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The WikiLeaks War – The End?

In December of 2010 and January of 2011, I had a series of posts with this title, so I’m using it again now, after the plea deal that led to Julian Assange’s release seems to end the saga, suddenly and with a whimper. Of course, it remains to be seen what will happen to him from now on, not because I’d think that taking him out is still something that’s formally taken into consideration at high levels, but to some extent because there may be some individuals who’d still be sufficiently determined to retaliate on their own and mainly because his health, both physical and mental, has been deteriorating and readjusting to a “normal” life, and to family life, will certainly prove difficult in itself.
On the other hand, the sad truth is that the deal has bad consequences for press freedom, since pleading guilty of espionage for acts of journalism, and doing so in the United States, sends a chilling message throughout the world. So it might be a typical compromise when it comes to the two parties involved, an outcome that neither is happy with but both find less revolting than the alternatives, but it can be seen as Assange betraying the cause that he was supposed to stand for. After many increasingly difficult years and at a point when not doing so would have likely meant actually risking his life, but nevertheless doing it for his own benefit in the end.
Then again, there always was every indication that Assange, as a person, was a problem, and after he got in real trouble, whether directly related to the releases or not, he tried to use every trick to obtain some relative safety for himself all along, which puts him closer to Edward Snowden, who didn’t just end up fleeing to Russia but by now went as far as to pledge allegiance and obtain Russian citizenship, which can easily be said to be a betrayal of everything he claimed to stand for. On the other hand, you have Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, who may be considered the most notable whistleblower, especially when it comes to this entire saga, and who owned up to it, did the time in terrible conditions that clearly amounted to torture, even attempted suicide, and after being released even ended up back in prison for refusing to testify against Assange, despite having a poor opinion of him, of his leadership and influence.
Since I got to Chelsea, I just have to say that, if anyone would have been awarded the position of being the public face, the flagbearer, of whistleblowing, of free access to information, of holding authorities to account on the basis of such information, it should have been her. She acted on the basis of her principles and stood by them, showed courage and determination… And also strikes me as a much better person in general, after reading something like an interview from The Guardian that went deeper. And the fact that she has now moved past all of that doesn’t change things, quite the contrary, those who deserve such positions generally being those who don’t want them…
But the fact remains that this is another situation where that position wasn’t awarded, but taken, so Julian Assange has it, which was once again proved by the amount of media attention that this development has received. So, even if pleading guilty is different from being found guilty in the sense that it doesn’t actually set a legal precedent, the consequences of his plea deal will have a far greater impact than the sentences received by Chelsea Manning or anyone else, and the same is likely to be true for what he’ll do and what will happen to him from now on. If he will somehow leave it all behind, maybe someone else, and most preferably someone more deserving, will eventually pick up that banner and a new set of consequences will emerge from that, but until and unless that happens, this may be the end of this particular saga, but the ripples left in its wake may well turn into dangerous waves.


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