DiscoverThe NPR Politics PodcastJulian Assange, Who Twice Upended Politics, Accepts Plea Deal
Julian Assange, Who Twice Upended Politics, Accepts Plea Deal

Julian Assange, Who Twice Upended Politics, Accepts Plea Deal

Update: 2024-06-253
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The NPR Politics podcast discusses the plea deal reached between Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and the US government. Assange is pleading guilty to one charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose information related to national defense, stemming from his alleged collaboration with former Army private Chelsea Manning. The deal comes after years of legal battles and international scrutiny, with Assange facing 18 charges initially. The podcast explores the history of WikiLeaks, highlighting its role in publishing classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a video of US service members shooting civilians. The episode also delves into the White House's involvement, with President Biden previously stating that the US was considering Australia's request to drop the prosecution. However, the White House has confirmed that the plea deal was solely a decision made by the Department of Justice. The podcast further examines the timing of the plea deal, noting that Assange has already served a significant amount of time in a British prison awaiting extradition. The episode concludes by discussing the political implications of the plea deal, particularly in light of Trump's previous statements about potentially pardoning Assange. The podcast highlights the differing perspectives on Assange's actions, with some viewing him as a journalist exposing government wrongdoing while others consider him a threat to national security.

Outlines

00:00:00
Alyssa's Day at the Volleyball Tournament

This Chapter introduces Alyssa, who is on her way to a volleyball tournament. She mentions the date and time of the recording, June 25th, 2024, at 12:36 pm Eastern Time. Alyssa expresses her excitement for the day, anticipating fun and sunshine with her friends.

00:00:40
Julian Assange Plea Deal: A Long-Running Saga Ends

This Chapter delves into the news of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, reaching a plea deal with the US government. The podcast discusses the charges against Assange, his alleged collaboration with Chelsea Manning, and the sensitive documents he published, including war reports and State Department cables. The episode explores the White House's involvement and the timing of the plea deal, highlighting Assange's lengthy imprisonment in the UK awaiting extradition.

00:05:23
The Politics of Leaks and the Trump Administration's Influence

This Chapter examines the political implications of the Assange plea deal, particularly in light of the Trump administration's stance on leaks and leakers. The podcast discusses the Obama administration's decision not to charge Assange, the Trump administration's shift in policy, and the concerns raised by press freedom groups about the precedent set by charging Assange. The episode also explores Trump's previous statements about potentially pardoning Assange, highlighting the complex political landscape surrounding the case.

Keywords

Julian Assange
Julian Assange is an Australian-born activist and journalist known for founding WikiLeaks, a website that publishes classified information. He gained international notoriety in 2010 for releasing thousands of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, exposing sensitive information about US military operations. Assange's actions have been both praised and criticized, with some viewing him as a whistleblower exposing government wrongdoing and others considering him a threat to national security. He has faced numerous legal challenges and spent years in legal battles, including a period of asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In 2023, he reached a plea deal with the US government, ending a long-running saga over the release of classified documents.

WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks is a non-profit organization that publishes classified media provided by anonymous sources. It was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange and has gained international attention for its role in releasing sensitive information, including diplomatic cables, military reports, and financial records. WikiLeaks has been praised for exposing government corruption and wrongdoing, but it has also been criticized for its potential to compromise national security and endanger individuals. The organization has faced numerous legal challenges and controversies, including accusations of hacking and espionage. WikiLeaks' activities have sparked debates about freedom of information, government transparency, and the role of whistleblowers in a democratic society.

Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning is a former US Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of espionage and theft for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010. Manning provided WikiLeaks with a vast trove of classified documents, including war logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic cables, and a video of a US helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq. Manning's actions sparked a debate about whistleblowing, freedom of information, and the role of the military in a democratic society. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison but was later pardoned by President Barack Obama. Manning has since become a prominent advocate for transparency and accountability in government.

National Security
National security refers to the protection of a nation's interests from threats, both internal and external. It encompasses a wide range of issues, including military defense, intelligence gathering, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism. National security policies are often controversial, as they involve balancing the need for security with the protection of individual rights and freedoms. The concept of national security is constantly evolving in response to new threats and challenges, such as cyberattacks, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the press is a fundamental right that guarantees the ability of journalists and media outlets to report on news and events without censorship or interference from the government. It is considered essential for a democratic society, as it allows for the free flow of information and holds those in power accountable. Freedom of the press is often challenged by governments seeking to control information or suppress dissent. The right to freedom of the press is enshrined in international law and is protected by national constitutions in many countries.

Government Transparency
Government transparency refers to the principle that government actions and decisions should be open to public scrutiny. It involves making information about government activities, policies, and spending readily available to the public. Transparency is considered essential for accountability, as it allows citizens to hold their elected officials responsible for their actions. It also promotes public trust in government by ensuring that citizens are informed about how their government operates. Transparency can be achieved through various mechanisms, such as freedom of information laws, open meetings, and public access to government data.

