Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has spoken out against the US government’s plans to extradite and punish Julian Assange, calling it a “blow to transparency and a blow to a free press.”
Assange’s arrest at the Ecuadorean Embassy in the UK is meant to send a message of intimidation to all US citizens and journalists she said.
Gabbard, who is running for president slammed the Justice Department’s indictment the of WikiLeaks founder, saying it puts the US government on a “dangerous and slippery slope” in its treatment of journalists and all Americans citizens.
“I think what’s happening here is, unfortunately, it is some form of retaliation coming from the government saying, ‘Hey, this is what happens when you release information that we don’t want you to release” Gabbard
told CNN’s Jake Tapper “And I think that’s why this is such a dangerous and slippery slope, not only for journalists, not only for those in the media, but also for every American that our government can and has the power to kind of lay down the hammer to say, ‘Be careful, be quiet and fall in line, otherwise we have the means to come after you.’ ”
RT reports: Speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Thursday, Gabbard defended the prior administration’s decision not to attempt to extradite Assange. Despite his administration’s record use of the Espionage act against whistleblowers, Barack Obama opted not to pursue charges against Assange, claiming it would create a dangerous precedent for journalists.
This is a threat to journalists,” she told Matthews, “but it’s also something that threatens every American, because the message that we are getting, that the American people are getting is: Be quiet, toe the line, otherwise there will be consequences.”
Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British police on Thursday morning, and later found guilty of skipping bail back in 2012. He is due to be sentenced next month and could face a year in prison. Separately, the US Justice Department has indicted Assange on “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion,” with US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010.
The WikiLeaks founder received little sympathy from Gabbard’s fellow lawmakers, Republican or Democrat. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer flogged the dead horse of the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy, accusing Assange of “meddling in our elections on behalf of Putin,” a sentiment echoed by Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), who said that WikiLeaks “effectively acted as an arm of the Russian intelligence services for years.”