Julian Assange threatened



When they were most needed, human rights activists did not shy away from the challenge that history threw at them. And now it is Julian Assange who is at imminent risk

This week, the Supreme Court in London judges the latest in a series of appeals from Julian Assange's lawyers regarding the United States' request for his extradition to that country.

Great Britain, where he is detained, once again shows how servile it is to the United States. He has given in to all kinds of legal nonsense to harm the defendant. And now he is being threatened with extradition to that country, where an indictment under the Espionage Law awaits him, with a total of sentences of more than 100 years on the horizon.

And what did he do so seriously to be in this situation, for so many years in the Ecuadorian embassy? He just founded Wikileaks, the largest forum for reporting crimes by states and security agencies. As here in Brazil we were victims of the terror of the dictatorship, we should be sensitive to the defense of democratic freedoms. And information is one of them. If it weren't for Wikileaks, there would never have been Vaza Jato, which demoralized the Lava Jato scams.

A robust tradition of North American civil disobedience consists of the leaking of confidential (and illegal) information that the modern state stores to use against its citizens. The aim is to deceive them, manipulate them, force them to do what harms them, drive them to suicide if necessary. Australian Julian Assange has worthy precursors in his adopted country.

As the United States is the most powerful nation on the planet, it is only natural that it makes sense to operate such leaks there. One of the most notorious cases is that of Daniel Ellsberg, whose credentials are impeccable: an economist from Harvard and Navy with internship in Vietnam. He was at the center of the serious incident that became known as “The Pentagon Papers”. This military analyst from Rand Corporation He did work at the Pentagon in 1971, during the Vietnam War, and began to be first amazed and then outraged by the discrepancy between what the government said and the statistics that came into his hands. While the government claimed to slow down the war effort to conclude the war despite the victories, the data showed that, on the contrary, it was committed to an escalation, investing ever greater resources to camouflage the defeats. Instead of putting an end to the conflict, therefore, a growing hecatomb was being prepared.

Daniel Ellsberg clandestinely copied seven thousand documents, sought contact with one of the most important and serious newspapers in the country, the The New York Times, and began to tell the story. He previously harassed congressmen who were notoriously anti-war, such as Senator Fulbright, but was rebuffed. .

O New York Times began publishing the documents serially. The government suspended publication. The newspaper appealed to the Supreme Court, which won the case.

Discovered, Daniel Ellsberg was charged with treason under the Espionage Act and tried as a defendant with a sentence of 115 years. But, as the trial continued, the government's abuses, with dirty evidence obtained even through illegal wiretapping by the FBI, emerged. And he ended up being acquitted, to the delight of his fans around the world, at this point constituting a fan base attentive to the justice of the process.

Just as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are linked to the leaks that show how American security agencies spy on citizens, Daniel Ellsberg became known as the one who revealed the Pentagon's secret papers, precipitating the end of the Vietnam War.

The three are representatives of a libertarian undercurrent that flows almost invisibly beneath the shell of a dubious democracy.

The lineage of civil disobedience is extraordinary and deserves respect, dating back to Underground railroad who smuggled slaves to freedom, with an estimated total of 100 thousand who were thus saved. The gallows awaited these worthy citizens, when discovered. This was the case of John Brown and his group in Virginia, all of whom were hanged after a trial, despite protests from around the world. Even Victor Hugo sent a letter to the president, asking for clemency. In vain.

When they were most needed, human rights activists did not shy away from the challenge that history threw at them. And now it is Julian Assange who is at imminent risk.

*Walnice Nogueira Galvão Professor Emeritus at FFLCH at USP. She is the author, among other books, of reading and rereading (Sesc\Ouro over Blue). [amzn.to/3ZboOZj]

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