Some people want Assange charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. Will our government stop there or go after The New York Times, whicch published the same documents, which were provided by Assange?
[Speaking Truth To Power]
As the fallout from the latest Wikileaks’ disclosures continues, world media must keep on top of any prospective legal action against Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Doesn’t journalism realize it has a vested interest in this case.
For the past few days, since the latest leaks, Assange has been the subject of intense scrutiny in media and government circles worldwide. In fact Assange currently has an Interpol, Red Notice, hanging over his head. A Red Notice is an international arrest warrant. He is wanted in Sweden for, allegedly committing “sex crimes” against two women.
These allegations first appeared last August after Wikileaks published the explosive Afghan War Dairies and the Collateral Murder video. The video showed several innocent Iraqis, and two Reuter’s news personnel, being killed by U.S. military fire.
Several children were also injured in the attack. The Swedish “sex crimes” allegations, at first, were quickly dismissed by Swedish Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne. At the time Finne was quoted as saying “”I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” However, Assange was still being investigated for “sexual harassment” which covers “inappropriate sexual contact” and harassment.
It’s now being claimed there is new information in the case. Assange maintains his innocence–admitting he had consensual sex with the two women. He was attending a conference in Sweden. He said he’s being “setup.” Assange is currently in England; he’ also seeking political asylum either in Switzerland of Iceland where he’ll be able to operate Wikileaks safely.
Assange has reportedly received over 100 death threats. His kids’ lives have also been threatened. The Wikileaks site was
dropped from several web servers –including paypal and Amazon– and has been the target of (DoS) Distributed Denial of Service Attacks, which is a cyber attack meant to render a site inoperable.
Assange is also under attack from the U.S. State Department. Harold Koh, a legal advisor for the State Department sent a letter to Assange which reads in part “I am writing in response to your 26 November 2010 letter to U.S. Ambassador Louis B.
Susman regarding your intention to again publish on your WikiLeaks site what you claim to be classified U.S. Government documents. As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any
intermediary without proper authorization, they were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action. As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.”
All of us-especially those in media-had better pay careful attention to what transpires in this escalating persecuting of Assange. For, the ramifications of the outcome could be severe in making government less transparent, and more secretive, than it now is. The State Department implies Assange can be prosecuted for his publishing of the documents. Some people want him charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.
If that lunacy is allowed, will our government stop there or will they, eventually, go after media entities like the New York Times, who’ve published the same documents, which were provided by Assange?
There are some who’ll say Wikileaks isn’t a media organization. It is. But in all of the calumny against Wikileaks that fact has been lost, or, purposefully ignored. For obvious reasons the government is arguing Wikileaks isn’t a media organization. Unfortunately, some people think only corporate structured media organizations are legitimate. The irony here is: it’s the smaller media groups who’re often doing the real work of exposing corruption and lies within government. Thanks to the Internet truth can be published, by others beside establishment “gatekeepers,” who far too often cover-up government atrocities allowing government to hide behind the mantra of protecting “state secrets.”
In fact, Assange has shown us a new way forward to circumvent the establishment media’s monopoly control of information, that often does nothing more than subvert the truth. Some decry the Internet, as it relates to news. They argue because anyone
can operate a website, that makes it hard to ascertain the truth. I beg to differ.
Is there misinformation on the Internet that passes itself off as news? Certainly–but this criticism presupposes that traditional “mainstream” journalism wasn’t rife with misinformation; it was and continues to be. The real difference is because of the openness of the Internet, there’s often more sifting to go through to find truth. Because of its openness, the Internet allows us to breakthrough the fog of corporate journalism by giving us a broader range of new voices. Assange is a symbol of the immense possibility for journalism in this century.
Unfortunately, the establishment media have been, largely, silent in defending the journalism of Wikileaks and Assange even though they are happy to publish his leaks. The ongoing crucifixion of Wikileaks and Assange will have serious consequences for journalism if world media fails to defend Wikileaks’ right to publish these leaked documents.
How can the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and the others fail do so when they’ve seen it fit to publish these same “classified” documents provided by Wikileaks? The world’s media must defend Wikileaks and Assange in any forthcoming case regarding the publication of leaked documents, because media’s credibility will also be on trial.
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”