This is excellent journalism, whatever your view is on the story. It makes me angry, because the person being punished is allegedly the person who brought us the famous video footage showing ‘collateral damage’ in Iraq, which Assange called ‘collateral murder’. Is he any different to the guy who attempted to stop the tanks going to Tiananmen Square? In both cases they have effectively disappeared and become enemies of the state in their own countries.
As the title of the programme says, Private Bradley Manning has become ‘the forgotten man’, as all news coverage focuses on the indictment of Julian Assange for an alleged double rape in Sweden.
I won’t make any character or personality judgements concerning Assange because they are irrelevant to the issue. Assange may be narcissistic and he may be a delusional crusader, but it doesn’t change the case against him or the arguments concerning his journalistic rights to make public, information that may embarrass heads of government. Because, as far as I can tell, that’s exactly what he’s done.
When this first came to a head, i.e. information was leaked, our (Australian) government toed the American party line and told us that what Assange had done was dangerous, jeopardised national security and put lives at risk in the field of combat. But, after examining the evidence, the Attorney General’s Department issued a statement saying Assange had done nothing illegal under Australian law.
It should be stated that, in Australia, Assange has a lot of support, especially from journalists. All journalists know that if they had obtained the same information they would have done the same thing. Whistleblowers are always persecuted by the body that they’ve betrayed, because you can’t whistleblow without betraying the hand that feeds you. Democracies like to think that they are fairer than other countries but if you whistleblow on your government, then, even in a democracy, you won’t escape the full force of the law they can bring to bear upon you. This is true of Australia just as it is of America.
It is evident from the 4 Corners programme (refer link) that they are attempting to break Manning through torture (solitary confinement 23 hrs a day is torture) so that he will turn evidence against Assange for espionage.
Assange’s barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC, argues that Assange won’t get a fair trial in Sweden and it will be a closed court. Assange believes that the case in Sweden is really a ploy to get him to America so they can put him on trial for espionage. Robertson (another ex-pat Aussie) is a well known human rights lawyer and famously took on Salman Rushdie’s case when he was issued a death sentence fatwah by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989.
What’s most alarming in the entire programme, is footage from FOX News showing right wing political commentators recommending, on American national television, that Assange should be ‘taken out’ by CIA operatives.
The solution to unwanted news in America is apparently to shoot the messenger, literally.