Few public figures are harder to categorize than the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. To his fans of him, he is a fearless truth-teller, exposing state wrongdoing; to many governments, he’s a dangerous fanatic akin to a “digital terrorist”.
But almost everyone will have read journalism based on leaks his organization has published, whether it was the secrets files he revealed from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the decades of top-secret US diplomatic cables, details of the CIA’s hacking tools or the emails of the Democratic National Committee.
Over the past few years, Assange’s many enemies – chief among them, the US government – have started closing in. Now the UK’s home secretary, Priti Patel, has given the green light for his extradition of her to face charges of violating the Espionage Act, alleging that material he released endangered lives. He has 14 days to appeal against the decision, to move his team from him have said they would make.
The case is bigger than Assange. Civil liberties activists argue that the decision to extradite him is a serious threat to public interest journalism.