Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks which “is an independent, non-profit online media organization that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous sources”. Since the apparition of Wikileaks, Julian Assange is a controversy man and everybody have is own opinion about him. Moreover, since Mr Assange decided to reveal information about US Army and theirs practices for the Afghan and Iraq wars on his website he’s become a target for a lot of government. Today, Julian Assange obtains a political asylum at the Ecuador’s London embassy and he wants that the US give up their “witch hunt against Wikileaks”.
The USA wants to judge J. Assange for his acts but he doesn’t want to be judged by the American justice. At this point, we can have a lot of questions about this case like: Do Julian Assange and Wikileaks’ behaviours are ethical? Has Julian Assange really break laws with his website? Should Julian Assange go to jail and Wikileaks shut down permanently? So, we will analyse Assange’s case in an ethical way and give some answers to those questions. First, we will talk about the ethical issues of Julian Assange’s case. Then, we will focus on which laws J. Assange broke.
To conclude, we will try to answer to the question “Should Julian Assange go to jail and Wikileaks shut down permanently? ” according to the analysis of the ethical issues. According to me, Julian Assange is a very complex person. Actually, he claims that he reveals those information because “people have the right to know” and also because governments are not enough transparent. In more, for him a lot of government have some unethical practices and the fact that those practices were revealing, he thought that it will encourage governments to be more ethical. But this is Julian Assange’s words.
The website Ethics Alarms thinks that “Assange really doesn’t care about the consequences to anyone else. Assange’s real priority is Assange, and everything and everyone else is secondary”. Assange thought that his acts were good but good for me doesn’t mean good for others. In fact, a lot of people think that all the information revealing by Assange did nothing good and it wasn’t useful. For example, in the article of The Dissenter website, there is the point of view of Josh Barro, who is a lead writer for Bloomberg View’s The Ticker and “Josh Barro said having these documents released “did nobody good. That hundreds of thousands of stories were written and that change might have occurred did not make the release a “good thing. ””. In his information, Assange talked about relation inter-government and that can hurt the relationship between countries and this is not good for people on those different countries.
In the website Media Ethics and Society it mentioned: “Knowing what American politicians say behind their backs is not going to help diplomatic relations with them at all. This could hurt our government in unnecessary ways because these documents did not need to be released for any sort of reason. In the same website they also explain: “As journalists, we have the ethical duty to seek and tell the truth, according to the Society of Professional Journalists' Ethical Code. Judging by this and this alone, then Julian Assange should probably be praised for his work in leaking untold thousands of government documents that serve to enlighten and bring some hard-bearing truths to the limelight”. But can we tell that he is ethical just because of that? Of course we can’t because even if Julian Assange told the truth, some information has to stay secret for keep population safe and the way he used to acquire those information is not right.
He got his information in different ways: whistle-blowing, leaks, hacking and steeling. Besides, we can think that Julian Assange did that only for notoriety. In fact, talk about secret and in more, US Army secret give him a huge recognition and he considers presenting himself for the 2013 senate election in Australia and according to The Age “he has received encouragement for his Senate bid from a poll in which a quarter of voters said they would be likely to vote for him”. So if we just consider the fact that Julian Assange wants to tell the truth and improve the governments he can be seen as an ethical person.
However, the information he gives to the world can be dangerous for a lot of people and affect them. Also he used some unethical practices to get all those information and we don’t know if he did that just for being recognize and acquire some notoriety. In this case, there are a lot of legal issues also and as we know, law and ethic are link even if unethical behaviours are not always punished by law. But as the book Ethic and the conduct of business says: “In countries with well-developed legal systems, the law is a relatively complete guide for business conduct.
In the United States, much of what is unethical is also illegal”. Assange has justice’s issues with two countries: Sweden and America. First, in Sweden, Julian Assange has some issues with the justice because he is accused of rape by two women on that country. In the website Discovery News they tell that “Assange and his supporters are essentially invoking a conspiracy, insisting that the charges against him are trumped up and a pretense to arrest him for his Wikileaks-related charges in America”.
