UNAC Statement on the Persecution of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

The US has charged Julian Assange with espionage, and he now faces life in prison for telling the truth about U.S. war crimes.  Assange is not a US citizen; so, if these charges hold, journalists anywhere in the world who tell the truth about the United States can be subject to prosecution if the U.S. decides the information is “classified.”  In recent years, the U.S. has routinely classified information about illegal and unpopular acts committed by its military as a way of hiding them from the public.  This prosecution will have a chilling effect on all investigative reporting; it is the most severe violation of freedom of speech we have seen in decades.

Assange and WikiLeaks simply took information they received from sources, and after determining that it was true, published it.  This is what investigative journalists do.  Even, prominent U.S. corporate media such as the New York Times and the Washington Post published this information received from WikiLeaks, but they are not being prosecuted.

Sign our Petition to Free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

Some of the most important information that WikiLeaks published was provided by Chelsea Manning, who today sits in jail for refusing to cooperate with a Grand Jury trying to get information with which to prosecute Assange.  One important video that Manning sent to WikiLeaks was the “Collateral Murder” video that was played at the first UNAC conference, and introduced by Ethan McCord, who was a soldier on the ground as the US military shot and killed Iraqi civilians and journalists from a helicopter, and then killed the first responders as they came to help. As they were shooting, you can hear the U.S. soldiers laughing as the people on the ground tried to scatter and many fell to their death. The video of Ethan McCord at the first UNAC conference can be seen here

This video is evidence of war crimes on the part of the United States in Iraq, but they have never been prosecuted for these war crimes.  Instead they have accused the people who have courageously exposed them of criminal acts.  If this is allowed, the entire world is less safe.

Julian Assange is charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.  The Espionage Act was passed soon after the U.S. entered World War I.  Its purpose was to stop opposition to the war.   It made it a crime to “utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States.”

Sign our Petition to Free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

The Espionage Act was used to ban newspapers, magazine and even personal letters from the mail if they contained antiwar messages.  It was used to jail the Socialist leader Eugene Debs during the war and hundreds of leaders of antiwar and labor organizations.  It was responsible for the extradition of thousands of people, even U.S. citizens, to countries of their origin who were deemed disloyal to the U.S. government.  Although, the Sedition Act was repealed in 1921, after it achieved its purpose, the foundation document of the Sedition Act, the Espionage Act is still in place.  To dredge this up over a century later to prosecute Assange for telling the truth is a dangerous precedent during this period of attacks on freedom of the press, and other democratic rights, in this time of continual war.

The American Civil Liberties Union stated that the charges against Assange are

“an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, establishing a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets.”

It is very unfortunate that we are seeing some people who characterize themselves as “progressive”, and journalists, supporting the prosecution of Assange because, in the narrative of leaders of the Democratic Party and their corporate media, he helped get Trump elected. It is much easier for them to blame their election loss on Assange and Wikileaks telling truths, than on their own policies, which their corporate backers do not want to see changed.

Sign our Petition to Free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

Julian Assange is being held in a maximum-security prison in Britain in virtual isolation awaiting extradition to the U.S. or to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct, which previously had been dropped then recently revised, as many believe, to further vilify him in support of U.S. prosecution.

Although Assange has limited access to visitors, phone calls or any outside contact he was able to say to a reporter that he is

“unbroken albeit literally surrounded by murderers. But the days when I could read and speak and organize to defend myself, my ideals and my people are over until I am free. Everyone else must take my place.”

If Assange is allowed to be convicted, leaders of the antiwar movement or other movements for social change could be next. Therefore, we must see the fight for the freedom of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning as our own fight and stand with them.

Sign our Petition to Free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

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