Assange provided a safe space online for whistle-blowers to leak information for the greater public interest, and has published an abundance of embarrassing documents that implicate various governments and individuals in scandals, corruption and crimes across the globe. This is in fact all his extradition is based upon, his part in exposing US war crimes, something Chelsea Manning has already been prosecuted for, but Assange's role remains one of the publisher of Manning's leaked documents, putting him in the same position as any other journalist or media company. Despite an abundance of misinformation surrounding his ejection from the Ecuadorian Embassy Wikileaks is what was behind the revoking of Assange's asylum at the Embassy, with the Ecuadorian President also implicated in a corruption scandal for which he had blamed Wikileaks and Assange for being unearthed.
This may set a legal precedence for being able to prosecute journalistic practices that bring war crimes to light, something that many governments also enjoy impunity for despite it wildly being recognised as detrimental to a free press, and something that is a crime in many countries. But this pattern is not new, just a gradual decline that can be noticed internationally, and began under the Obama administration in the US with President Obama prosecuting more journalists than all previous presidents combined. The US has a bad history of abusing whistle-blowers also and has been accused by the UN of torturing Chelsea Manning, the whistle-blower that has already been arrested for the crimes that the US is now seeking to have Assange extradited for. Likewise the UN rapporteur for torture has denounced the treatment of Julian Assange in the UK as amounting to torture, with several years of isolation and constant CIA spying so that he wasn’t allowed the privacy to even form his case.
Assange is now facing 175 years in prison in the US being charged under the Espionage Act, a law that has not really been used since the First World War. A publisher has never been charged under the espionage act, and doing so could set a trend where not only whistle-blowers could be prosecuted for espionage but a publisher also, leaving any journalist a potential criminal if they publish something the US government doesn’t favour. Assange should not be extradited to the US, and extradition to Sweden would just see the UK passing the buck to Sweden, letting them decide whether to further the United States' attack on journalism. In this way any extradition would be an unprecedented case, where someone is prosecuted for publishing leaked documents, something that would be seen as a standard journalistic practice if it involved less damning evidence against a less powerful regime. This case has wide ranging implications, this is an atrocities and criminal assault on journalism.