In 2011, I was invited to speak at a Rally for Information Freedom in New York City. I was invited by Barrett Brown, who was later sentenced to 63 months in prison for aiding hackers and obstructing authorities (he had faced up to 105 years); the media dubbed him “spokesman” for the hacker collective Anonymous. I spoke in defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who helped disseminate secret tapes of atrocities committed by U.S. forces in the Middle East.
The Lord of Flies nestled within America’s intelligence establishment decided Mr. Assange must pay. He fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for sanctuary. Seven years later, he was arrested by British police.
A real-life Robin Hood, a Neo from “The Matrix,” Mr. Assange follows the path of Geronimo and H. Rap Brown. He fights for us by revealing in black and white U.S. complicity in the torture and murder of innocents. Saving Mr. Assange is a battle everyone who loves freedom must join.
I have felt for years that the last defenders of our freedom would be the cyber-anarchists. We are not at freedom’s end yet, but cameras capture the average Briton 300 times daily. The Lord of Flies even wishes to invade our minds, to determine when we are lying to him.
There is hope. Mathematical results with practical significance may enable us at least to transmit encrypted messages in such a way that only the intended recipients can decrypt them. This comes from the fact that it seems to be time-consuming to factor the product of two large prime numbers. For this reason, the Lord of Flies seeks to limit in essence the size of the prime numbers one can use for encryption — or provide a key to the back door for the government.
Punishing Mr. Assange is part of this effort to control us, Oceania-style. President Barack Obama’s attorney general said that he wanted to “hold people accountable” — meaning Mr. Assange. Right-wing politicians and pundits have even called for the execution of the people behind WikiLeaks.
The British government, by arresting Mr. Assange, has disgraced itself and proven to the world it is America’s toady. It is also violating European Union conventions, if it extradites a man to a place (America) where he could be executed.
Sweden has also disgraced itself. We know the real motivation of the Swedish government, which has wanted Mr. Assange for “questioning,” is political, but, to smear his name, the actual crime they want to question him about is carnal, albeit not one that is a crime in the United States: A woman who had crawled into bed with Mr. Assange claimed he had relations with her without a prophylactic; another woman claimed she willingly had relations with Assange, but that he had removed the prophylactic. Just imagine a man who got a woman pregnant telling a judge he doesn’t owe child support because he thought the woman was taking birth control!
In truth, one of the women, after the alleged “crime,” tweeted to the world that she was “with the world’s coolest, smartest people!”, referring to Mr. Assange, whom she was photographed with, smiling, also after the alleged “crime.” It was only after one of the women discovered that Mr. Assange had recently had relations with the other woman that she tried to file charges.
Like so many public rape accusations, this is simply a case of a woman scorned (and one more reason he-said-she-said cases must be summarily dismissed, not summarily believed). The news media continue to broadcast the lie that Assange faces “rape” or “assault” charges, because the real goal is to defame Mr. Assange. It is not enough to kill him, because that makes him a martyr.
We must instead push back against those who seek to kill truth-tellers. In that way, perhaps we will succeed in saving the man who kicked the hornets’ nest, and save what’s left of our freedom along with him.
Jonathan David Farley was named one of Ebony Magazine’s “30 Leaders of the Future” and was the Harvard Foundation’s Scientist of the Year in 2004. Seed Magazine named him one of “15 people who have shaped the global conversation about science in 2005.” He has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, and the Guardian newspaper. Part of this essay previously appeared in Huffington Post.