On Thursday, police officers arrested Julian Assange after forcibly removing him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been holed up for nearly seven years. This occurred after Ecuador revoked Assange’s political asylum. He now faces multple criminal charges in the UK, Sweden, and the US; the latter is seeking his extradition for the Wikileaks release of classified information about US war atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Forensic Architecture, the international-justice research group based at Goldsmiths and headed by Eyal Weizman, has released a statement on Assange’s arrest. Acknowledging that Assange is far from an “unproblematic” figure, the statement denounces his arrest as a threat to the “right to publish true and newsworthy information” that exposes government crimes and corruption. The statement, copied in full from the Forensic Architecture website, is below.
Forensic Architecture notes with grave concern today’s arrest of Julian Assange at the Embassy of Ecuador in London.
The pioneering work of Wikileaks shattered every established paradigm of public interest journalism, and ushered in a new era of investigative reporting. Forensic Architecture’s work, and the work of journalists, activists, and investigative agencies around the world, is done in the shadow of the tremendous sacrifices made by Julian and others in the pursuit of radical transparency.
We would not pretend that the life and legacy of Julian and his organisation are unproblematic, and we do not intend to be hagiographic. But Wikileaks have made enemies through their work, and some of those enemies have at their disposal the tools of law, and we should be in no doubt that those tools are being deployed to protect the mechanisms and apparatus that Julian’s work has repeatedly exposed.
We see this clearly in the continued detention of Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower who risked her freedom to shine a vital and uncompromising light on the ‘forever wars’ in Iraq and Afghanistan. We stand also in solidarity with Chelsea, and call for her immediate release.
Wikileaks is a publisher, and we defend unequivocally their right to publish true and newsworthy information. Publishing such information is never a crime, and any attempts to extradite or prosecute individuals or organisations on such a basis, threatens all journalists and publishers, and constitutes an attack on the fundamental right of any society to a free press.
Image of Assange arrest via the Times of Israel.