Journalism Is Not A Crime – Julian Assange is Fighting Extradition

Australian editor, publisher and activist Julian Assange is the founder of the internationally controversial platform, “Wikileaks”. He is currently battling extradition to the US.

Credit: CoinDesk

Julian Assange is currently battling extradition to the U.S. where he faces a one hundred and seventy-five year prison sentence for violation of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In 2010, the forum put out a series of classified American Intelligence documents from anonymous sources. They were provided by US Army Intelligence Analyst, Chelsea Manning.

Assange says via AssangeDAO that

“One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice”

The case almost mirrors the publication of the Pentagon papers in 1971. They reveal Johnson’s administration and its systematic lying to the public. This is about US’ political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The Analyst of the US Army Intelligence, Chelsea Manning, risks everything to tell the corrupt truth to the public. She reveals classified intelligence which reveals cracks within the capitalist system.

Political Backdealings

Chelsea Manning | Credit: BBC

According to AWTT, Manning continues to state that “Crazy, almost criminal political backdealings like everything from the buildup to the Iraq War…it affects everybody on earth … Everywhere there’s a US post … there’s a diplomatic scandal”. A video, “Collateral Murder”, depects US military personnel murdering suspects, and two Reuters journalists, that were unarmed insurgents. In 2010 she is convicted of aiding the enemy. She ends up serving seven years of a thirty-five year prison sentence; the sentence proves to violate the US constitution’s eighth amendment right, causing public uproar. Manning tells AWTT,

“If you had free reign over classified networks and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain — what would you do? God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… I want people to see the truth”.

Criminal Investigation Into Wikileaks

The leaks released in 2010 include the Baghdad airstrike, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and Cablegate. The leaks include 75,000 documents in relation to the Afghanistan war logs and around 390,000 army field reports about the Iraq war logs. His appeal against his extradition is based on the fear of highly restrictive and contained prison conditions, and his fragile mental health conditions that put him at risk of suicide. If the US Supreme Court wins against his appeal he will face a 175 year prison sentence for his accused war crimes and violating espionage laws.

Journalism Is Not A Crime

The right to publish information should not be criminalised because it’s a humanitarian right and a cornerstone of democracy. A protest against the extradition of Assange to the US occurred outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on January 24th, 2022. Citizens held banners stating that journalism is not a crime. He’s been allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom by the High Court of Justice and can attempt not to be brought to trial in the United States. 

Credit: Al Jazeera

Assange is using DAO NFT to fund his legal battle. This decentralized autonomous organization, formed in 2020, is full of cyber-geniuses. They are wholly committed to freeing Assange. The group raised $7.5 million in Ethereum (ETH) exchange rates to assist in paying his funds and spreading awareness of the systematic failure of the justice system. The NFT Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. The DAO intend to raise capital by bidding on NFT artwork. The NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’ art. These are produced by Pak who is a digital artist who is in collaboration with Assange.

NFT Series, Censored

The theme is anti-censorship. Julian Assange launched the latest NFT project ‘Censored’ on the 7th of February, 2022 in collaboration with digital artist Pak. However, many speculate that Pak is not a single person but a group of people under a pseudonym. It raised $40 million pre-auction. @Pak explains via Twitter, “Censored is a collaboration with Julian Assange. It’s about you. It consists of two parts, a dynamic 1/1 and a dynamic open edition, for you all to participate. It will be here on February 7th.”

Credit: The Crypto Times

The DAO aims to increase the Ethereum rates in return for justice, and are using NFT’s to fund the battle. They aim to bid on ‘Censored’ and intend to use the funds to help his legal fees and raise awareness of the injustices of the judicial system. Bitcoin News states that, “We will raise funds to help with his legal fees and campaigns to increase public awareness on the systemic failure of our justice systems. We, the cypherpunks, are rallying to the cause of a fellow cypherpunk in distress.”

Assange’s Future

Ultimately, the DAO using NFT to fund the battle is one of the countless groups supporting the freedom of Assange. Amnesty International calls it,

“A Travesty of justice”. 

The protest represents a wider argument of democratic freedoms of the press  and humanitarian rights. The future of the Assange case will determine the trust between the people and elites and validity of the democratic system.

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