange knew damned well the way the wind was blowing.
He avoided going to Sweden, NOT because he didn't want to face justice. But because he knew that, as long as the Swedish case was outstanding, it had priority in extradition requests. Put bluntly, the UK couldn't legally extradite Assange to the US, because if it got its hands on him, it would have to extradite him to Sweden first.
Of course, what the Swedes might do was another matter. But at least it was a delay. Another road-block to obstruct and slow down America's vengeance. Between that and the asylum claim, at least he bought himself another 7 years outside of an American jail.
But still, the wilfully obtuse continue to parrot that somehow it's all about that horrible immature man who RAPES and his refusal to face up to his actions.
tl;dr : Any reasonably perceptive and well intentioned Briton should recognise Assange as a (flawed) hero.
Quora Answer : What terrible influences do you think will be caused by the arrest of Julian Assange?
Right now the US (and a bunch of other countries) are committing heinous crimes in war zones around the world. Are robbing their people blind and stashing the money in tax havens. Are concocting new surveillance programs that will eliminate your privacy. Are cheating in elections. Etc.
And you will never know. And nobody will ever hold them to account.
THAT is going to be the terrible effect of Assange being arrested. And Wikileaks being destroyed.
Because the next guy who was going to help support whistleblowers to expose those crimes is going to look at the way Assange was reviled and treated and just going to say "Nah ... not worth it"
Think of it this way. If Assange had gone quietly to prison as people seem to want him to have done in 2012, it's not clear that we'd have the Snowden revelations. And you'd still be happily letting your computer stream your private life to the NSA.
Quora Answer : Is the UK judge's decision to not extradite Julian Assange to the US good news for the cause he stands for?
It's good that the judge decided not to extradite Assange.
And it was perfectly valid in itself to do so on compassionate grounds that the US was preparing a very harsh punishment for someone who is likely to be too fragile to take it.
Nevertheless, it's a terrible legal decision, because it doesn't at all address the main issues.
Assange is being punished because the US is infuriated that he published leaked documents that made them look bad.
But Assange is not an American citizen. He was not resident in the US at the time. He owes no loyalty to the US. Neither the US, nor any other country, should have the right to imprison citizens / residents of other countries simply for publishing things that embarrass them.
Of course, even the US knows that it doesn't have a legal case to punish Assange for publishing. So it's trumped up some other charges of "spying" and "computer hacking" that, at most, in practice, amount to the equivalent of Assange telling Manning how to use encryption and asking if she had any more documents.
This is a horrific attack on the notion of free speech and freedom of the press. It's the biggest attack on a free press or media in living memory.
And the judge just let that pass, without laying down any precedent to say that it was illegitimate.