Can we talk the truth about Julian Assange and how he is still in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London? Today, I received a postcard from the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign which called for a march on the Royal Courts of Justice on the 23rd of October 2021.
Regardless of how you feel about the man, I challenge you to question how you feel about truth. I’m sure at some point in your life you have pleaded with someone for them to tell you the truth. We all prefer to be told the truth regardless of how it may impact our lives. Sure, little white lies can help you bypass awkward situations, and nobody is questioning the necessity to be able to have secrets. Everyone has a right to privacy, it’s even part of the UK’s human rights act. However, the government is not an individual person. They are a collection of people who are supposed to make decisions based on the interests of the public. As the public, we have a right to know what decisions are being made and why.
The right to respect for your family and private life, your home and your correspondence is one the rights protected by the Human Rights ActThe Human Rights Act 1998. Article 8
Truth during times of war
I’m not going to fall down the rabbit hole of whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were justified or even legal. If you want my opinion, then I don’t believe we should have gone to war. Katharine Gun, the GCHQ whistleblower proved the wars weren’t legal when she leaked the memo about the United States requesting compromising intelligence on diplomats in 2003 so that they could swing the decision in favor of war. However, the world is far too complicated for me to pretend I understand what was truly going on behind the scenes. I don’t even want to address the intelligence failure behind the so-called WMDs.
Regardless of how the public felt about the war, it happened anyway. I was in my early teens when the war broke out but was more interested in Rap music and lying to be cool. However, it seemed like we were getting reports of war crimes daily. Whether it was the behavior of certain soldiers, decisions made by the government to torture people, or civilians being caught in the crossfire. You could argue that war is war and that certain lines must be crossed to succeed. However, I believe that someone should be held accountable for those decisions.
Julian Assange is a journalist who dared to tell the truth about these crimes. He created the Wikileaks platform to allow people to share information and release it to the public. I believe that the public has a right to know what our governments are doing overseas. If your local politician was embezzling funds and enacting policies that only benefited themselves, you would want to know about it. It’s in the public interest and the interest of the rest of the world for us to be able to hold our governments accountable for their actions.
Julian shone a spotlight on the crimes that were being committed. Like many journalists that have come before him, he highlighted injustices. He even won awards for the reports he produced. Yet he is currently being held in a maximum-security prison in the United Kingdom. Why? Because he dared to tell the truth. He dared to expose what our governments and politicians had become. He dared to question the authority.
Extradition of a Truth Teller
The US has been trying to extradite Julian Assange and if they are successful, he could face a 175-year prison sentence. 175 years for telling the truth about crimes that were being committed overseas. Regardless of what you believe about the other charges that were brought up against him, conveniently at the same time the US was trying to extradite him, you must ask why such a large sentence.
The US trying to make an example of him, but they should be more concerned about making him a martyr. By throwing such a heavy sentence at him they are trying to scare people into not following in his footsteps. If you question the government then you’re an enemy. However, the message it sends to me is, if you tell the truth, you will be punished. Do as I say, not as I do. Orwell Is rolling in his grave.
Julian Assange does not deserve to be in prison. He deserves to be recognized for what he is. He is the journalist of the century. I’ve read his book and I have no opinion on his character. Others have said that he is quite difficult to work with but that doesn’t matter. His actions are what’s important. Like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange dared to tell the truth while others remained quiet. He put his life on the line to expose the truth about how far our governments are willing to go to protect their interests. Julian Assange shouldn’t be locked in a cell or forced into exile. He should be celebrated for his heroic actions.
I believe new laws should be written to protect whistle-blowers from governments when the information being leaked is of public interest. I believe that new legal systems to share sensitive information should be implemented. Legal Systems outside of government, who could then work with the government to address the information without making it go away. I do not believe that whistle-blowers should be subjected to lengthy legal proceedings and possible incarceration for telling the truth. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances like the sharing of a private organization’s secrets (such as patents) or causing physical harm to a person through the leaking of information. Whistle-blowers are the truth-tellers in an age where telling the truth has become a crime.
Many people throughout history including US politician Senator Hiram Warren Johnson in 1918, or Dr. Samuel Johnson in 1758, or even the ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus around 550 BC have been quoted as saying something like:
“The first casualty of war is the truth”
However, with this dystopia that we are slowly slipping into. With every surveillance device that gets added to the network. With every right that gets taken away (such as the right to protest) in the pursuit of increased security. I feel the following is a more fitting quote for our time.
“speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act”George Orwell
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