photo: Francesco Turso
By Francesco Turso
Much like Dr. Frankenstein, Julian Assange has created a monster, and there is no shortage of an angry mob. Sweden is currently trying to extradite Assange on questionable charges of rape; questionable because the case was dropped and later reinstated due to “undue political influence,” as Assange’s lawyers stated. Many in the United States are calling WikiLeaks’ release of 77,000 secret American documents from the war in Afghanistan tantamount to treason.
There are however supporters of WikiLeaks. Snorre Valen, a Norwegian politician, has nominated WikiLeaks for the 2011 Nobel Peace Price. According to a CNN article, “the Strortinget parliamentarian believes WikiLeaks has helped redraw the map of information freedom.” Michael Moore has also come out in support of Assange. In The Telegraph, UK, he was quoted stating that supporting Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks website is a “true act of patriotism.”
Not everyone supports Assange so unconditionally.
“Certainly as a journalist I support freedom of information and transparency in government. However, journalists also have an obligation to ethics. I don’t see the value in exposing catty remarks between diplomats just for the sake of doing so. I think if Assange is judicious in what he reveals, he will be much more effective. Exposing lies and dangerous activities is what is important,” said Danette Watt, an Alton journalist.
Upon visiting the WikiLeaks site, one may find that the drive behind Julian’s creation is based upon the defense of freedom of speech and media publishing. “We derive these principles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular, Article 19 inspires the work of our journalists and other volunteers. It states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. We agree, and we seek to uphold this and the other Articles of the Declaration.”
In congruence with his belief in free speech and media publishing, Assange has decided to make his defense public. On February 7, Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, told The Telegraph, UK, “we’re intending to put our defense argument on my firm’s home page at 10 am.”
Assange’s monster continues to be chased by an angry mob wielding torches, looking to burn to the ground his creation. Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, said on her Facebook account that Assange “should be hunted down just like al-Qaeda.” Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, was quoted during a book signing tour stating that the people responsible for leaking US diplomatic cables should be executed. Multiple hacker attacks have plagued the WikiLeaks site since its launch and have caused supporters to create mirror sites in an effort to keep the information public.
Bradley Manning, the soldier who allegedly leaked documents to WikiLeaks, was arrested on May 29, 2010. He is still in custody as of today. Many lawyers and activist groups have protested against his treatment at the hands of the military. When asked about Manning, Assange has denied ever hearing his name before the media publicized his arrest. In an interview on MSNBS, however, Assange came to his defense, “He’s been a political prisoner without trial…this is serious business.”
As long as Assange’s monster is out there, there will always be a mob with torches ready to burn it down. There are, of course, others who believe that this monster deserves to exist and they will fight for its continued existence.