That hypotheses can be true but it’s like the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, nobody knows if he really did the aggression or if it’s a conspiracy but anyway, he has been judged in America for his act. Julian Assange has to be judged for the rape as everybody else. The Discovery News emphasize that “Assange has been accused, though not convicted, of being a serial rapist. If he had been convicted and sought asylum to escape justice and prison, that would rightfully be seen as an abuse of political asylum powers”.
But today, if Assange doesn’t want to go to Sweden to be judge it’s because “he claims that if he turned himself in, Sweden would then extradite him to the U. S. where he would face espionage charges for revealing state and military secrets to the world with the publication of the Wikileaks” as it explain on the website Ruder Finn. Second, in America, the justice wants to punish Assange for his acts but we can wonder if it because he has been unethical or “un-American”, maybe this more an cultural issue.
In fact, if the Educator’s embassy allows the asylum to Assange it’s because, according to their words, “the evidence shows that if Mr Assange is extradited to the United States, he wouldn't have a fair trial” and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. So American’s justice has to be very careful about Julian Assange because they can’t punish him just because he talked about the US government and they don’t like that.
In more, if they respect the equality before the law, they can’t closed Wikileaks because as it’s explain on the website Discovery News: “Several reputable news outlets, including The New York Times, published confidential information provided by Assange's organization and have escaped criminal prosecution”. So American justice doesn’t do anything when it’s an American company, like the New York Times, who reveals some confidential information but they think that Julian Assange was going too far.
I think American want to sue Assange because this is such a powerful country that nobody has the right to reveal theirs weaknesses, more than anything when it’s not an American citizen. So if Julian Assange is judged by the American justice, he wouldn’t have a fair trial. To conclude, the Julian Assange’s case is complex in an ethical point of view. In fact, it’s hard to determine if Julian Assange’s behaviour is ethical or not. If he really revealed those information just in the purpose to tell the truth to the world about government, it’s an ethical behaviour, a deontological behaviour.
But, his acts didn’t bring good to people and harm some people so it’s not an ethical behaviour. Also, sometimes unethical behaviour can be punished by the law but not always and in this case, Assange’s acts can’t all be punished and the American justice has to be fair about that, everyone deserved a chance to justify himself beyond the justice. Also, the American justice have to considers the liberty of speech and don’t have really the right to shut down Wikileaks because the website doesn’t break any laws.References
John R. Boatright., Ethics and the conduct of business 5th ed., Pearson Prentice Hall, c2007
WikiLeaks, December 2010, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/WikiLeaks
Julian Assange: Not a Hero, Not a Terrorist, Not a Criminal, Just an Asshole, December 2010, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/12/06/julian-assange-not-a-hero-not-a-terrorist- not-a-criminal-just-an-asshole/
Kevin Gosztola, How Coverage of Julian Assange Provokes Liberal Outrage, August 2012, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/08/18/how-coverage-of-julian-assange-provokes-liberal-outrage/
Lucas Becthol, May 2011, Is Julian Assange going to too far with Wikileaks?, Retrieved Septembre 15, 2012, from http://scrippsmediaethics.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/is-julian-assange-going-to-too-far-with.html
Michelle Grattan, Poll supports Assange's Senate bid, May 2012, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/poll-supports-assanges-senate-bid-20120518-1yw85.html
Julian Assange, August 2012, Retrieved Septembre 15, 2012, from http://www.ruderfinn.com/blogs/ethics/2012/08/julian-assange.html
Benjamin Radford, Ethical Issues Plague Wikileaks Standoff, August 2012, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://news.discovery.com/human/ethical-issues-plague-the-wikileaks-asylum-standoff-120817.html
Benjamin Radford, WikiLeaks: The Ethics of Revealing Secrets, November 2010, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://news.discovery.com/human/wikileaks-the-ethics-of-revealing-secrets.html
Julian Assange to run for Australian senate, March 2011, Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/mar/17/julian-assange-australian-senate-bid