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Media Elites to Assange: Fight for Your Own Hide

December 26, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange languishes in a British prison awaiting probable extradition to the United States to stand trial for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Ironically, he is serving jail time for jumping bail on trumped-up sex crime charges in Sweden that even the Swedish government has now abandoned. Most Western, especially American, mainstream journalists, though, have expressed at most tepid opposition to the persecution of Assange, even as reports mount that his health has deteriorated to an alarming extent.

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This is shameful and jeopardizes the news media’s own long-term interests.

The worst thing about such conduct is that so many reporters have bought into the Justice Department’s insistence that Assange is not a “legitimate” journalist. John Demers, the DOJ’s assistant attorney general for national security, bluntly stated the government’s thesis earlier this year. “Julian Assange,” Demers said, “is no journalist,” since he engaged in “explicit solicitation of classified information.”

Other Trump administration officials have conducted a similar campaign to delegitimize Assange’s status as a journalist, thereby justifying his prosecution for espionage. “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in April 2017 during his first public speech as head of the agency. “Assange and his ilk,” Pompeo charged, seek “personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.”

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The Committee to Protect Journalists mimics the government and drops the jailed Wikileaks founder like a hot potato.

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Unfortunately, much of the U.S. press seems eager to exclude Assange from its ranks. A decision by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in early December underscored the mainstream media’s willingness to disown Assange. The CPJ refused to include him on its annual list of journalists jailed throughout the world. CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney’s attempt to explain the decision was an exercise in painful linguistic contortions. His December 11 blog post on the CPJ website used the unequivocal title, “For the sake of press freedom, Julian Assange must be defended.”

Much of the substance of the post, though, pointed to the opposite conclusion. “WikiLeaks’s practice of dumping huge loads of data on the …read more

Source: OP-EDS