On July 22 of this year, WikiLeaks, the controversial international publisher of leaked classified and secretive information, released emails and documents sent from and received by Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. In some of the emails, Podesta and Neera Tanden, one of Clinton’s closest advisers, express their concerns and criticisms regarding the candidate. In one of them, Tanden writes: “It worries me more that she doesn’t seem to know what planet we are all living in at the moment.” Among the released documents were also transcripts of Clinton’s speeches to the finance company Goldman Sachs, which the campaign had previously refused to release. In one of the conferences to the company, she expressed desires to intervene secretly in Syria.
The WikiLeaks releases seemed to confirm some of the voters’ worst concerns: Clinton’s weaknesses, her intimacy with Wall Street, and her lust for war. And, while the damage done by this release was already well and done, it seems that her campaign and the government quickly understood the ramifications of another possible release.
Julian Assange, editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, has sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 after it was requested that he be extradited to Sweden over sexual assault and rape allegations. On October 17, WikiLeaks confirmed that Assange’s internet access in the Ecuadorian embassy had been cut off. They accused the US government for asking the Ecuadorian government to prevent Assange from publishing any other documents which could further change the tides of the upcoming elections. The Ecuadorian government did confirm that they denied Assange access to the internet stating that it “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states.” However, claims that the US intervened were denied by both governments.
The legality of WikiLeaks is a difficult topic to crack. For one part, what WikiLeaks does is deemed illegal as they are publishing confidential documents, and even if they were not confidential, they are still breaching copyright laws. However, they are only an intermediary through which whistleblowers can anonymously provide the organization with information, which they publish in their stead. In Sweden, where the organization’s headquarters are located, it is illegal to inquire into the identity of anonymous sources, guaranteeing legal protection to all those who leak to WikiLeaks. Similarly, in the US, it has been established in previous Supreme Court cases that the constitution protects those that publish illegally obtained information as long as the publishers did not engage in the illegal acts themselves.
Apparently, the US government’s only option in dealing with Assange and his organization is to extradite him. According to Assange, the sexual assault allegations by the Swedish government are an attempt to extradite him to Sweden, so he can then be extradited to the US. However, Assange has found safe haven in the Ecuadorian embassy, away from America’s clutch. And now with Donald Trump being elected president and thousands urging the president-elect to pardon Assange, he and his organization might be free. He will have trumped the US.