Today marks the sixth anniversary of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s effective house arrest in London. He cannot move around in public, because he fears he will be arrested and extradited to America — a daunting prospect, since a UN special rapporteur described Chelsea Manning’s treatment by that country’s justice system as torture.
Assange is divisive. Hawks wish him nothing but misfortune and a stretch in jail. According to journalist John Pilger, a leaked official memo says: “Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He’ll be eating cat food forever.”
If you stand at the other end of the spectrum, Assange is a hero who revealed how our world really works. Consequently, he has been relentlessly targeted. Hilary Clinton has contributed to this process, as Assange highlighted the Clintons’ links with Saudi Arabia and the multimillion donations that kingdom made to their foundation, after she, as secretary of state, sanctioned an $80bn Saudi arms deal.
Assange remains, despite illegal efforts to revoke it, an Australian citizen, but he has not enjoyed the support a person who has not been charged with anything, much less convicted of anything, might expect from a democracy.
These are indeed murky waters, but Assange’s ordeal reconfirms a truth: News is something someone, somewhere, does not want published. That’s why he is such a threat.