How Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning's freedom shatters United States' hypocrisy and lies

Rape case against the WikiLeaks founder has been dropped, while the whistleblower has been finally set free after serving seven years in US prison.

 |  4-minute read |   19-05-2017
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They took it upon themselves to expose the might of the United States of America and paid a heavy price for it. Julian Assange, that feral prophet of internet freedom, and Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, can finally feel vindicated, and in Manning’s case, celebrate her liberty at last, as they enjoy this moment of glory.

Chelsea Manning, who served seven of 35 years in the US prison for ferrying out classified US files exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, finally walked to her freedom and out of the US jail after a release order signed by former US President Barack Obama came into effect on May 18.

The world breathed a sigh of relief as this glorious heroine of digital democracy and dissent walked into the sunset in one piece, despite being charged with espionage under US law and sentenced to life, much of it solitary confinement:

Manning tweeted:

As #ChelseaIsFree trended worldwide, Twitter erupted in joy and welcomed Manning with open arms. She put out this picture of her, ready to face the world, happy and free.

On May 19, Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape charges against WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, which were brought against him by a plaintiff who attended a seminar with him in Stockholm, in 2010. Prosecutor Marriane Ny said his European Arrest warrant was being revoked as it was “impossible to serve him notice” at the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been confined since 2012.

Assange feared that if he were arrested by Swedish police on (what he said were trumped up) rape charges, he would be immediately extradited to the United States and tried for espionage and waging war against America. For a good length of time, Julian Assange and later Edward Snowden (who leaked the NSA files on the agency’s illegal surveillance on foreign powers) were the most wanted men in the US, just short of being deemed terrorists.

Assange, who has been represented by top human rights' lawyers, including the British-Lebanese barrister Amal Clooney, posted an angry tweet after the news of the Swedish prosecutor withdrawing the rape charges came about.

But as his earlier tweet, with a smiling face, indicates, the transparency crusader and one of the prime players in the current US-Russia, Trump-Putin imbroglio, is more than happy that he stands vindicated after spending five years confined to the Ecuadorean embassy, without stepping into the sun even once.

Though the seven-year legal stand-off has come to an end, the Swedish prosecutor has said that in case Assange does travel to Sweden before or by August 2020, when the statute for the case expires, he could still be arrested.

Assange, on his part, has decided to seek political exile in Emmanuel Macron’s France, which has just witnessed a landmark election, voting in the 39-year-old president who has been hailed as the new champion of progressive politics.

asange-copy_051917092136.jpg[Photo: Reuters]

Both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange have paid too dear a price for their fearless contributions towards a more transparent and accountable world. While Assange has reconfigured journalism altogether, with WikiLeaks changing and moulding data-driven hardcore investigative reportage and showing America its distorted face in the mirror, Manning has beholden to the greater moral call of duty towards her country, and not to the government in power.

Exposing the abuses of American military in Iraq and Afghanistan had a domino effect on American politics, which led to the election of Barack Obama, an anti-Iraq War candidate, in 2008. Assange and Manning transformed the world and awoke it to the hypocrisies of post-9/11 America.

Their respective freedoms today are truly a cause for celebration everywhere. It remains to be seen whether Snowden's case sees a similar triumph — and whether he too gets a presidential pardon and is able to return to live a relatively normal life.

Also read: 100 days of Trump made America great again

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