02:22 GMT11 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Iraqi people have a debt before WikiLeaks and its presently jailed founder Julian Assange, for they exposed the atrocities committed by the US troops during the war in Iraq which otherwise would have gone unnoticed, said Sami Ramadani, a scholar and member of the Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation political organisation.

    "The Iraqi people owe a great debt to WikiLeaks and to Julian [Assange] for what they did," Ramadani said at a virtual event hosted by the UK-based Don't Extradite Assange campaign against the whistleblower's extradition to the United States.

    According to the scholar, it were WikiLeaks' "Collateral Murder" video and pictures released by several US soldiers themselves that played a key role in exposing the war crimes committed by US troops in Iraq. What is no less important, the WikiLeaks video limelighted the question of the US deliberately targeting journalists, both foreign and local Iraqi, who covered the war in an unbiased manner.

    "These two journalists who were killed, as we saw in the 'Collateral Murder' video, were symbolic of the tens of other, scores of other journalists who were killed in Iraq trying to do their duty," Ramadani said.

    As argued by the scholar, Washington, having "learned the lesson" from experience of leaked footage of atrocities committed by US troops in Vietnam, widely attributed the kidnapping and killing of journalists in Iraq to Iraqi resistance fighters, and if it were not for the WikiLeaks video, this plot would just not be questioned.

    A screenshot from the video "Collateral Murder" showing the July 12, 2007, attack by US Army helicopters that killed two Reuters journalists and nine Iraqi civilians

    Assange’s imprisonment is largely seen as a violation of his human rights and a brutal infringement on the freedom of journalism. Right activists and political actors across the world have urged the UK government to drop the prosecution and prevent his extradition to the US.

    Assange is currently in the Belmarsh high-security prison in the United Kingdom pending extradition to the United States on charges of espionage potentially punishable by a 175-year prison term. Ten years ago, WikiLeaks released the largest leak of classified documents in history, with more than 700,000 files and diplomatic cables exposing atrocities committed by US troops during military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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

    US, war, Iraq, WikiLeaks, Assange
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