Chelsea Manning

For years, Julian Assange's opponents argued that the rationale for his remaining in the Ecuadorean embassy in London -- that the United States would seek to extradite him in relation to the Chelsea Manning material the moment he left the building -- was false. Assange just wanted to avoid facing allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, they insisted -- however inconsistent, strange and politicised the process around those allegations actually was -- and the possibility of extradition to the US was a fiction, a distraction. Some, like Bob Carr when he was foreign minister, rejected the idea there was any US investigation at all into Assange.

This required some rapid shifting of position when, the moment Assange was removed from the Ecuadorean embassy, the US indeed revealed its desire to extradite him. You might have thought there would be some mea culpas. Instead, the argument from Assange's critics, ranging from national security commentators to lawyers to journalists, became that his extradition case wasn't a threat to a free press (never mind that Donald Trump has repeatedly labelled the media "enemies of the people") because it related to Assange's actions as a "hacker", not a journalist. The aptly named Robert Hackett summed up the "Assange is no journalist" case succinctly for the multinational-owned business magazine Fortune: