Julian Assange is an Australian activist, journalist, activist and publisher. He is famously known as the founder and editor in chief of Wikileaks; an online international non-profit institution which publishes news leaks, secret information and confidential media from unknown sources. According to Assange the main purpose of the organization is to bring vital information and news to the public; publishing original content alongside news stories in order for historians and readers to find out evidence of the truth. He also asserts that the organization has a goal of ensuring that whistleblowers or journalists who email classified or sensitive information, are information are not jailed.
The organization; Wikileaks has come to the limelight over the recent past for its whistle blowing activities. It has released various significant documents that have ended up as front page news items. The early releases were in 2010; including the documentation of the US government expenditure on equipment and affluences in the Afghanistan war and the corruption cases in Kenya (Dedman, 2013). Since then Assange has published various vital information including a compilation of multiple documents concerning the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war, and also crucial information about the Guantanamo bay prisoners. But the major release which brought problems to Assange was the documentation of the U.S. State department diplomatic cable.
As a result of these information leaks, the US justice department initiated an investigation process on Assange and Wikileaks. In fact, Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general declared that the investigation was not a pacey process, it was an ongoing investigation. On some occasions, the justice department has stated to be considering pressing espionage charges although countered by the first amendment which guarantees protection for press (Orthmann & Hess, 2012). Nevertheless, Assange has been designated by the US government and military as an enemy of the United States; legally equating him to a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Some government have further made him a target of the international smear campaign to brand him as a terrorist or criminal without any basis on law.
Although he is branded as glorified hacker and threat to national and international security by the U.S and other states, Assange is a supporter of human rights and freedom of speech. He exposes corporate and state secrets, enhancing transparency while supporting the freedom of media or press and promoting a democratic discourse by challenging powerful organizations. As the Texas congressman, Ron Paul states in 2010, a free society requires individuals to know the truth. Assange through Wikileaks has brought to light some darkest secrets of governments. In essence, Assange as a journalist who aim to expose government secrets in a way which the media has continually done; shading the light on information which governments consider as secrets. The media has a duty to responsibly report this information whenever at hand. Therefore the demonization of Assange is a perilous threat to democracy which depends on fearless and free press (Orthmann & Hess, 2012).
The hostility which is directed towards Assange emerges from the mere fact the individuals in power have the right to privatize their information. These individuals do not want the public to know of their actions or thoughts or to be conversant with the mechanisms they apply while in power. There is also no evidence that the information released by Assange has devastating effects to anyone. The U.S. government has also refuted the Assange request for cooperation in scrubbing the name which could be compromised. In that essence the information released by Wikileaks is not a threat to the society, in fact the real threat emerges from the reactionary responses which the governments have developed towards it. The U.S. government has advanced the steps which promises to disclaim the traditions of free speech and rule of law if unchecked. Secrecy is regularly posited as a vital element of good governance, a principle which has been widely accepted to the extent that some journalists have declared Assange’s efforts as unacceptable.
Assange’s actions are also pivotal to the growth of the media industry. Wikileaks does not operate in a similar manner as the press because it does not endeavor to scrutinize information before publishing it. However, it operates within the media system, nourishing publications with novel documents which are found anywhere else and protecting them against government pressures which seek to suppress information. As an alternative to the repudiation actions such as the black listing of such sites and the enactment of espionage regulations which would incriminate the publication of secrets, Assange in his activities, promote the adoption of Wikileaks and its equivalents are protected under the rights guaranteed under the First amendment. Lastly, by leaking out information on secrets involving the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Assange provide a check for government activities thus promoting the observation of human rights.
In conclusion, Assange is not a glorified hacker and threat to national and international security as branded by governments but a supporter of human rights and freedom of speech. His actions expose corporate and state secrets, enhancing transparency while supporting the freedom of media or press and promoting a democratic discourse by challenging powerful organizations. By leaking out information on secrets involving the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Assange provide a check for government activities thus promoting the observation of human rights.
Dedman, B. (2013). “ U.S. v. Wikileaks: espionage and the First Amendment”. NBCNews.com. Retrieved November 8, 2013 from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/40653249/#.Un0K5Gk4k6k
Orthmann, C. & Hess, K. (2012).Criminal investigation. 10th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.