Wikileaks founder faces extradition

Aditya Saxena

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Julian Assange, the founder of the infamous Wikileaks website, failed to escape the clutches of the British police who last week handed him over to the Ecuadorian authorities. The police dragged a resistant and sequestered 47-year old Assange, who was holed up in the embassy for the last seven years on asylum. The South American country revoked his status due to his sheer disrespect Assange displayed to his hosts.

Assange’s behavior definitely reflects the same rancor and arrogance that plunged him into his downward spiral. Once the poster boy of government whistle-blowing confidential information  on the internet (like Hillary Clinton’s emails or the Manning case documents), his perception worldwide is now more aligned with that of the United States government; the same entity that was crippled in the wake of Assange’s nefarious above exercise. In short, the jury for his extradition is out and more in favor of the U.S government. The Washington Post was prompt to chalk this to his inefficacy in conveying the gravity of the documents he released, acting as a self-proclaimed journalist than the whistle-blower he should have been. It even pointed out to the similarities between the Pentagon reports and the Manning case documents, making the case for the need of a credible journalistic middle-entity to really do the deed. 

Assange is originally from Australia where he was involved in a series of local network hacks  for which he was often indicted and arraigned but not charged. After studying at the University of Melbourne and advising local police authorities on improving their security, he started Wikileaks as an outlet for exposing global communication threads that deployed a frail security. His famous breaches include the Turkey/Israel global intelligence files as well as information pertaining to Amazon’s cloud contracts with the government. However, he rose in popularity due to his involvement in the Chelsea Manning case, a famous case of stealing and promulgating government secrets from a top level army intelligence unit. Joe Biden, the then Vice President, labeled him a non-state actor with a pro-Russian bias and called for an immediate prosecution. In the wake of this, Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 in London (where he was on bail) to thwart any extradition attempts from the United States. 

In the meantime, however he has been accused and cleared of sexual assault cases stemming from multiple countries, namely Sweden and the United Kingdom. Something seems off in the soft tactics countries are employing in pursuing him. In fact, what really led to the revoking of his asylum is a little unclear, but speculations are rife with lobbying and duress. Ecuador officially accuses him of disrespectful behavior toward them, calling him a “spoiled brat.” Anyway, beneath the veneer of conservativeness that I would otherwise employ while writing an article, I am more or less disillusioned by the insipidity with which mainstream media has pursued this story. Opinions have been scarce and token, limited to drawing comparisons with those who have committed espionage in the past. When Edward Snowden was granted asylum, the whole world watched and kept up with the latest developments. Documentaries were made alongside sweeping accusations against the U.S government. So, why this discrimination now? We need to hear what Assange has to say in the British courts before he is sent up the river  to the United States.