“When it comes to press freedom threats,” Greenwald argues, the very real possibility that Trump could attempt to prosecute Assange “would not be in the same universe as name-calling tweets by Trump directed at various TV personalities.”
“It should not be this difficult for journalists to set aside their personal emotions about Assange to recognize the profound dangers—not just to press freedoms but to themselves—if the U.S. government succeeds in keeping Assange imprisoned for years to come, all due to its attempts to prosecute him for publishing classified or stolen documents,” Greenwald concludes. That seems the highly likely scenario once Ecuador hands over Assange to the U.K.”
In response to Greenwald’s reporting, many journalists echoed the sentiment that, whatever one feels about Assange, any true defender of press freedom should denounce efforts by the Trump administration to prosecute him for “merely publishing classified information the same way journalists regularly do.”
Writing for Consortium News, Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi—who has worked on documents released by WikiLeaks for years, noted: “Like its work or not, WikiLeaks is an independent media organization that doesn’t have to rely on traditional media to publish its scoops. Indeed it was founded to bypass the legal qualms traditional media may have about publishing classified information.”
“Thanks to WikiLeaks, it has been possible to reveal the true face of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq (Afghan War Logs, Iraq War Logs Files, and Collateral Murder), the identities of Guantanamo detainees (Gitmo Files), the scandals and embarrassing diplomatic deals contained in 251,287 U.S. diplomacy cables, such as pressure from the U.S. to neutralize Italian prosecutors investigating the extraordinary rendition of the Milan cleric, Abu Omar (Cablegate),” Maurizi observes.