London: Australian journalist and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is likely to pay a higher price than Daniel Ellsberg, who had released the Pentagon Papers about the involvement in the Vietnam war, for exposing US government lies by publishing thousands of classified documents, British journalist Patrick Cockburn has said.
Assange was arrested by British police on behalf of the US on Thursday at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he had been granted asylum since 2012.
Assange, 47, is wanted by the US government for publishing classified documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that were leaked by American whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Assange spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy before his arrest.
Cockburn, an award-winning columnist for The Independent, recently described how the US military tried to cover up the July 12, 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians by American pilots in Baghdad which was exposed when WikiLeaks published a video of the incident.
“It was known that a video of the killings taken from the helicopter existed, but the Pentagon refused to release it under the Freedom of Information Act,” he wrote.
“Plenty of people were being killed all over Iraq at the time and the incident would soon have been forgotten, except by the families of the dead, if a US soldier called Chelsea Manning had not handed over a copy of the official video to WikiLeaks which published it in 2010,” he added.
“The exposure of the Baghdad helicopter killings was the first of many revelations which explain why Julian Assange has been pursued for so long by the US and British governments,” he stated.