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Parallel Paths of Defiance: Assange and Navalny in the Crossroads of Politics, Journalism, and Justice

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is a figure caught between journalism and justice, causing a global uproar. The WikiLeaks platform, which published leaked classified documents, shook both governments and public opinion. Assange shared millions of documents through this platform, including official reports on war, espionage, and corruption.

However, Assange’s fate is complex and controversial. The United States wants to extradite him for leaking classified military documents during 2010-2011. Assange emphasizes that the files exposed serious violations by the US military and that the case against him is politically motivated. Assange, currently imprisoned in the UK, is a subject of both legal and political debate regarding his future.

Another voice silenced for challenging Putin’s regime is the Russian opposition politician Alexei Anatolievich Navalny. Navalny opposed the corruption within Putin’s regime and became a popular figure in his country. However, his struggle sealed his fate.

Alexei Navalny shares the fate prepared by dictators for their opponents. Navalny’s courageous opposition reached its peak with a poisoning attack in 2020 that endangered his life. Choosing to return to Russia after treatment in Germany was undoubtedly a bold move. However, this decision led to his imprisonment and a life sentence in 2021.

Initially known as a loyal member of the ethno-nationalist right, likening immigrants to cockroaches in a 2007 video, Navalny later shifted his focus to Putin’s corruption. This expanded his local appeal and turned him into a blue-eyed poster boy for the West seeking an alternative to the Moscow status quo.

He was one of the leaders of the major protests following the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections. During this time, he faced government pressure and threats.

Navalny had little he could do to prevent Putin from being re-elected next month. Nobody is unaware of Putin’s paranoid intolerance even to the slightest resistance. Putin’s next term will surpass Joseph Stalin’s 29-year dictatorship record. While Stalin had much more blood on his hands, Putin is on the verge of surpassing him.

Russian prison authorities announced Navalny’s death on February 16, 2024. Navalny’s fate was a dark reflection of the end prepared by dictators for their opponents. His courage and struggle made him an unforgettable leader.

These two figures have different destinies at the intersection of journalism, justice, and politics. While Assange continues to influence the world agenda with leaked documents, Navalny persisted as a silenced voice. Their futures are closely watched both nationally and internationally. Both continue to influence global public opinion by being at the center of significant events in their respective fields.

A few days ago, the UK High Court began hearings on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be allowed to appeal his extradition to the US, where he faces 18 charges that could lead to a 175-year prison sentence.

The question of why US President Joe Biden, dubbed “Genocide Joe” for refusing to act to stop the Israeli atrocities in Gaza and instead attempting to escalate the conflict in the Middle East, wants to add Julian Assange to the list of victims is a separate question mark.

The essence of the case against Assange revolves around the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs that WikiLeaks brought to the public’s attention nearly 15 years ago. These documents exposed the reality and immorality of many bloody events led by Washington through false claims. They were reminiscent of the Pentagon Papers that revealed the horrendous lies that prolonged the Vietnam War in 1971.

As Vice President, Barack Obama referred to Julian Assange as a “high-tech terrorist,” but his administration chose not to pursue charges. If they had pursued these charges more deeply, it would have implicated other media organizations like The New York Times that worked with WikiLeaks to expose the bloodshed caused by the US.

Especially after the release of documents in 2016 that hindered Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, Donald Trump was the one who rejoiced the most. Whether these releases were in favor of Trump is debatable, but until WikiLeaks exposed the CIA’s involvement in some global events, Trump was a fan of WikiLeaks. Joshua Schulte was sentenced to 40 years in prison for leaking classified information. Chelsea Manning, who continues to face ongoing charges related to Assange, faced a 35-year prison sentence, which was later commuted by Obama after 7 years.

Just as many were horrified by Navalny’s fate despite disagreeing with some of his ideas, almost everyone misled by Assange agrees that his ruthless persecution is unacceptable. The British justice system could perhaps grant him freedom after a 7-year prison sentence.

These two figures have different destinies at the intersection of journalism, justice, and politics. While Assange continues to influence the world agenda with leaked documents, Navalny became a sacrificed political voice for the future. It is too late for Alexei Anatolievich Navalny, but Julian Assange must remain free for the sake of democracy.

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YÜKSEL DURGUT is a journalist with a primary focus on global politics and foreign affairs. He serves as the Foreign Relations Director of the International Journalists Association e.V. and holds the position of Editor-in-Chief at Journalist Post.


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