On 11 April, whistleblower Edward Snowden put in plain terms the terror of what Julian Assange’s arrest really means. Former CIA employee Snowden rose to international prominence in 2013 after leaking documents showing that US and UK governments were indiscriminately spying on their citizens.
“A dark moment for press freedom”
Images of Ecuador's ambassador inviting the UK's secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of–like it or not–award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom. https://t.co/ys1AIdh2FP
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 11, 2019
Snowden points out that the WikiLeaks team has won many awards for its reporting. These include:
- The Economist New Media Award (2008)
- The Amnesty New Media Award (2009)
- The Sam Adams Award for Integrity (2010)
- The National Union of Journalists Journalist of the Year (Hrafnsson) (2011)
- The Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal (2011)
- The Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism (2011)
- The Voltaire Award for Free Speech (2011)
- The International Piero Passetti Journalism Prize of the National Union of Italian Journalists (2011)
- The Privacy International Hero of Privacy (2012)
- The Global Exchange Human Rights People’s Choice Award (2013)
- The Brazilian Press Association Human Rights Award (2013)
- The Kazakhstan Union of Journalists Top Prize (2014)
Aside from a breach of bail (see a timeline of his case here), Assange’s arrest concerns an extradition request from the US. The now unsealed indictment alleges that Assange is guilty of ‘conspiring to commit computer intrusion’. It claims that Assange helped whistleblower Chelsea Manning crack passwords in order to make it more difficult to identify her as the source of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.
The Iraq war logs showed that US and UK officials lied about having no official statistics on deaths. The leaks identified over 66,000 civilian deaths from 2004 to the end of 2009. They also revealed that the US military indiscriminately gunned down over a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters media staff.
The Afghanistan war documents, meanwhile, showed that the US-led coalition forces killed hundreds of civilians. They then attempted to conceal their conduct. The documents also revealed the US-led coalition’s widespread use of death squads and drones to kill suspects without trial.
In response to Assange’s situation, the former WikiLeaks editor has many international organisations defending his human rights. Recently, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reiterated a ruling it made in 2015. It concluded that the UK government was ‘arbitrarily detaining’ Assange and demanded that the authorities allow him to leave. The Conservative administration tried to appeal the UN ruling but failed, and has since then ignored it.
WikiLeaks is an independent media organisation that specialises in publishing information from whistleblowers that it deems to be in the public interest. The publisher has also released documents on governments across the world, including the US, Iran, Kenya, and China, as well as on the UK far right.
In short, Snowden is spot on that this is fundamentally about press freedom. Washington is trying to crush a dissident journalist for revealing its crimes. This is an attack on the world’s right to knowledge; and we must resist it as such.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?