Op Ed: Washington Post, Legacy Press Betray Assange As His Freedom Hangs In The Balance
The last two months have seen tectonic shifts regarding Julian Assange’s hopes of being able to safely leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London after what is now over seven years of arbitrary detention. The Wikileaks Editor In Chief was granted an Ecuadorian passport in December, which conferred on him the right of Ecuadorian citizenship. Potentially even more significant was Ecuador’s move to classify Assange as a Diplomat.
Wikileaks specifically noted Reuters’ coverage of these latest developments: “Depo Akande, an international law professor at Oxford University, said that Ecuador could argue that Britain had no right under international law to reject its declaration that Assange had diplomatic status.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 23, 2018
Additional press reports indicate that if the UK were ordered by the International Court to accept Ecuador’s decision to treat Assange as a diplomat, and were then to “declare him persona non grata, it would then ‘have to give him facilities to leave’ the country unhindered.” One hopes that the current Ecuadorian President, Lenín Moreno, will not bow to pressure from the United States to withdraw support from Assange. Ecuador’s former President, Rafael Correa, has indicated that this is a real possibility.
So far, legacy press has not taken the UK to task for attempting to “ignore” Assange’s new diplomatic role. Now more than ever, the media’s silence is important in informing or misinforming the public regarding Assange’s situation. The legal implications of Ecuador’s decision to confer Assange diplomatic status are potentially massive, but many outlets have been atrociously silent on the matter when they are not outright lying regarding Assange’s circumstances.
In light of the precariousness of recent events, human rights activist, journalist and Wikileaks supporter Randy Credico recently issued a call for Wikileaks supporters to ‘mobilize‘ in his support. This is a statement which should be taken seriously by the public and by independent media, which has increasingly been tasked with filling the void left by mainstream outlets that no longer function in the interest of honest reporting.
This a genuine serious situation trust me I know please mobilize https://t.co/kiIOI9F7uS
— Randy Credico (@Credico2016) January 21, 2018
Telesur recently reported that former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had warned: “It will only take pressure from the United States to withdraw protection for Assange.” He added: “Surely it’s already being done, and maybe they await the results of the Feb. 4 (referendum) to make a decision.” Correa also referred to Ecuador’s current president as a “traitor.”
Over the last twelve months, Disobedient Media has reported extensively on the hypocrisy of legacy press, including The Washington Post. The outlet’s recent coverage of Assange’s circumstances serves as an emblem of the overall problem of intelligence agency narratives being pushed by a corporate press with which they are entangled.
The Washington Post exemplified the issue when it published an article erroneously titled: “Ecuador’s president calls Julian Assange ‘more than a nuisance.” The article in question incorrectly referenced Assange in the following incorrect terms: “the WikiLeaks founder was wanted in Sweden on sexual assault charges. Those have since been dropped. ” Assange was never charged with sexual assault, and Sweden ended their investigation into the subject.
Although false narratives around Wikileaks are nothing new for establishment press, the latest smear attempts are particularly important due to the precarious nature of Assange’s current position.
Wash Post falsely reports Ecuador’s Pres saying that “Assange is more than a nuisance” when, infact, he referred to the ISSUE of Assange’s detention by the UK. Then falsely reports that Assange had been charged. Then that he didn’t “show up to court”. https://t.co/uQXD8t9Wkf
— WikiLeaks Task Force (@WLTaskForce) January 23, 2018
The Washington Post’s allusion to non-existent sexual assault charges dishonestly paints Assange and the reasons for his exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in a light that not only is factually untrue, but conveniently distracts from the manifold ways in which Assange and Wikileaks employees have been directly targeted as a result of their journalistic endeavors. As this author previously reported, there have been a plethora of calls to assassinate Assange from media pundits, as well as individuals associated with the Democratic Party establishment.
In light of all this, it is absurd to discuss Assange’s predicament without also addressing the intelligence community and plutocratic establishment that has fundamentally driven the situation from the beginning.
