Justice for Julian Assange should be tempered with mercy

Once upon a time, WikiLeaks, the subversive organisation set up by Julian Assange, did some valuable work in the name of openness.

It exposed the Trafigura scandal of the dumping of toxic waste in Africa. From there WikiLeaks moved on to dumping diplomatic secrets online indiscriminately, which mostly embarrassed Middle Eastern leaders who didn’t want their urging of US action against Iran’s nuclear ambitions known. And then WikiLeaks appeared to be entangled in Russian interests, which ended up with its being considered party to interference in the American election – on the side of the authoritarian right.

The above is a paragraph from an editorial in The Independent five years ago. We were resolutely unsympathetic to Mr Assange’s claim to have been unfairly treated by the British and Swedish criminal justice systems. We urged him to face justice over the allegations of rape in Sweden, and considered his self-imprisonment in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to be a form of punishment for his refusal to do so.


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