Ten years ago, WikiLeaks published the “Afghan War Diaries”

Designer Vivienne Westwood, July 21, in a performance in support of Julian Assange in court in London.

“Free Julian Assange” : Tuesday July 21, the fashion designer and figure of the punk movement Vivienne Westwood appeared, disguised as a canary, in front of a court in London, to demand an end to the lawsuits against the creator of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. While WikiLeaks celebrates the tenth anniversary this Saturday, July 25 of the “Afghan war diaries”, the first major publication of confidential documents of the American army, the fate of its main founder is more than ever uncertain.

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Mr Assange, sick and weak, is still being held in Belmarsh prison near London pending the outcome of his extradition trial. The United States wants to try the founder of WikiLeaks on a series of eighteen charges, seventeen of which fall under the Espionage Act, a particularly severe law, initially adopted by the United States to condemn the acts of intelligence with the enemy during the First World War. Previously, he had spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London; Julien Assange denounced the demands of the Swedish justice system, which sought to hear him as a witness in a case of sexual assault and rape, as a manipulation aimed at extraditing him to the United States.

Read also US steps up accusations against Julian Assange

Afghan and Iraqi “war diaries”

The bulk of the charges are now time barred, but Mr Assange was arrested in 2019 when the Ecuadorian embassy withdrew his support for violating his conditional release conditions in the UK. The United States is now directly calling for his extradition to stand trial for the publication of confidential documents. What its supporters, such as press freedom organizations, denounce as a dangerous precedent – “To accuse him of espionage for his work is to pose a serious threat to journalism”, thus declared, in February, Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders. The next hearing, postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is to be held on September 7.

Read also Julian Assange faces British justice to try to escape extradition to the United States

If, over the years, Mr. Assange lost some of his initial support, especially after the publication in the middle of the electoral campaign and in still unclear conditions of emails from the National Committee of the Democratic Party in 2016, the “war diaries afghans ”was a world first on many levels. The posting of these 90,000 or so reports of American soldiers on the ground, some innocuous, others rich in information, had shed new light on the war waged by the United States on Afghan soil and its failures. – despite the absence of shattering revelations.

The publication had aroused the anger of the US military, but also of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who criticized the organization for endangering US military informants, whose names appeared in the documents.

Read also What the “Afghan War Diaries” Reveal

From prison for Chelsea Manning

Published in partnership with the Guardian, the New York Times and the Spiegel, the Afghan documents had been followed, in October 2010, by the publication of several hundred thousand reports of the American army in Iraq, in partnership with these media and others, including The world. The 400,000 reports, which covered six years of occupation by the US military, contained a great deal of information, particularly on the heavy toll paid by Iraqi civilians.

Read also Iraq: the ordinary horror revealed by Wikileaks

On the day the “Afghan War Diaries” were published, their source was already in jail: Chelsea Manning (then called Bradley Manning), an analyst for the US military, was arrested three weeks earlier for providing WikiLeaks with his all. World’s first scoop, a video showing an American helicopter opening fire on civilians in the suburbs of Baghdad and published in April. Chelsea Manning will be sentenced in 2013 to thirty-five years in prison. His sentence will be commuted in 2017 by US President Barack Obama three days before the end of his last term.

Her release will only last two years: in March 2019, she was again incarcerated for contempt, after refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating the charges against Julian Assange. She was finally released in March 2020, after a suicide attempt and an intense campaign to mobilize her supporters.

Read also Former WikiLeaks informant Chelsea Manning released from prison

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