September 27, 2022 — Stephen Rohde, a former Constitutional lawyer, a past chair of ACLU of Southern California, and a member of Assange Defense-Los Angeles, has written a new op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, urging the Tribune and other editorial boards across the country to recognize the threat to their profession posed by the prosecution of Julian Assange.
“It is called ‘the New York Times problem,'” Rohde writes, “but it could just as easily be called ‘the Tribune problem.'”
“News media outlets should be unanimous in their outrage that President Joe Biden has followed in Trump’s footsteps and continued to pursue this dangerous case.”
Rohde concludes by warning that the threat to press freedom doesn’t require a conviction — in fact it’s already begun:
“Attorney General Merrick Garland’s failure to reject the Trump-era indictment against Assange risks the erosion of the First Amendment safeguards that protect reporters and publishers. Even if Assange is never convicted, the chilling effect on investigative journalism increases with each day that Assange remains locked in a maximum-security London prison fighting extradition. If he were to be flown to the United States for trial, the damage to press freedom would be immeasurable.
Biden backers often portray the president’s legacy in opposition to Trumpism, and Biden himself has called journalists “indispensable to the functioning of democracy.” With the midterms approaching, if Biden truly wishes to roll back the authoritarian abuses of the Trump era, he should have a problem with “the New York Times problem.”
Outlets such as the Tribune must follow the lead of the Times and the Guardian, increasing the pressure on Biden to dismiss the charges against Assange and to return us to safer, saner territory.”