19:20 GMT15 July 2020
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    Obama's decision to commute Chelsea Manning's 35-year prison sentence to 7 years, thus bringing forward the former US Army intelligence analyst's release from military prison to May of this year, is a welcome one. However it does not go far enough.

    Manning, along with Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, is part of a trinity of whistleblowers who rather than hunted, punished, and depicted as criminals, have from the outset justly deserved to be decorated for services to humanity. Indeed, in what can only be described as the most Orwellian conception of justice, the aforementioned have been criminalized for exposing high crimes and smeared for their fidelity to the truth.

    What their treatment reveals most is the shameless hypocrisy of those who make it their business to lecture the world on the virtues of democracy, justice, and human rights.

    For were it not for Manning's, Assange's, and Snowden's courage in swimming against the tide of obedience to an unjust and immoral status quo, the veil of lies and mendacity would never have been lifted from the face of power when it comes to the brutal reality of the occupation of Iraq, the mass surveillance of millions of people in the US and beyond by US intelligence, and the venality of politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, whose sense of entitlement and exceptionalism was exposed by WikiLeaks in the run up to the US presidential election.

    A supporter of WikiLeaks founder julian Assange holds a copy of The WikiLeaks Files outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016
    © REUTERS / Toby Melville
    A supporter of WikiLeaks founder julian Assange holds a copy of The WikiLeaks Files outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016

    For such people truth is like daylight to a vampire. And just like vampires when hit with daylight, the likes of Clinton and Obama are pitched into paroxysms of agony and anguish when confronted by it. The only difference between Donald Trump and them is that the new president does not try to conceal his hunger for wealth and power, his real motives, behind a patina of moral rectitude. He does not try to pretend he is anything other than what he is.

    The real "crime" of Manning, Snowden, and Assange is the fact they succeeded in puncturing and removing this patina of moral rectitude, not only from the faces of establishment politicians but more importantly the system they serve and uphold.

    A supporter holds up a poster of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Toby Melville
    A supporter holds up a poster of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016.

    In the wake of the commutation of Manning's sentence, a member of Assange's legal team, Melinda Taylor, has claimed that the WikieLeaks founder is now prepared to face extradition to the United States as a quid pro quo. Welcoming Obama's decision to allow Manning's early release from military prison, Assange said that Manning was a "hero whose bravery should be applauded," before going on to demand that Washington end its war against whistleblowers.

    British police officers stand guard at the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.
    © AP Photo / Sang Tan
    British police officers stand guard at the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

    Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, fearing that a Swedish request to the UK for his extradition on allegations of sex offenses was in fact made with the intention of security his extradition to the US. As of now, the US Justice Department has refused to either confirm or deny whether they have prepared a case against him.

    In November 2016, after repeated requests, the Swedish authorities finally agreed to travel to London to question rather than continue to demand his presence in Sweden. The details and refutation of the allegations involving Assange can be found here.

    In February 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that Julian Assange's detention was unlawful and that he should be allowed to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London without fear of arrest by the UK authorities.

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a copy of a U.N. ruling as he makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Toby Melville
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a copy of a U.N. ruling as he makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016.

    An appeal against this finding by the British government was subsequently rejected in November 2016, yet two months later he remains a fugitive rather than free.

    Given his plight, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the continuing persecution of the WikiLeaks founder is being driven by nothing more than a desire to destroy his life, making him an example to others who may feel minded to expose the crimes, deceit, and dishonesty of the self-proclaimed masters of the universe.

    Edward Snowden, meanwhile, remains in Russia, where he has enjoyed political asylum since 2013, fleeing arrest and prosecution by US authorities after he passed thousands of National Security Agency (NSA) documents to journalists, providing evidence of the agency's global surveillance programs.

    Snowden has just been given leave to remain in Russia for a further three years by the country's government, which given what we know about the US Justice System and its passion for handing down draconian prison sentences and punishments, this is just as well.

    NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden
    © AFP 2020 / Frederick Florin
    NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden

    Snowden, whose story appeared on the silver screen last year courtesy of Oliver Stone, is for his detractors a traitor to his country, while for his supporters he is a hero who exposed those who were engaged in a serious violation of the constitutional rights of its citizens. The determining factor behind either position comes down to our understanding of the relationship between those in power and the country and people in whose interests it is wielding that power.

    In this respect, perhaps the French philosopher and author Albert Camus said it best.

    "The welfare of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants."

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

    Obama Explains Why He Commuted Whistleblower Chelsea Manning's Sentence
    Obama's Decision on Manning's Sentence May Stop 'Vendetta Toward Whistleblowers'
    Obama Commutes Manning's Sentence to Save His Reputation - Snowden's Lawyer
    After Manning's Reprieve, Attention Turns to Fate of Snowden and Assange
    Tags:
    hero, whistleblowers, leaked documents, prison, detention, NSA spying, WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Donald Trump, Julian Assange, Barack Obama, United States, Russia, United Kingdom
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