Focus on the issues rather than Assange

It is hard to imagine that the Julian Assange affair will end well. 

It moved to another level this week when the WikiLeaks founder was arrested in London after living as an asylum seeker in the city’s Ecuadorean embassy for seven years.

The issues are huge, almost defining in how Western societies order themselves. 

That such a figure, one open to accusations of Trump-like narcissism is the central figure will be used by those who would curtail press freedoms. 

That old dictum: news is something someone somewhere does not want published — offers all the context necessary. 

That similar issues were in play in our courts yesterday over garda efforts to access a journalist’s phone confirms this.

That Assange’s extradition is sought by America, and it would be amazing if a British court rejected that request, must add to the concern. 

That America has shifted towards fake justice, fake protection of rights but ever-more autocratic and right-wing attitudes towards long-established social and private protections hardly augers well.

Indeed, one expert group has warned about broader ramifications for press freedoms, The Center for Constitutional Rights said that the threat posed by the indictment was increased by having a White House hostile to the media.

“This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news’,” it said. 

Judge, jury and maybe jailer? 

Let’s hope not.

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