WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a hero. Like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and other whistleblowers facing government persecution, Assange has sacrificed his personal comfort and safety to bring us the truth.
George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know that powerful institutions have been abusing their power and lying to the public. For example, redacted State Department communications published by WikiLeaks revealed that Secretary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as a leading funding source for terrorist groups around the time she approved a whopping $29 billion arms deal with the Saudi dictatorship.
WikiLeaks courageously published the infamous “Collateral Murder” video showing an American helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians, Viewed over 15 million times on Youtube alone, it revealed just one of the many shocking war crimes whitewashed as “collateral damage” by the US government.
WikiLeaks’ stunning revelations of how top Democratic National Committee officials conspired to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, in collusion with the media, shattered the illusion of a fair electoral process and confirmed what millions Americans already knew in their gut: we live under a rigged political system.
What WikiLeaks actually does — to political parties, the military, and other powerful entities — is pull back the curtain of censorship, spin, and deception to show the public what’s really going on. Unlike pundits in the mainstream media, WikiLeaks doesn’t tell us what to think. They invite us to read the emails, watch the footage, and decide for ourselves.
The political and economic elite, used to controlling information, see this unprecedented transparency as a tremendous threat. They have mercilessly persecuted a series of heroic whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning, convicted of leaking the Collateral Murder video among other revealing materials, was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison.
Manning, a transgender woman, has been subjected to treatment that the UN described as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” in violation of the Convention Against Torture. Shockingly, after a recent suicide attempt, Manning faces disciplinary charges that could land her in indefinite solitary confinement.
The security state would like to make an example of Assange, as it has done to Manning and others. In fact, the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. And the persecution of whistleblowers is often accompanied by ruthless character assassination to discredit them.
Many have asked how Greens, who count feminism among our ten key values, can support Assange when he’s been accused of rape. As a strong advocate for victims of sexual violence, I take this question seriously.
While countless media reports highlight the allegations against Assange, most people have never heard that an official UN report has declared the case against Assange to be unfounded. Three investigations have been dropped without charges ever having been filed. And the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has stated that Assange has been unlawfully detained and should be released. In light of these facts, it appears the allegations against Assange were a false pretext used by those who want to give him the Chelsea Manning treatment — or worse.
As the Presidential candidate of a party that has maintained principled criticism of powerful political, military and corporate institutions, I’ve gotten a first—hand look at how the establishment attacks people who challenge the status quo. These attacks are intended to brand their targets as pariahs and stigmatize anyone who dares to challenge this narrative. The truth is a frequent casualty to political vendettas.
On that note, one of the strangest developments this year has been seeing journalists attack WikiLeaks for doing what journalists are supposed to do: reveal the unvarnished truth to the public. WikiLeaks has done us an invaluable service by shining a light into the dark corners of power where corruption and wrongdoing fester.
The economic and political elite have targeted Assange not because his hands are dirty, but because he’s given us a glimpse of how dirty their own hands are. WikiLeaks’ revelations are inspiring countless people to mobilize against corruption and wrongdoing at the highest levels, and for that, Julian Assange is a hero in my book.
Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for President.
Published at TheHill