Review: Documenting Julian Assange's Legal Battles

Kym Staton's documentary also tries to debunk several accusations against the WikiLeaks founder.


A new documentary chronicles the legal troubles of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took the titular trust fall into the arms of the American public when he published information governments didn't want us to know. Certain activists have risen to his defense, including most libertarians, but "Free Assange" has hardly been a mass rallying cry.

The Trust Fall, though typical in its structure (mostly talking heads, some bespoke animation) and proudly on its subject's side, might convince even doubters that Assange's actions—accepting classified documents from a source, then publishing them—are clearly First Amendment–protected journalism. Kym Staton's documentary also tries to debunk several accusations against Assange, including allegations that he is a rapist, is a Russian asset, or caused the deaths of U.S. intelligence assets.

Anyone who respects democratic control of public policy should laud Assange's decision to reveal unreported civilian casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including 2007 footage of U.S. helicopter pilots murdering journalists.

In 2019 the Trump administration charged Assange with 18 violations of the Espionage Act, and he has been fighting extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. ever since. In May, the British authorities granted him another appeal.

Even if Assange is never forced into an American court, that won't reverse the damage to his health caused by his long entrapment in the Ecuadorian embassy and the British Belmarsh prison, or the chilling effect on others who might dream of following in his footsteps.