Skip to main content

The future of Gen Z journalism depends on Julian Assange’s freedom

by Sam Carliner

Just thirteen days before World Press Freedom Day 2022 the very existence of world press freedom inched closer to its possible demise. On April 20, a U.K. court formally approved extradition of WikiLeaks founder and Australian journalist, Julian Assange, to the United States to be tried under the Espionage Act. He is facing a sentence of up to 175 years.

Extradition is still not guaranteed. The ultimate decision is pending approval from the U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Assange’s legal team is requesting an appeal. However the reality of extradition and all the implications for a free press that come with it are increasingly likely.
 
Unlike most Assange supporters I’ve met, I’m from a generation born too late to fully appreciate the importance of WikiLeaks and its most significant publications like the Collateral Murder Video, the Iraq War Logs, and CableGate. In fact, I first encountered Chelsea Manning through my friends in the LGBTQ+ community who admired her trans rights activism. At the time I was focused much more on LGBTQ+ issues than on whistleblower issues. Following this introduction, I learned about her importance as the source who provided proof of U.S. war crimes for WikiLeaks to publish.

The first time I remember really understanding WikiLeaks’s importance was when Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2019. Because I had been only vaguely aware of WikiLeaks and Assange up until that point, it was easy for me to look past many of the smears that had circulated about him and instead quickly wrap my head around the dangers for press freedom that his case presented. As I educated myself about the Assange case, I also began to educate my peers.
 
At the time I was in college for journalism. The journalism program at my school focused on teaching students about flashy news production and marketing, but placed little emphasis on the public service aspect of journalism, such as challenging the powerful, platforming the voiceless, and informing one’s community. I became convinced that it was foolish for me and my classmates to be preparing for future careers in journalism while the very basic principles of ethical journalism might soon be criminalized. I found that many of my classmates were receptive to this message, even as the administration of my school refused to take the case seriously. As one of my first initiatives to grow support for Assange, I sent several emails to the director of the communications school I was attending, inquiring about the school's stance on the case and asking for the school to voice support. I also got some of my classmates to send emails. Not one of those emails received a reply.
 
Following the silence from my own school’s administration, I compiled a list of hundreds of communications schools and journalism programs throughout the United States and emailed their directors. I received less than five replies and no commitments to take action in support of Assange.

Much has been written about why Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States is so dangerous, but two points are worth repeating.
 
First is that the United States aims to prosecute and sentence Julian Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq. This would criminalize the action of publishing truthful information about the world’s most expansive military, resulting in a legal precedent that would enable the U.S. government to sentence any publication, from indie media to legacy papers like The New York Times. Such a precedent will likely extend beyond the realm of foreign policy reporting. Any form of adversarial reporting could be punished in a world where U.S. courts decide that publishing true information constitutes espionage.  

The second point that makes Assange’s case so dangerous is that he is not a citizen of the country seeking his extradition (The United States) or of the country overseeing his extradition (The United Kingdom). Assange is Australian. The absurdity and international implications of one country extraditing the citizen of another country to a third country is likely to silence any journalist from any part of the world who might otherwise report on U.S. crimes and corruption. Essentially, the world’s most powerful government will be able to suppress scrutiny and accountability from journalists anywhere in the world if Assange is successfully extradited, tried, and sentenced.

As both World Press Freedom Day and Assange’s possible extradition approach, it is essential that anyone who hopes to hold onto world press freedom support Julian Assange, firmly and vocally. Nothing short of mass pressure from the public will allow for Assange’s freedom and the guarantee of press freedom that hangs in the balance. 

It is easier than ever to support the campaign than at any point in this last decade. Most leading human rights and press freedom organizations have spoken out against extradition including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, PEN International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists as well as editorial boards of The New York Times, The Guardian and many other outlets.

News outlets that previously remained quiet are also starting to sound the alarm. MSNBC, an outlet that generally aligns with the framing of U.S. foreign policy, allowed an interview with Julian’s wife, Stella Assange, to be aired on their streaming service. Then MSNBC promoted the interview on Twitter to its 4.6 million followers. This action alone is likely exposing the case to countless people who may not otherwise question the threat it poses and shows that momentum is building for new activism around freeing Assange.

The new generation of journalists can bring an essential energy to the campaign for Assange’s freedom. My hope is that as momentum starts to build in the United States for Assange’s freedom, established journalists and journalism schools will support us by taking Assange’s case seriously. I encourage young journalists like myself and student journalists to take initiative, call for Assange’s freedom, and demand that our mentors join us. Our future remains in jeopardy as long as Assange is not free.

