None of this is a secret. The controversies surrounding Manning's treatment after she was arrested for giving secret information to WikiLeaks were public knowledge by the time Assange sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in the summer of 2012. He was well aware of what will happen to him if the U.S. is able to use its considerable sway to get Sweden to extradite him. He's aware of it now.
Who among us wouldn't fight that? If you knew that going through what Manning went through was even a remote possibility, you'd fight tooth and claw to keep anything that could lead to that possibility from happening. They'd have to pry me off the embassy ceiling with a crowbar and I'd fight kicking and screaming the whole way, even if I was guilty as sin.
Nobody deserves to be tortured. Even those who pretend to know that Assange is a rapist (and they don't) are aware that torture is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution and is not a valid punishment for any crime. If the U.S. government wants to claim that such practices are reasonable and acceptable, it needs to burn the Constitution and be honest that it's no longer interested in behaving like the government of a first-world country.
The ACLU Legislative Counsel said in 2014 that the Obama administration has prosecuted more national security "leakers" than all other presidencies combined, by an immense margin. Washington's Blog did the math and found that the Obama administration has sentenced whistleblowers to 31 times the amount of jail time as all other administrations before him combined. This is unquestionably the most anti-leaker environment that has ever existed as far as the U.S. is concerned, and Assange is not at all paranoid to think these people will come after him.
Chelsea Manning was tortured. That brave, gentle, intelligent mind was pummeled, tormented and humiliated by a brutal regime bent on killing government transparency and silencing anyone who tries to show the American people what what its government is up to. All because she wanted to do the right thing. Assange's latest leaks have revealed corruption and deceit so immense it's impossible to wrap one's mind around it all, and yet we're meant to believe he's the bad guy for doing his darned best to avoid being tortured. Right.
You don't get to torture whistleblowers and then slander them for evading extradition attempts, America. That's not a thing. Julian Assange will continue to do everything he can to avoid being tortured like Chelsea Manning, as would anybody else. And I hope succeeds.
[Featured Image by Michael Sohn/AP Images]