Assange: he must be protected, whether he is a hero or a villain

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The fate of the founder of WikiLeaks has sparked divided opinions, but for all its protection should be a priority

Assange: he must be protected, whether he is a hero or a villain

The stay of the founder of WikiLeaks in the Ecuadorian embassy in London came to an abrupt end last week, when the president of Ecuador Lenin Moreno revoked his citizenship and forced him to leave. As expected, Julian Assange fell immediately into the hands of the authorities. For the United Kingdom, and particularly for its American allies, Assange is an enemy, a corporal who cannot be left alone.

Leer en español: Assange: sea héroe o villano, se le debe proteger

Assange faces a trial in the United States, on charges of conspiracy against the government because of the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified documents of the US government. He won the wrath of the White House by making public audio-visual material in which US soldiers murdered Iraqi civilians from a military helicopter.

Those are the facts, but the interpretations vary. For his defenders, his arrest and persecution imply a frontal attack to the freedom of press and his publications were a necessary confrontation to a turbid and ruthless government. For his detractors, it is only natural to be captured and ajustice, his irresponsibility put at risk the State and the population that it should protect, their freedom is a continuous risk to the United States, the Americans and their allies.

How to impart justice?

Upon seeing him leave the Ecuadorian embassy, visibly aged, the tensions between those who see Assange as a hero and those who see him as a threat reached a critical point.

Those who see him as a hero argue that his imprisonment at the embassy was unfair from the start, that he should have been allowed a proper search for asylum and that last week, instead of capturing him, he should had have time granted to obtain that permission. Assange is after all, a champion of press freedom, winner of journalism awards such as Martha Gellhorn. He was also the winner of the Sam Adams Award in 2010, awarded by a committee of CIA exagents to intelligence professionals for his defense of ethics and integrity.

Government cannot imprison and punish someone for the same events that earned them these and many other awards, as well as the respect of an important sector of society that safeguards the right to information, freedom of the press and transparent government.

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Those who see him as a villain, on the other hand, will argue that he placed the national security of the United States, and of all those who inhabit them, at risk with his irresponsible handling of privileged and confidential information, which remained secret for the sake of integrity of a government whose responsibility is to protect its citizens. We will also remember the charges that he faced in Swedish courts for sexual harassment.

No one can be released because of his lack of discretion in the dissemination of confidential information, who put at risk the integrity of democratic states that invested with popular legitimacy ensure the safety of their population.

Priority number one: safety

On what both sides must agree, however, is that in this moment of tension, protecting the integrity of Julian Assange must be the most important. Regardless of whether they want to see him executed, or if they want to see him free, seeing him safe and sound is necessary.

It may be obvious why his acolytes want to see him safe, but his detractors also have strong reasons to do so. The government of the United States cannot confirm the suspicions raised by Assange himself,  a ruthless government that does not hesitate when killing civilians, by unleashing an excessive revenge against him.

Finally, they must understand that the future of leaks and of anarcohackers like Assange who are seeking to reveal the secret nature of States does not depend on Assange. There are hundreds like him, even inside WikiLeaks, who will continue in their struggle, and who will only be motivated to redouble their efforts if they see a martyr in Assange.

Whatever Assange's fortune is, it worries that the death penalty has been whispered from certain sectors of American politics. While the United Kingdom gave guarantees against this terrible outcome, the last word falls on the United States, which must account for the danger it faces if it does not do the same.


LatinAmerican Post | Editorial Team
Translated from "
Assange: sea héroe o villano, se le debe proteger "