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Iraq War Logs anniversary underscores importance of press freedom today | READER COMMENTARY

Stella Moris, partner of Julian Assange, gives a statement outside the Old Bailey in London, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, as the Assange extradition hearing to the U.S. has ended, with a result expected later in the year. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Stella Moris, partner of Julian Assange, gives a statement outside the Old Bailey in London, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, as the Assange extradition hearing to the U.S. has ended, with a result expected later in the year. (Yui Mok/PA via AP) (Yui Mok/AP)

Oct. 22 was the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Iraq War Logs (“Julian Assange is no hero,” May 15, 2019). The documents revealed war crimes, more than 15,000 previously undocumented civilian casualties and evidence that the military killed innocent people and mislabeled them as enemies for statistical purposes.

These revelations were only possible because Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning acted out of conscience, and WikiLeaks bravely published them after the Washington Post and New York Times hesitated. The coverage won countless awards, but also led to Ms. Manning spending years in prison and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange facing an unprecedented 175-year sentence.

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With so much uncertainty surrounding the freedom of the press, from President Donald Trump’s anti-journalism rhetoric to polarized partisan media to social media giants censoring people’s speech, we must stand up for the First Amendment. Whatever your political beliefs, we should all support protecting whistleblowers and press freedom. Without them, we cannot be informed, responsible citizens.

Karen Steele, Westminster

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