In a Press Freedom Day panel discussion, progressive journalists sought to highlight the ongoing persecution of the WikiLeaks founder and the many ways in which journalists are under attack the world over
On Wednesday, May 3, progressive groups marked World Press Freedom Day by drawing attention to the continued hounding of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In a panel discussion held by the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, in collaboration with the International Peoples’ Assembly and Peoples Dispatch, senior independent journalists spoke on why Assange continues to be punished and imprisoned for his reporting.
The panel discussed the topic “Telling The Truth Is a Crime: Why Julian Assange and Other Brave Journalists under Attack” and consisted of Indian civil rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad and senior journalist Prabir Purkayastha.
Teesta Setalvad is renowned for her more than two-decade long struggle to secure justice for the victims of the 2002 sectarian violence in Gujarat and for founding and leading Sabrang, an independent progressive platform known for its work against the Hindu right-wing in India.
“The U.S. government should end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets,” the editors of the Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais wrote in a joint letter published Monday.
The letter was signed by Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger and the editors and publishers of the Guardian (Britain), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany) and El Pais (Spain).
In a joint letter, the news organizations warned that the indictment of Julian Assange “sets a dangerous precedent” that could chill reporting about matters of national security.
“Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists,” the letter said. “If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”
The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assangewas extended and escalated on Friday morning.The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.’s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East.
This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press. Those performative self-glorifying spectacles are constantly deployed to justify these two countries’ interference in and attacks on other nations, and to allow their citizens to feel a sense of superiority about the nature of their governments. After all, if the U.S. and UK stand for freedom and against tyranny, who could possibly oppose their wars and interventions in the name of advancing such lofty goals and noble values?
On Saturday, there will be a march from Australia House in London to Parliament Square, the centre of British democracy. People will carry pictures of the Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange who, on 24 February, faces a court that will decide whether or not he is to be extradited to the United States and a living death.
I know Australia House well. As an Australian myself, I used to go there in my early days in London to read the newspapers from home. Opened by King George V over a century ago, its vastness of marble and stone, chandeliers and solemn portraits, imported from Australia when Australian soldiers were dying in the slaughter of the First World War, have ensured its landmark as an imperial pile of monumental servility.Read More »
This week’s edition of the Lancet—the world’s pre-eminent peer reviewed medical journal—carries a letter from 117 medical doctors in 18 countries, renewing their call for urgent action to save the life of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Their letter appears less than one week before the start of the US extradition hearing in London that may decide Assange’s fate.
The doctors’ two-page letter appears in the correspondence section of the Lancet under the heading “End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange.” It was written by Dr Stephen Frost (UK), Dr Lissa Johnson, clinical psychologist (Australia), Dr Jill Stein (former leader of the US Green Party) and William Frost (UK).Read More »
Whenever I visit Julian Assange, we meet in a room he knows too well. There is a bare table and pictures of Ecuador on the walls. There is a bookcase where the books never change. The curtains are always drawn and there is no natural light. The air is still and fetid.
The WikiLeaks founder says that political and financial elites will not permit Dondald Trump to win this election.
John Pilger: What’s the significance of the FBI’s intervention in these last days of the U.S. election campaign, in the case against Hillary Clinton?
Julian Assange: If you look at the history of the FBI, it has become effectively America’s political police. The FBI demonstrated this by taking down the former head of the CIA [General David Petraeus] over classified information given to his mistress. Almost no-one is untouchable. The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that no-one can resist us. But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI’s investigation, so there’s anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. We’ve published about 33,000 of Clinton’s emails when she was Secretary of State. They come from a batch of just over 60,000 emails, [of which] Clinton has kept about half – 30,000 — to herself, and we’ve published about half.Read More »