Treatment of Assange was a shameful stain on our First Amendment

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Tuesday’s release of Julian Assange from 14 years of confinement is to be celebrated on humanitarian grounds. But as we celebrate his return to his wife and children, let us take this moment to examine how our nation, once the global champion of press freedom, came to persecute this brave journalist.

There is a reason why the Founding Fathers enshrined freedom of the press in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is crucial for democracy to function. Democracy requires transparency. Without it, government cannot be accountable to the public. A vigorous free press makes the workings of government visible, focusing foremost on that which the government wants to hide.

President John F. Kennedy understood well that secrecy is inimical to democracy. In his address to the American Newspaper Publishers in 1961, he stated,

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