WikiLeaks has slapped down the media’s campaign against Julian Assange, calling reporting from NBC “fake news”:
No he didn't NBC. He's suing over being gagged and isolated for the last seven months. You're printing fake news that greviously undermines the rights of all journalists and refugees to not be gagged or placed into confinement without process. @Reuters https://t.co/wzlkJltg76
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 21, 2018
The actual reasons Assange is suing Ecuador’s government
Assange is suing Ecuador‘s new government for violating his “fundamental rights and freedoms”. President Lenín Moreno cut off Assange’s communications with the rest of the world in March 2018 because Assange commented on political matters, which Moreno said breached a “written commitment”. Moreno has also faced criticism for switching on the Ecuadorian electorate and dropping his left-wing platform in favour of greater private investment and a more pro-US line.
Assange’s lawyers are challenging Moreno’s conduct, which is part of a “special protocol”. The protocol has restricted Assange’s freedom of speech, association and opinion as a condition of his asylum. Anyone meeting with Assange, such as journalists or lawyers, have to disclose their personal information (including the serial numbers of phones) to Ecuador, which is free to share the information with other agencies. Assange’s legal team says authorities can seize the property of the WikiLeaks publisher or any of his visitors without due process.
WikiLeaks founder and former editor Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for six years. He is now an Ecuadorian citizen. The Australian sought asylum after facing sexual offence allegations (now dropped) from Sweden and breaking UK bail terms. The thing is, Assange has long said he’d undergo questioning on both counts, but only if the Swedish and UK governments guaranteed he wouldn’t be extradited to the US to face charges under the vague Espionage Act, which could lead to the death penalty. A leak suggests that the US may already have a sealed indictment prepared.
What’s also often ignored in mainstream discourse is that, in 2015, a UN panel ruled the UK government is arbitrarily detaining Assange.
The ‘liberal’ media smears
Back in January, two doctors had this to say about Assange’s health:
it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.
Regardless, the mainstream media – particularly the Guardian and BBC – are simply trolling Assange. They are painting the publisher, who has exposed serious government abuses of power, as some kind of grubby housemate:
“The practice of journalism”
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says there’s a good reason for the smear campaign:
His crime, and that of WikiLeaks, has been the practice of journalism, and particularly in defense of human rights and civil liberties… WikiLeaks’ real offense was to expose the crimes of the most powerful people in the world.
WikiLeaks, which Icelandic investigative journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson currently edits, is certainly a threat to the Western establishment. Here’s a few of the many ugly truths the organisation has exposed:
- The Iraq War logs, which had secretly recorded 66,000 civilian deaths in Iraq.
- A video of the US military indiscriminately gunning down over a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters news staff.
- That, seven months before the war on Libya ended, Hillary Clinton’s closest advisor said that any “humanitarian motive offered is limited, conditional and refers to a specific past situation”.
- Secret vote-trading deals between the UK and Saudi Arabia, ensuring they both got on the UN Human Rights Council.
- That UK intelligence services refer to investigative journalists as “threats”.
- That Clinton herself has said: “You need to have a public position and a private position on policy”.
In response to such journalism, the US placed Assange on a “manhunting” list alongside al-Qaeda terrorists. And the mainstream media has conducted a longstanding disinformation campaign against Assange, which has now turned to outright trolling.
If the US prosecutes Assange for releasing documents from whistleblowers, that will set a very dangerous precedent for global press freedom.
We must all stand up for the fundamental right to publish information in the public interest.
– Also support grassroots, non-corporate journalism at The Canary.
Featured image via CBC News/ YouTube