WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Wikileaks was founded in 2006 by activist and computer hacker, Julian Assange. According to the U.S. Sun, in May of 2019, he was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and was sentenced to 50 weeks in a prison in the United Kingdom. The US government also unsealed an indictment against Assange for alleged computer intrusion, related to the leaks provided by former Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. Towards the end of May, the US government also charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. More recently, his U.S. extradition case has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Assange spent time in the HM Prison Belmarsh in the U.K after his embassy in London abruptly ended. Megan Specia of the New York Times states that if Assange is found guilty for every charge, he is expected to face 175 years in prison.
The conflict around Wikileaks stems from complications surrounding the First Amendment. Should the organization be allowed to leak classified information and is it a violation of the First Amendment if not? Political revolution in multiple foreign countries have been caused in part by Wikileaks.
For example, there were protests in Tunisia because food prices were rising, there was corruption in the government and ruling family, and staggering unemployment, and Wikileaks was a catalyst. According to Foreign Policy, a lack of freedom of expression and Wikileaks being blocked by authorities was a main reason for these 2011 protests. Wikileaks is believed to be both a trigger and a tool for political outcry in this situation in Tunisia. This conflict in Tunisia surrounding Wikileaks is considered the “First Wikileaks Revolution.”
As online content, especially through Wikileaks and Twitter, sparks political conflict around the world and the partisan divide becomes more prominent, here’s what we can expect for the future of Wikileaks and political revolution.
- The relationship between federal power, media, and citizenship will never be the same.
- Media and the Government will either be forced to release information and report truthful information or division will grow.
- Distrust is expected to increase more that it already is.
- Arguments around Wikileaks and the First Amendment will continue and could grow worse.
There is already so much political division in the world right now, especially in the United States, following the recent election. Supporters of Wikileaks tend to lean pretty far right on the political spectrum and continued false and debunked allegations of voter fraud could get worse if Wikileaks releases any information. Founder, Julian Assange, was involved in the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton’s email situation, so it would not be surprising if Wikileaks became involved again, even if Assange is currently being tried. I do believe there will be more political division in the future, however, I do not think there will be a “Second Wikileaks Revolution.”
Information Courtesy of CNN, The New York Times, and Foreign Policy