UN rulings on the matter of Assange’s detention have stated: “Assange has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010, as a result of the legal action against him by both Governments, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said today.” In essence, even the UN has recognized that Assange’s longstanding exile in the Ecuadorian embassy is due to governments who feel threatened by the content of Wikileaks publications.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) October 13, 2017
At this juncture, it bears reminding that Jeff Bezos, the current owner of the Washington Post, has a $600 million contract with the CIA in relation to his monolithic company Amazon. The Nation wrote in 2013:
“Amazon, under the Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, recently secured a $600 million contract from the CIA. That’s at least twice what Bezos paid for the Post this year. Bezos recently disclosed that the company’s Web-services business is building a “private cloud” for the CIA to use for its data needs. Critics charge that, at a minimum, the Post needs to disclose its CIA link whenever it reports on the agency. Over 15,000 have signed the petition this week hosted by RootsAction.”
The Nation’s coverage of the CIA’s contract with Amazon has since been removed from their web page for unknown reasons, but is available through archive services.
When discussing The Washington Post’s exercise in gaslighting, it is important to keep the outlet’s well-documented financial connection with the CIA through Bezos in mind. In so doing, it is also pertinent to note that the CIA has made its hatred for Assange very clear, especially over the course of the last year. CIA Director Mike Pompeo put the agency’s hatred for Wikileaks were on full display as recently as yesterday, when the CIA Director lambasted the journalistic organization as a threat on par with Al Qaeda. Pompeo said of Al Qaeda and Wikileaks: “They don’t have a flag at the UN, but they represent real threats to the United States of America.”
That a group who publishes information that is inconvenient for the CIA would be likened to a terrorist network speaks to the threat which Wikileaks represents not to the safety of the American public, but to the plutocratic class and the American deep state.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 23, 2018
Pompeo is well known for his previous reference to Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” The Hill wrote of the incident: “In his first major public appearance since taking the top intelligence post in the Trump administration, Pompeo took aim at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden…” The Hill also cited Pompeo’s characterization of Assange as a: “fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen.”
Pompeo’s vitriolic characterization of Wikileaks is helpful, because it demonstrates that the CIA’s response to Wikileaks is on par with the force with which terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda are pursued. In that light, the magnitude of the threat faced by Assange and Wikileaks associates cannot be over-estimated. Pompeo’s words are not only absurd in light of Wikileaks being an extremely accurate journalistic organization, but also depict the real impetus behind Assange having been trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy for years.
The CIA Director’s statements, even taken at face value, completely undercut the manipulative coverage of Wikileaks and Assange by outlets like the Washington Post. That providing evidence of corruption is considered an existential threat by the establishment is indicative of the value of Wikileaks to the public. The publisher is only a threat to those whose lies are exposed by their publications. The same plutocracy that has aggressively targeted Assange and Wikileaks has progressively strangled free press and freedom of thought in the United States and the world for decades.
The anger of intelligence agencies towards Assange and Wikileaks may seem superficially unrelated to the disgracefully inaccurate treatment of the publisher in American press. However, it is necessary to view mainstream outlet’s coverage of Assange, including both their misinformation and their resounding silence on his having been targeted by the intelligence community, as an expression of aggression from the American ‘deep state.’ This is especially noteworthy given the close ties of the intelligence community to legacy media, as encapsulated by The Washington Post.
Disobedient Media previously reported on the unanimous echo chamber of establishment political think-tanks and apparently left-wing news organizations when it comes to issues pushed by the intelligence community, including the reauthorization of deeply flawed FISA legislation. In the case of Assange, the litany of lies and gaps in coverage over the years are too numerous to recount in full, but represent a concerted effort to silence truth through deflection and manipulation.
Alternative media must refuse to be silenced by the American deep state’s fanatical crusade against Wikileaks and its supporters. If it were not for Wikileaks, the growing niche of independent journalism would have virtually zero factual standing when attempting to counter disinformation by press outlets that have completely abandoned their role as a watchdog against government abuses.
If there was ever a time to support Wikileaks and its Editor in Chief, that time is now. To abandon Assange at this critical moment would be more profound than its deleterious effect on the life of an individual: it would represent a complete forfeiture of integrity across the entire spectrum of journalistic endeavors.