© Reuters / Henry NichollsPeople protest outside the court, where Julian Assange was sentenced, in London. May 1, 2019.
American journalists "go out of their way to disparage" Julian Assange of WikiLeaks because he makes them ashamed of their own failure to challenge the "eternal war footing" of the US, human rights professor Dan Kovalik told RT.

"I don't believe that the press in this country believes in free speech. This is one of the most compliant presses in the world, especially when it comes to foreign policy," Kovalik said on Thursday. "They are unquestioning of the US' eternal war footing and that is exactly what Assange has challenged and that is why they have taken great umbrage at Assange."

Pointing out that the American press was responsible for spreading the "weapons of mass destruction" and Gulf of Tonkin disinformation that served as pretexts for wars in Iraq and Vietnam, he added that Assange's own willingness to "challenge those types of lies" makes US journalists "ashamed," so they attack him at every opportunity.

"The press in the US in particular has been very happy to use Assange's work and the cables he has revealed for their news stories while at the same time going out of their way to disparage him and to deny that he's even a fellow journalist," Kovalik said.

The biggest threat posed by Assange and WikiLeaks, Kovalik added, is that they "exposed the massive [US] war crimes throughout the world, and that type of exposure is in the minds of our leaders unforgivable, and they will make him pay for that."

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an extradition request on Thursday to send Assange to the US, where he will stand trial on 17 violations of the Espionage Act and one count of conspiring to unlawfully access a Pentagon computer. His case is the first attempt by the US to charge a publisher under the law.