Assange Free Speech Opinion

Free Assange? Yes, But That’s Not Nearly Enough

Photograph Source: thierry ehrmann – CC BY 2.0

By Thomas Knapp / CounterPunch

On June 17, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States to face 18 criminal charges: One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. If convicted on all charges, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.

His final recourse is an appeal to the High Court of Justice where, if the history of his case is any indication, he’ll be told that they’re all out of justice and have none for him.

If justice had anything to do with it, previous courts would have thrown out the US extradition request on grounds of both jurisdiction and treaty language. The “crimes” of which Assange is accused were not committed on US soil. And Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty forbids extradition for political offenses.

Be clear on this: Assange is a political prisoner, held for and charged with committing … journalism.

He exposed war crimes committed by US government forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other illegal schemes such as then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attempts to have UN diplomats’ offices bugged.

The US government hates having its crimes exposed and, First Amendment be damned, tries to make examples out of those who dare display its dirty laundry.

While Assange obviously has more skin in the game than anyone else in this particular case, he’s not the real target. The real target is the NEXT journalist who catches the US government acting illegally. The goal is to make that journalist think twice before telling you about it.

For that reason, stopping the extradition of Julian Assange isn’t enough. Nor should we settle for an acquittal in court or a presidential pardon.

Crimes HAVE been committed, and examples DO need to made of the criminals who committed them.

The US Attorneys who filed the indictment — Tracy Dogerty-McCormick, Kellen S. Dwyer, and Thomas W. Traxler — must be charged with violating 18 US Code Titles 241 (Conspiracy Against Rights) and 242 (Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law).  In addition to any prison sentences, they must permanently lose their licenses to practice law and be disqualified for life from further employment by the US government.

The same goes for their assorted co-conspirators, up to and including sitting and former presidents of the United States.

The US Department of Justice must dismiss the indictment, withdraw the extradition request, publicly apologize for its crimes against Assange, and compensate him richly for years of confinement and torture at its behest.

That’s the absolute bare minimum. Just as Assange was not their real target, they’re not ours. Our target is all the government officials who might, in the future, consider committing this kind of crime again.

Thomas Knapp

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


  1. Thank you for expanding my understanding of the crimes against Assange. The US is sliding into a lawlessness, and acceding to personal vengefulness of the powerful.

  2. Moreover, shouldn’t the U.S. face a war crimes court? And shouldn’t the civilians and journalists murdered in the video provided by Manning receive damages??

  3. Agreed. A number of crimes have been committed and are being allowed to be committed by the collective silence and averting of eyes to the crimes. It is my fervent hope that the gradual awakening to the crimes against Assange will be enough to set him free.

    Those responsible for this cruel mockery of justice must be named, and know that their crimes have been exposed and justice will be served- sooner or later.

    Let us plan for a People’s Nuremberg Trial- at which we would likely hear that same failed plea: “I was just following orders”.

  4. Very well said. Thank you. I will promulgate it as widely as I can.

    I have a suggestion: how about we all try to message Julian Assange and tell him we need him to continue his work?

    In or out of prison he can still be a whistleblower, a wikileaker.

    He may even do a better job in prison sometimes inasmuch as he can reveal the truth about that to us.

    Point is: we need him to continue his work. If he focuses on that it may be a tad easier for him. I hope.

    We need him to win. He wins by surviving and continuing his work. Get that message to him.

  5. “While Assange obviously has more skin in the game than anyone else in this particular case, he’s not the real target. The real target is the NEXT journalist who catches the US government acting illegally. The goal is to make that journalist think twice before telling you about it.”

    I don’t even know if they had to persecute Assange to get this result. Exactly what journalists, publications, or media are doing this kind of work? We don’t have anything resembling a real news media; we have instead a propaganda machine that brainwashes the public. This is not to denigrate any of the good reporters and political commenters who are still around, but they are very few & far between.

  6. Assange won’t survive unless public pressure persuades the Tories that its politically expedient to let him out,
    But you can appreciate their dilemma, as once he’s let go without having been charged and put on trial for any crime having been in prison for three years after his 7 years of “sanctuary “, people will wake up to the fact this could also happen to them, and start chasing the government for someone to be prosecuted for the unlawful incarceration l. . The Home Office has not answered two e-mails from me now. At least the new Australian government has said that this has gone on long enough . As a Christian it bugs me that the miserable regime here didn’t even allow him to use the prison chapel for his wedding, as if they can speak for God in some way. I hope one day they have to compensate him many millions for that and pay for a proper wedding as well, with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture ankle Melzer and the journalist Chris Hedges, who flew from New York but wasn’t allowed into the prison wedding, as guests of honour.

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