The surprising arrest of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11 has stirred renewed debate over his work, status and mythos.
Assange has lived in political asylum inside the London embassy for nearly seven years, fearing extradition to the United States over espionage charges.
The Metropolitan Police have reportedly arrested Assange on such a warrant from the U.S. Justice Department, this time over a charge of conspiracy to hack the Pentagon government computer network.
In 2010, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military reports and diplomatic communications. The leaks, made public with no redactions, exposed both war crimes from Afghanistan and Iraq and extremely sensitive information. Yet this was not his first major leak.
The Manning leaks were disturbing, in more ways than one. Assange made no effort to redact names or other personal details of the people mentioned in the documents, dismissing the concerns of even human-rights organizations.
Chelsea Manning, formerly named Bradley, was the intelligence analyst who supplied to Assange one of the largest compromises of classified information in history.
The now unsealed indictment alleges that Assange attempted to assist Manning in cracking a password for the Secret Internet Protocol Network that would have allowed her to falsify a username. This would have made tracking the source of the compromise difficult.
The defenders of Assange hide behind many false narratives, many referring to WikiLeaks as just a publisher and Assange himself as an honorable journalist who is a vigilante for the truth. Under such terms, we can assess his actions through that lens.
A responsible journalist does not immediately publish any information he happens to obtain. An ethical journalist must make a decision in good faith, with the explicit understanding that harm is not his aim. By any measure of journalism, Assange is nothing more than a rogue operative for a hostile intelligence service.
Yet, no matter the points of any argument about his job, the charges against Assange fall far beyond the scope of the press and outside of First Amendment protections.
It is justice to distinguish between Assange, a criminal hacker, and the true press.