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Julian Assange, Game Theory and the Battle for Democracy and Freedom of the Press

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Q. Lewis, I’m beginning to read the news daily as you suggested. I’m shocked at how little I know about important issues that can affect my life. This guy, Julian Assange seems to be trending pretty heavily. Who is he and why are events connected to him so important?

A. Julian Paul Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organization Sunshine Press, claimed in 2015 to have released online 10 million documents in its first 10 years. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and Cablegate (November 2010). All events conducted by the US government, the military, and or the intelligence services that likely violated international law. After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, Assange will be in court again, for the resumption of proceedings that will ultimately decide on the Trump administration’s request for his extradition to the US.

Here is a quote from Al Jazeera about why this is so important.

“…it is not just Assange that will be in the dock. Beside him will sit the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right of access to information. Silence this one man, and the US and its accomplices will gag others, spreading fear of persecution and prosecution over a global media community already under assault in the US and in many other countries worldwide.

The stakes really are that high. If the United Kingdom extradites Assange, he would face prosecution in the US on espionage charges that could send him to prison for decades – possibly in a facility reserved for the highest security detainees and subjected to the strictest of daily regimes, including prolonged solitary confinement. All for doing something news editors do the world over – publishing public interest information provided by sources.

Indeed, President Donald Trump has called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” and said its actions in publishing classified information should carry the death penalty.

Supporters of Assange believe he has been unfairly harassed in many was. Examples include.

  • In November 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, after questioning him months earlier about allegations of sexual assault. Assange denied the allegations and said they were a pretext for him to be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents.
  • Based on that international arrest warrant Assange surrendered to UK police on 7 December 2010, but was released on bail within ten days. Having been unsuccessful in his challenge to the extradition proceedings, he breached his £340,000 bail in June 2012 and took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London.
  • He was granted asylum by Ecuador due to fears of political persecution and extradition to the United States. Assange remained in the Embassy of Ecuador in London for almost seven years.
  • In January 2018, he was granted Ecuadorian citizenship.  On 11 April 2019, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn following a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities. The police were invited into the embassy, and he was arrested. Later that day, he was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and on 1 May 2019, he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in the United Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Is Assange The Center of So Much Attention?

During the 2016 US Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks hosted emails sent or received by candidate Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. The U.S. Intelligence Community, as well as a Special Counsel investigation, concluded that the Russian government carried out a hacking campaign as part of broader efforts to interfere in the 2016 United States elections. In 2018, twelve Russian intelligence officers, mostly affiliated with the GRU, were indicted on criminal charges by Special Counsel Robert Mueller; the indictment charged the Russians with carrying out the computer hacking and working with WikiLeaks and other organisations to spread stolen documents. Assange has consistently denied any connection to or co-operation with Russia in relation to the leaks, and accused the Clinton campaign of stoking “a neo-McCarthy hysteria“.

On the same day, the United States government unsealed an indictment against Assange for alleged computer intrusion, related to the leaks provided by Chelsea Manning. On 23 May 2019, the United States government further charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Editors from newspapers including The Washington Post and The New York Times criticized the government’s decision to charge Assange under the Espionage Act. After having been dropped in 2017, Swedish prosecutors reopened their investigation in May 2019, but in November closed it again, saying that the evidence had weakened over time. Assange is incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh, reportedly in ill health.

Is Assange a hero? Is the U.S. Government evil?  Is he being oppressed, suppressed, repressed? Is the free world as we know it on the verge of collapse? The answer to any of these questions is the same. “Yes“, ”No”, “Both”, “Neither”, “Maybe”.

It all depends on your perspective. Still, it is hard to have a clear perspective if you don’t bother gathering data, and using critical thinking to determine whether that data is evidence-based or just fake news.

Still, keep this in mind – whether Assange is a hero or villain or a little of both if he is extradited it will have far-reaching human rights implications. Here we will have a dangerous precedent that will put a smile on every despot and authoritarian regime in the world. It will remove protections for those who publish leaked or classified information that is in the public interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publishing such information is a foundation of media freedom and the public’s right to access information. It must never be criminalized. Rather, it must be protected, whether you are a leftist or politically to the right. Without information, any conspiracy theory can be promoted as fact. Is this the kind of world you want to live in?

My thoughts on Assange from a game theory perspective. He had a great strategy but lousy tactics. He lost control of his environment (the game space). This is the biggest “No, no” for someone playing the game he was. He changed the rules in the middle of the game but never told his teammates that that was happening. Nor did he get his team-mates on board. There were too many loose pieces to his puzzle and they were bound to fall into the hands of his adversaries. He should have known better but got arrogant.

          Lewis

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If you want to explore these ideas in greater depth you may want to place any of the following trending tags in your Google search line:

The wikileaks latest news today is,  some believe there is a strong wikileaks Russia connection, There have not been any new wikileaks but that has not reduced the impact of the old ones, Julian Assange the creator of wikileaks, Is wikileaks reliable?, To see how much this story has been trending all one need to is Google: dnc wikileak, Hillary Clinton wikileaks, or Chelsea Manning wikileaks, Edward Snowdon wikileaks, what is holistic applied game theory, One of the questions often asked is, is wikileaks legal?

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