Filmmakers Oliver Stone and Michael Moore spoke out in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today in a New York Times op-ed, declaring themselves “deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks.” Assange is currently living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London after the country granted him diplomatic asylum.
Moore and Stone praise Assange and WikiLeaks for exposing “the uglier acts” of the American government, including the release of footage that appears to shows a U.S. attack helicopter killing Baghdad civilians seemingly at random, and information about the Obama administration’s pressuring of other nations not to prosecue Bush-era officials for torture.
Although Moore and Stone call for a thorough investigation of the sexual assault allegations that have prompted a warrant for for Assange’s arrest in Sweden, they also accuse the governments of Britan and Sweden, and not Assange, of impeding the investigation. The co-authors point out that he hasn’t been formally charged with a crime. They also note that Assange has offered to be questioned in London by Swedish authorities and would even return to Sweden if the country promised not to extradite him to the United States, where he could face charges under the Espionage Act.
“Mr. Assange has every reason to fear such an outcome,” Stone and Moore write. “The Justice Department recently confirmed that it was continuing to investigate WikiLeaks, and just-disclosed Australian government documents from this past February state that ‘the U.S. investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr. Assange has been ongoing for more than a year.'”
At the end of their piece, the filmmakers note the possible global consequences if Assange is extradited to the United States, particularly because the founder is neither an American citizen, nor did his actions take place on American soil.
“If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws,” they write. “The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not.”