Those who have followed my blog know that I have frequently commented on the Julian Assange affair, mostly -- but not exclusively -- on demand. Those comments have generally related to issues connected to the Swedish rape investigations, which were discontinued in 2017. (I did not have an opinion on the substance of the charges as such, but I claimed that there was no reason to believe that it would be easier to extradite Assange from Sweden than from the UK. Today’s events appear to corroborate that.)
Now that Assange has been apprehended by British police, I have very mixed feelings.
I feel genuinely sorry for him. Seven years in the embassy of Ecuador have not been kind to him.
Wikileaks has published, and helped publish, very important information, including on war crimes seemingly committed by US troops in Iraq. That has been an important service to the general public. Even though these acts might legally be criminal, I think that they are clearly justified from a moral point of view. If all of Wikileaks’ publications had been morally right, I would have added my voice to those who think that Assange should be released (on moral or political grounds).
However, Wikileaks has also made massive and completely indiscriminate publications of material that is, or would seem to be, detrimental to legitimate security interests of States and of individuals. While some publications of this nature might, on balance, be justified by countervailing moral interests, that has certainly not been the case for all the leaks.