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The Assange MatterRalph E. Stone, Salem-News.com
“I know nothing about Wikileaks.” -Donald J. Trump [April 11, 2019]
(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) - At this point, I am not sympathetic about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's arrest in London after being evicted from the Ecuadoran Embassy after six years in exile. Assange allegedly collaborated with Russians to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report is clear that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and sought to help Donald Trump win the White House.
His schemes are not journalism; he is not a journalist. No journalist worthy of the name would partner with an authoritarian regime to disrupt a democracy or pour classified material into the public domain without trying to verify its accuracy or seek comment from the subjects of the disclosures or conspire to break into a computer system (the subject of the U.S. indictment against him).
The indictment as it now stands is fairly narrow: accusing him of helping U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to try to crack a classified Defense Department password, which would be out of bounds in legitimate news gathering.
If tried in the U.S., the case significantly reduces concerns about press freedoms because it is outside traditional investigative journalism to help sources try to break passcodes so they can illegally hack into government computers.
In October 2016, Trump said, “I love Wikileaks.” However, on April 11, 2019, Trump said, “I know nothing about Wikileaks.”
Will the British extradite Assange? If so, to where: Sweden or the U.S.? Sweden's prosecuting authority is considering whether to reopen an investigation into an allegation of rape against Assange that was closed in 2017.
The rape allegations were made separately by two women in Sweden after a visit by Assange there in August 2010. The case was set aside because there was no practical way it could be continued while Assange remained in the Ecuadorian embassy.
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