How to defend Assange?

How to defend Assange?

As director and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange is responsible for publishing sensitive material exposing institutions, governments and public figures. The United States has launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and asked allied nations for assistance. If extradited to the US, Assange may face life imprisonment or worse, the death penalty. So his defense is working day and night to prevent his extradition.

HACKING JUSTICE by Clara Lopez and Juan Pancorbo, a Visible Film Release

For six years now and with no way out, Julian Assange has been confined to the space of the Ecuadorian Embassy where he has found refuge from the United States. To his rescue has come Baltasar Garzon, one of the most renowned jurists in the world. By taking on the defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Garzon aims to prevent the western world from slipping away from its principle values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We uphold those values because we want to be represented by a transparent government that allows its citizens to form its own opinions and express its own ideals. However many of the Wikileaks revelations show that our governments are not fully transparent and that they, behind the scenes, take many measures to control the opinions of its citizens.

With unique and independent access to the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK, the film Hacking Justice shows how hard it is to check our governments when they don't want to, even in the US where the first amendment protects citizens.

Why Judge Baltasar Garzon Defends Assange?

In the documentary film Hacking Justice we closely follow Julian Assange's defense team, headed by the internationally renowned Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzón. Garzón formerly served on Spain's special National Court, where he investigated the most important criminal cases, including terrorism, organised crime and money laundering. 

Garzón came to international attention in 1998 when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean President, General Augusto Pinochet  during a stay in London. Although the British government refused to extradite Pinochet, it was the first time that a former head of state had been arrested on the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Why has the US launched a criminal investigation into Wikileaks?

Many of Wikileaks' most prominent revelations came from massive releases of highly classified US military documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars. Most notably, on April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks  released gunsight footage from an apache helicopter under the name Collateral Murder. The 39-minute video showed a lethal attack on presumed insurgents and the radio chatter between the aircrews and ground units involved.

The release of the video fully discredited the US government's official stance on their rules of engagement in Iraq and was widely regarded as a huge embarrassment for the moral status of the United States.  Since then, WikiLeaks has continued to publish compromising material.

What are the stakes?

For Garzón, defending Assange means protecting the cause of transparency and freedom of information in a world transformed by the technological revolution of internet. The stakes are: our right to information, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and their ability to check the powers.

WikiLeaks earned a lot of criticism for its editorial decisions. However many analysts agree that arresting Assange would be a threat to the First Amendment. And a Wikileaks prosecution will endanger the future of journalism, because it could set a dangerous precedent for other media organizations. 

The investigation of Assange and Wikileaks dates back to 2010 but prosecutors struggled with the question of whether the First Amendment protected Assange. Now the prosecution reportedly has found a way to proceed but offers no details on the nature of the charges they plan to file. In short, what Wikileaks is doing is unacceptable to (US) authorities. It puts at risk their national security, it undermines their foreign policy interests - they want Assange stopped. If Assange is arrested he may face life imprisonment or worse, the Death Penalty.

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