Whistleblowing
Whistleblowing is the act of exposing wrongdoing or illegal activities within an organization, often by an employee or former employee. Whistleblowers can play a vital role in holding organizations accountable and protecting the public interest. However, whistleblowers often face retaliation and legal challenges for their actions. The protection of whistleblowers is a critical issue in many countries, as it is essential for ensuring that wrongdoing is exposed and addressed.

Espionage
Espionage is the practice of spying or gathering secret information, often for the benefit of a foreign government or organization. It can involve a variety of activities, such as surveillance, infiltration, and the theft of classified documents. Espionage is considered a serious crime in most countries, as it can threaten national security and undermine international relations. Espionage cases often involve complex legal and political issues, as they raise questions about the balance between national security and individual rights.

Pardoning
Pardoning is the act of granting forgiveness for a crime, often by a head of state or government. It can involve reducing or eliminating a sentence, or completely absolving a person of guilt. Pardons are often granted on grounds of mercy, justice, or public interest. The power to pardon is a controversial one, as it can be used to overturn judicial decisions or grant clemency to individuals who have committed serious crimes. The decision to pardon is often based on a variety of factors, including the nature of the crime, the offender's remorse, and the potential impact on public safety.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump is an American politician, businessman, and media personality who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump's presidency was marked by controversy and division, with his policies and rhetoric often sparking protests and criticism. He is known for his populist and nationalist views, his use of social media, and his unconventional approach to politics. Trump's presidency has had a significant impact on American politics and society, and his legacy continues to be debated.

Q&A

  • What was the plea deal reached between Julian Assange and the US government?

    Julian Assange pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose information related to national defense, stemming from his alleged collaboration with former Army private Chelsea Manning. This plea deal resolved a long-running saga over the release of classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • What role did Chelsea Manning play in the events leading to Assange's plea deal?

    Chelsea Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, provided WikiLeaks with a vast trove of classified documents, including war logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic cables, and a video of a US helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq. This information was allegedly shared with Assange, leading to the conspiracy charge he pleaded guilty to.

  • What was the White House's involvement in the plea deal decision?

    The White House has confirmed that the plea deal was solely a decision made by the Department of Justice, with no White House involvement. This contradicts President Biden's previous statement that the US was considering Australia's request to drop the prosecution of Assange.

  • Why did the charges against Assange take so long to be brought?

    The Obama administration initially decided not to charge Assange, as they couldn't determine a clear distinction between his actions and those of major news organizations. However, the Trump administration took a different approach, declaring a war on leaks and leakers, ultimately leading to Assange's indictment in Virginia.

  • What are the political implications of the Assange plea deal?

    The plea deal has sparked debate about the balance between national security and freedom of the press. Some view Assange as a journalist exposing government wrongdoing, while others consider him a threat to national security. The episode also highlights the differing perspectives on Assange's actions, with some viewing him as a whistleblower exposing government wrongdoing while others consider him a threat to national security.

  • How did Trump's stance on Assange differ from the Obama administration's?

    The Obama administration decided not to charge Assange, while the Trump administration took a more aggressive approach, declaring a war on leaks and leakers, ultimately leading to Assange's indictment in Virginia. Trump has also made statements about potentially pardoning Assange, further highlighting the complex political landscape surrounding the case.

  • What are the concerns raised by press freedom groups about the Assange case?

    Press freedom groups, such as the ACLU, have expressed concern that charging Assange sets a dangerous precedent for other news organizations. They argue that exposing government secrets in the public interest is a core function of journalism and that charging Assange could make it more difficult for reporters to do their jobs.

  • What role did WikiLeaks play in the 2016 US presidential election?

    WikiLeaks released thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016, which some believe suggested efforts to undermine Bernie Sanders' campaign. US intelligence agencies later concluded that Russia was behind the hack of these emails.

  • What is the current political landscape surrounding Assange and his actions?

    The political landscape surrounding Assange is complex and divided. Some view him as a hero for exposing government wrongdoing, while others consider him a threat to national security. The Trump administration's stance on leaks and leakers, as well as Trump's previous statements about potentially pardoning Assange, further complicate the issue.

Show Notes

Julian Assange, who has long been imprisoned in the United Kingdom, has agreed to plead guilty to a U.S. felony and will return to his native Australia. His WikiLeaks organization's 2010 publication of military secrets helped to reshape public understanding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group later released private Democratic National Committee emails that the U.S. government says were obtained via a Russian cyberattack, as part of that government's effort to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

This episode: voting correspondent Ashley Lopez, national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, and White House correspondent Asma Khalid.

The podcast is produced by Jeongyoon Han, Casey Morell and Kelli Wessinger. Our intern is Bria Suggs. Our editor is Eric McDaniel. Our executive producer is Muthoni Muturi.

Listen to every episode of the NPR Politics Podcast sponsor-free, unlock access to bonus episodes with more from the NPR Politics team, and support public media when you sign up for The NPR Politics Podcast+ at plus.npr.org/politics.

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Comments (1)

rshackleford53

his name was Seth Rich

Jun 25th
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Julian Assange, Who Twice Upended Politics, Accepts Plea Deal

Julian Assange, Who Twice Upended Politics, Accepts Plea Deal