Julian Asssange is a very well known activist, and the founder of Wikileaks. He is known for his role in exposing governments and entities all around the world. Many classify Julian Assange as a journalist, and the idol of free press. For years Julian Assagne has been wanted by governments all around the world, but mainly the US. After spending years locked up in an embassy, Julian Assange was placed under arrest in London, and is currently facing extradition to the US.
About Julian Assange
Julian Assange did not begin his life with the cleanest slate. From a young age, Assange had high interests in technology, and started getting involved with hacking. He was eventually charged with 31 counts of hacking, pleading guilty to 24. Assange got of easy, receiving a small fine and being set free on a good behavior bond. After his release Julian started associating with all sorts of projects hoping to achieve some success.
The start of WikiLeaks
In early 2006 Assange came up with the idea to create wikileaks. The plan was to create a website, that whistleblowers can use to anonymously reveal secret information. Later that year, wikileaks came online. In it's early life, wikileaks was used to reveal internet censorship lists, and smaller scale political corruption. The first major revelations made by wikileaks involved the 2008 presidential election. Contents from a yahoo account belonging to one of the candidates got published. This reportedly affected her campaign. Later that year, wikileaks exposed the membership list of the British far right.
Wikileaks kept up with its streak, with new information flowing in all the time. Wikileaks also revealed major corruption in the Arab world. This triggered the infamous Arab Spring movement. Overall, public perception on wikileaks was good at the time, but things started to change quickly.
Assange becomes a threat
In 2010, wikileaks started targeting the US government more directly. Over 391,832 US military documents were leaked, revealing major war crimes and corruption. A video of a US drone strike against innocent journalists was also revealed. Shortly after, the US government started to classify wikileaks as a national threat, and started drafting a plan to take it down. In November of 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant against Julian Assange. The arrest warrant was on grounds of Sexual Misconduct, but Assange claimed it was politically motivated.
While still publishing major leaks, Assange seeked refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He remained there, managing wikileaks from a small room for 7 years. While in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange managed to once again affect the presidential election. After revealing Hilary Clinton's emails that contained proof of corruption. This helped Trump win the presidential election.
Trump praised wikileaks, and even quoted 'I love wikileaks'. This soon changed after wikileaks published a major leak exposing the CIA. Corruption within the organization, and torture techniques used on prisoners were revealed. This is when the US government once again got interested in wikileaks, with trump calling it a terrorist organization. In the meantime things started to get tense in the Embassy. Assange exposed the new Ecuadorian president, and started becoming an annoyance. He finally got evicted from the embassy, and placed under arrest.
Extradition to the US
Since his arrest, Assange has spent his time in a high security prison in London. A psychologist reviewed Assange, and deemed him unfit for extradition. Reportedly both his physical and mental health are on a rapid decline. Recently a judge approved Julians extradition, but an appeal is underway. If extradited, Assange is facing life in a maximum security Virginia prison.
How this affects journalists
According to some law makers, Julian Assange did not break any laws, and arresting him justifies the arrest of many journalists. By law, what Assange did was receive information, and publish it online. In theory, Assange should be protected by freedom of press. In-fact, many American news outlets reported on the leaked documents. Some even published the video of the drone strike against journalists. In theory, this opens up all these journalists to the same sort of prosecution.
Many journalists from around the world have raised concerns, including journalists in the UK. This essentially means that any journalist can be targeted for publishing US documents. Is this the freedom of press we are used to?
Wikileaks is a fairly revolutionary platform that is here to stay, and helps make the world a better place by reducing corruption. It is clear that the US is just trying to set an example as not much can be done to take the platform down. Julian Assanges extradition is a major blow to free press, and puts many journalists around the world at risk.