Source, links:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Julian Assange and the rapid decline of liberal Democracy

by system failure We are now in 2023, and after 1362 days, Julian Assange is still in prison. If you seek something to measure the decline of liberal Democracy in our days, the Julian Assange case will help you a lot. And it's most amazing that in the era of information overflow (with plenty of means available to transfer it almost instantly in every corner of the planet), there are still many people who are unaware of the Assange case.   The origins of this deterioration go back in 1968 when the Left made a disastrous compromise with the powers of the establishment. Since the early 70s and after Nixon's shock , the cultural domination of neoliberalism paved the way for the restriction of certain types of liberties in Western societies.  The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 became the perfect opportunity for the establishment to abolish instantly a significant portion of the civil liberties that came out of the 1968 compromise. The liberal Democracy in the West suffered a heavy

Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges & Vijay Prashad expose NATO

acTVism Munich    

Proof Twitter censored anyone CIA & FBI told them to!

The Jimmy Dore Show   When Viktor Shokin, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine and notable target of onetime Vice President Joe Biden, wrote a book about his experiences in office, there were powerful individuals within the U.S. Government who didn’t want people reading this book, or even becoming aware it existed. And that’s why government agents insisted Twitter censor accounts promoting Shokin’s book, along with countless others in the tsunami of demands for censorship from government agencies that were flooding into the social media company prior to the 2020 election. Guest host Aaron Maté and journalist Matt Taibbi discuss the very dangerous precedent established by this unseemly private-public censorial partnership.

Can we save Julian Assange? Intellectuals & journalists speak out!

acTVism Munich   To close out the year, we summarize our work on the Julian Assange case by compiling excerpts of statements we recorded from Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, Jeremy Corbyn, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Jay, Jill Stein, Nils Melzer, Chris Hedges, Tariq Ali, John Pilger, Jennifer Robinson, Srecko Horvat, and Angela Richter. We hope to continue our coverage of this case next year!  

New JFK/CIA revelations & our alarmingly secretive security state

Glenn Greenwald   Allen Dulles was probably the second or third most powerful person in Washington - maybe the most powerful in 1950s - when he ran the CIA until JFK fired him in 1961 because he blamed Dulles for the failed fiasco in the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. And Dulles had every reason in the world to want to kill Kennedy, as did a lot of people in the CIA.  

Economists Radhika Desai & Michael Hudson explain multipolarity, decline of US hegemony

Geopolitical Economy Report   Introducing Geopolitical Economy Hour: This is the first episode of a show being hosted every two weeks by economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson. They present the program and discuss the rise of the multipolar world and decline of US hegemony.

January 21, 2010: The day corporate dictatorship destroyed the last remnants of US Democracy

globinfo freexchange     As we described many times in this blog, corporate power grew rapidly since the early 70s with the rise of neoliberalism and its subsequent establishment as the dominant culture, especially in the West.  In the motherland of neoliberalism, the United States, corporations essentially legalized corruption in politics during the 70s in order to capture the entire political system and put it under their complete control. As David Harvey describes in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism :                          The supposedly ‘progressive’ campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics. A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speec

Human workforce under severe threat as hyper-automation spreads rapidly

globinfo freexchange     Remember when US workers in fast-food industry were fighting for higher minimum wages? In September, there has been some news circulation about such a prospect concerning the state of California. Yet, while workers struggle hard to achieve even a small raise, the fast-food industry is at least three steps ahead using robots and hyper-automation as what appears to be an unbeatable competitor against human workforce!   Indeed, the first almost fully automated McDonald's opened recently in Texas:   At one McDonald’s location in Texas, robots are now serving up Big Macs. Amid a growing desire for fast food giants to automate their processes, the first mostly robot-run McDonald’s restaurant is currently being tested in Fort Worth, Texas. At this location, there are no human cashiers in sight. Even the restaurant itself is smaller and has no seating, designed to serve the grab-and-go crowd, rather than sit-down diners.   Upon entry, digital tills take customer o

Jeremy Corbyn on freeing Julian Assange, the working class, Brazil, Peru & ending Ukraine War

Democracy Now!   In Washington, D.C., human rights and free speech advocates gather today for the Belmarsh Tribunal, focused on the imprisonment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been languishing for close to four years in the harsh Belmarsh prison in London while appealing extradition to the United States on espionage charges. If convicted, Assange could face up to 175 years in jail for publishing documents that exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Five major news organizations that once partnered with WikiLeaks recently called on the Biden administration to drop charges against Assange.    British MP and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Belmarsh Tribunal, speaks about Assange and freedom of the press. We also speaks about the state of leftism around the globe, from labor rights in the U.K. and Europe to the war in Ukraine, to political unrest in Brazil and Peru. 

Russia dropping US dollar for Chinese yuan - and fast

Multipolarista   In response to Western sanctions, Russia's central bank is dropping the US dollar and plans to buy Chinese yuan on the foreign exchange market. The yuan's share of trading on Russia's currency market increased from 1% to 40-45% in less than a year, while dollar trade halved from 80% to 40%. Moscow has quickly become the world's fourth-biggest offshore trading center for renminbi.