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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

WikiLeaks: Manning and Assange under prosecution

The whistleblower media site WikiLeaks is continuing to run into legal problems as it exposes high-profile, classified material. Currently, Chief Editor Julian Assange is being prosecuted for molestation and rape in Sweden, while Bradley Manning is being detained for releasing confidential information to the site. Active since 2007, the Web site has become well-known for its publication of anonymous documents containing sensitive information. In the past, it has shared information with The New York Times, The Guardian, and the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, states the WikiLeaks Web site.

WikiLeaks has made enemies, and the originally British site is now having difficulty finding a home base.

Rape claims against Julian Assange
WikiLeaks Chief Editor Julian Assange submitted his petition to work and reside in Sweden in late August, according to international news agency AFP. Assange had looked to establish a base in Sweden due to their laws protecting the press and whistleblower associations, said The New York Times. Shortly after his appeal, however, two women charged him with allegations of rape and molestation.

According to AFP, a warrant issued for Assange’s arrest was retracted within 24 hours, as prosecutor Eva Finne closed the case, stating, “New information had come to light.”

According to ABC News, the case has been re-opened by chief prosecutor Marianne Ny. Charges of “sexual coercion and sexual molestation” are also a possibility along with molestation, which could result in up to a year in prison.

Assange declared his innocence and called the charges “baseless and disturbing” in the Wall Street Journal. “I am losing my confidence in the Swedish justice system,” he said, after claiming that he had little time to present his side of the story.

“This was a smear because it is not true,” Assange told Swedish TV4 in an interview. “That doesn’t mean that intelligence agencies are behind this, nor does it mean they are not behind it, nor does it mean . . . for other reasons that they are not capitalizing on it.”

Bradley Manning’s Mental Health
According to The New York Times, Army Private First-Class Bradley Manning has recently been accused of leaking over 200,000 classified intelligence reports and diplomatic cables involving the war in Afghanistan, including one video. The video showed an American helicopter attack where 11 civilians were killed, including two Reuters reporters.

After bragging of his accomplishment to former computer hacker Adrian Lamo, Manning was detained in Kuwait, reported The New York Times. According to the Associated Press, Manning is currently in solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia under suicide watch.

The army has been running mental health tests on the private to see if he understood his actions. Manning’s attorney David E. Coombs wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press that the results of these tests will determine whether his client will stand trial for the allegations that could send him to prison for 52 years.

Reactions to Manning’s actions vary.
Guilford Visiting Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan said that Manning ought to be “horse-whipped” for breaking his oath of confidentiality and “putting American lives in danger.”
The Bradley Manning Support Group, however, is rallying strong, with over 10,000 supporters on Facebook and numerous prominent individuals and organizations.

Michael Moore has joined the support group, rewarding the private for doing a “courageous thing and a patriotic thing” by donating $5,000 for his defense, reported BBC News.

On their website, the group urges people to “take to the streets” for the Days of Action from Sept. 16-19. On these days, “groups and individuals will call on the United States government to drop the charges” against Manning.

WikiLeaks has ignited many debates, but it continues to operate under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

Duncan, however, said that the public does not have the right to know all that is going on with the government.
“Should the military briefings be made on CNN?” said Duncan. “There are only certain things the public has the need to know.”
Regardless of the varying opinions of WikiLeaks’ ethics or legality, its presence has and will continue to be a force in U.S. politics.

This July, WikiLeaks posted over 70,000 classified military documents on the war in Afghanistan, and another release is soon to come.

According to Newsweek, Iain Overton, editor of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, said the material that WikiLeaks is now planning to release will be the “biggest leak of military intelligence.

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