Hero. Traitor. Crusader. Criminal. Journalist. Rogue. The many conflicting words people use in reference to the enigmatic Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are legion. Following his forced removal from the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K., people from all corners of the media have either rejoiced with contemptuous schadenfreude or mourned in regretful sorrow.
Over at Fox News, Judge Andrew Napolitano openly hailed the Wikileaks founder a “hero” for using his organization to publish information the “world had the right to see.”
“I have to tell you, in my opinion, Julian Assange is a hero,” said Napolitano on “Fox & Friends.” “What he published was truthful information that the American public and the world had the right to see.”
Napolitano said that Assange will likely have a “show trial” if brought to the United States. Undoubtedly, he will be asked how he obtained emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign, though Napolitano believes Assange will simply say: “‘I’m not going to tell you how I got Hillary Clinton’s emails, but I got them and we published them.'”
On Thursday, British authorities entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London to arrest Assange, who had been granted political asylum in 2012. The U.S. put in an extradition request in 2017 for Assange for his having allegedly conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack U.S. government databases in order to publish sensitive information. The underlying indictment states that, “in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.”
“Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks,” the indictment continued. “Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.”
Relations between Assange and the Ecuadorian government had become strained in recent years, especially in the wake of the 2016 election, when Wikileaks published damaging emails from the DNC showing that the organization colluded with the media to rig the primary election against Bernie Sanders to secure Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination. Prior to Assange’s arrest, Ecuador announced it had withdrawn his asylum for “repeatedly violating international conventions and protocol.”
In 2018, Ecuador cut off Assange’s WiFi access in an attempt to curtail him from interfering in other countries’ affairs. According to the BBC, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Assange’s questioning “accusations that Moscow was responsible for the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in the UK.” The Ecuadorian government viewed Assange’s move as something that could endanger their relations with the United Kingdom.
“The measure was adopted in the face of Assange’s failure to comply with a written commitment he assumed with the government at the end of 2017, under which he was obliged not to issue messages that would interfere with other states,” the Ecuadorian government said in a statement at the time.