Editorial: Transparency Warrior Walks Free

Editorial: Transparency Warrior Walks Free

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, June 26, 2024, 10:07 PM IST
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange | File Photo: AFP

In the ever-present struggle between transparency and opaqueness in all democratic countries, Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, won a long and arduous victory, ending years of incarceration and mental agony on Tuesday. Backroom multi-nation efforts to rescue him from a certain prosecution in the US for publishing sensitive and highly embarrassing cornucopia of classified military documents in 2013 climaxed in a deal under which Assange would admit to violating the Espionage Act and would be awarded five years he had already served in a UK prison. The plea bargain would see him appear personally in a US territory, Saipan, in the US Mariana Northern Islands, and then fly off to freedom to Australia, his home country. Under the US law, Assange faced 175 years in prison for having leaked tens of thousands of classified military documents in collaboration with Chelsea Manning, a US military intelligence analyst. During his escape to the Ecuadorian embassy in London Assange also faced sexual assault charges in Sweden and was ordered by a UK court to be extradited. Those charges were dropped a few years later. But the US vehemently pursued the espionage charges and was determined to have him extradited until the welcome plea bargain deal this week. Meanwhile, his ordeal could inspire other transparency activists in democratic countries to try and pierce through the veil of secrecy governments maintain over their functioning. However, it also could deter some others not to ferret out military secrets for fear of facing Assange-like hardships.

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