WikiLeaks marks its fifteenth anniversary with founder Julian Assange jailed in the UK awaiting a US appeal to extradite him to the United States, where he would face up to 175 years in solitary confinement for leaking classified information.
WikiLeaks was founded by Assange on October 4, 2006, but rose to prominence in 2010 when it began large-scale leaks of classified government information especially from the US.
Assange was arrested in London in 2019 for jumping bail in 2012, and faces an unprecedented sentence on espionage charges. The US government’s appeal to extradite him will be heard on October 27-28.
Former National Security Agency Technical Director and eminent US whistleblower William Binney believes the attempt to lock up and silence Assange for the rest of his life reflects the fury and hatred of the US and other major governments at the success of his operations.
“They [goverments] have to silence WikiLeaks at all cost as they expose the crimes that they commit,” Binney told Sputnik. “They are declaring their truth as the only truth. Real truth is now a crime.”
When governments and their intelligence agencies, he added, control the mainstream media, they target other avenues that try to expose the truth to the public.
“This is a worldwide effort to manipulate the population to do what they are told,” Binney said.
WikiLeaks rose to prominence most notably with regard to US human rights violations in Afghanistan and Iraq along with undisclosed civilian deaths. However, since then the site has also revealed the secrets of other governments and corporations worldwide.
Coleen Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent and a Time Magazine Whistleblower of the Year, sees WikiLeaks as the best platform in modern times for moral officials in governments around the world to expose the crimes and abuses of the elite.
“I think WikiLeaks’ most important achievement was its introduction of a path whereby honest and decent subordinates could anonymously share information about the illegal or public safety-endangering actions of the powerful, profiteering elites,” Rowley told Sputnik.
Had WikiLeaks existed in 2000 and 2001, “there would have been decent government employees who would have shared their revelations with the public that could have prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks” that took nearly 3,000 lives, Rowley said.
Unfortunately, she added, the corrupt military-industrial complex as well as Big Pharma and other profiteers soon found ways to regain control over the media to prevent any truth from leaking out about their sordid activities.
“Mass surveillance and draconian prosecution of whistleblowers and reporters/publishers, mass censorship and extreme use of brainwashing via emotionally-based propaganda from corrupted, embedded media has nearly ended whatever independence and honesty ever existed of a Fourth Estate,” she said.
Global peace activist Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder and former head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility, said Assange used his technical expertise to advance the cause of freedom around the world.
When Assange was a little boy, she explained, his mother used to take him to some of Caldicott’s anti-nuclear lectures in Australia. Fast forward to 2021, she added, and look at Assange’s impact on world affairs. Caldicott said he exposed organizations by publishing their secret documents which should, according to them, “never have seen the light of day.”
“What we have learned about the inner workings of the CIA, the NSA and numerous other organizations have helped many of us to make some sense of the worldly dynamics which take place behind our backs and supposedly in absolute secrecy,” Caldicott said.
The recent revelations that the CIA and top Trump administration officials had seriously considered kidnapping or even killing Assange was consistent with how his fearless integrity had exposed and outraged them, Caldicott noted.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law Professor Emerita and former National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn added that WikiLeaks’ 2010-2011 revelations of war crimes that the United States committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo were critically important to understand.
It was the publication of CIA hacking tools known as “Vault 7” that incurred the wrath of former CIA director Mike Pompeo, who called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” Cohn told Sputnik.
“But the recent revelations of Pompeo’s threats against Assange… will hopefully shine a light on the dangers the national security state poses to investigative journalism,” Cohn added.