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With Julian Assange facing extradition to the United States, we’ll likely be hearing more about his case and see more protests around the world very soon. His legal battle against extradition from the UK to the United States has been winding its way through the British courts for months. If he’s brought to the United States, the WikiLeaks founder faces a sentence of 175 years for charges that include 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act.
In case you’re a little fuzzy on Assange’s convoluted path to date, recall that most of us first heard about him after WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of sensitive and classified documents in 2010 — some of which documented torture, killings and other war crimes carried out by the United States. Needless to say, Assange was not well received by the U.S. intelligence community.
Crucially, Assange’s case is not just about one man. It is also about news outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian, which published scores of stories based on information they were given by WikiLeaks. It was clearly a collaboration, yet only one guy is sitting in a British jail and facing a life sentence in the United States.
We might not always like or agree with people who become symbols of press freedom, but that freedom is essential to who we are as a nation.