He revealed some of the lies that George Bush and Tony Blair used to justify mass murder.
Assange has been hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost seven years. On Thursday he was dragged out by police, with the permission of the Ecuadorian authorities.
Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks. In 2010 it released about 470,000 classified military documents concerning American diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It later released a further tranche of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.
Many of these were obtained by former US soldier Chelsea Manning. She spent seven years in jail and has recently been jailed again for refusing to name those who helped her.
Wikileaks obtained and decrypted video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007. It showed Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Baghdad, Iraq.
After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and tries to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well.
Assange faces British charges of not keeping to bail conditions. He is also charged by the US with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer”.
The US Justice Department claimed he faces a prison sentence of no more than five years if he is found guilty.
But if he is transferred to the US other charges are possible. These include treason—that carries a death penalty—or indefinite detention as an “enemy combatant”.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said in the Commons on Thursday, “It is whistleblowing into illegal wars, mass murder, murder of civilians and corruption on a grand scale that has put Julian Assange in the crosshairs of the US administration.
“It is for this reason that they have once more issued an extradition warrant against Mr Assange.”
Assange should not be sent to the US.
But it can’t be ignored that he has faced allegations of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. Two women made allegations against him in 2010.
Assange has not been charged yet over these, but that is because the Swedish criminal process charges only before trial.
Contrary to some reports, the allegations were not dismissed but put aside because of his non-availability. Assange first entered the Ecuadorian assembly to avoid extradition to Sweden on these charges.
An investigation into a rape allegation in Sweden can be brought to court at any time before the limitation period expires in August 2020.
The woman who brought the rape allegation can request that the investigation be resumed, and on Thursday her lawyer did so.
The Swedish prosecuting body has confirmed it is reviewing whether to resume the investigation and put in an extradition request.
Anna Ardin is one of the women who made allegations about Assange but whose case has expired due to time limitations. She tweeted on Thursday, “I would be very surprised and sad if Julian is handed over to the US.
“For me this was never about anything else than his misconduct against me/women and his refusal to take responsibility for this. Too bad my case could never be investigated properly.”
A British court will decide whether to grant priority to a Swedish extradition request or the US one.
Assange should face trial in Sweden if the woman who made the complaint continues with it. It doesn’t help the anti-war movement to trivialise or brush aside such allegations, still less to suggest that the women are frauds.
But he should not be sent to the US. To do so would punish someone for exposing imperial slaughter.