Is Julian Assange’s arrest a fatal blow to free journalism?

The Julian Assange case is a morally tangled web. For many of his followers, Julian is a trailblazing hero. Someone who exposes information that never should have been hidden, despite mounting personal risks from powerful states and their instruments. To his foes, Julian is a criminal for hurting international diplomacy by exposing documents that jeopardise international relations.

The Julian Assange saga

Is Julian Assange’s arrest a fatal blow to free journalism?

Love him or hate him, Julian Assange and his crusade against state confidentiality have somewhat topped the news for the past seven to ten years since he took refuge in Ecuador Embassy in the UK skipping bail. He was charged with a sexual harassment case and faced extradition to Sweden, which had later been dropped. Over the time period of seven years, Ecuador’s stance on Julian’s asylum has grown colder due to various reasons. It took its hardest fall when Wikileaks started exposing personal accounts of Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno. A week ago Moreno said that Assange was violating the terms of his asylum by being involved in Wikileaks and its operations. What followed was an invitation of The Scotland Yard to the Ecuador Embassy earlier yesterday and the arrest of Julian Assange according to UK laws.

Wikileaks and its lone crusade

Julian Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006 with a goal of exposing confidential information. Wikileaks hit the news four years later when it exposed video footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq. Since then Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange had sparked countless debates on both sides of the moral compass. Veteran newspapers like The Guardian have expressed their different viewpoints with Julian’s ideology of believing in publishing stories that should not be published. At the same time, liberal media has portrayed Julian Assange as a messianic figure of sorts in this age of information.

An antagonist? Not yet

Is Julian Assange’s arrest a fatal blow to free journalism?

“Information should be free” is a popular term. But it covers a substantial amount of moral grey area when a bigger perspective comes into play.

Julian Assange might be an antagonist in the diplomatic books of many states but he is no criminal.

The convoluted mess of all the charges brought against him will require time and effort to untangle. The debate of absolute right and absolute wrong will stretch to further lengths in this particular case and this arrest will lead him to face charges for skipping bail under the UK laws. But extraditing him to the US will certainly be a dark day for free journalism.