The Fourth Estate

“Don’t get assassinated!” were Julian Assange’s parting words to President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as they wrapped up an interview last month on Assange’s show, The World Tomorrow (see here). Assange is now in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, seeking asylum, and it’s reported that sometime soon President Correa will decide whether to grant that asylum. The Wikileaks and Julian Assange saga is one of the biggest stories in recent years and the press are having a field day with this latest twist and turn. Here’s a selection of the bile that’s being directed towards Julian Assange (the Washington Post article is particularly atrocious, and quite ironic considering that it’s the 40th anniversary of Watergate)…

The Independent: Why do we buy into this one-man psychodrama?

New York Times: Asylum for Assange: What’s in It for Ecuador?

Washington Post: Asylum for Julian Assange?

The biased media don’t want to address the fact that Wikileaks, particularly in 2010, shone a light into the stygian world of governments and corporations, and this has had massive repercussions worldwide (for instance, it could be argued that Wikileaks reports of government corruption in Tunisia was the final straw that started the revolution in that country). Of course, Assange has armed his critics by seeking asylum in a country that does not have a good record with regard to the freedom of the press (the irony there, of course, is how muzzled/controled most of the western press is, particularly in the USA). Further ammunition is provided by having his show broadcast by Russia Today (RT), which is funded by the Russian government. Assange has said about The World Tomorrow that he really only had a choice of two broadcasters: Al Jazeera and Russia Today. Al Jazeera would have been the natural choice; problem is, it’s not carried by many cable networks in America, whereas Russia Today is.

It doesn’t look like Assange will be making anymore shows, because he’s stuck in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. It seems inconceivable that Assange would have just sprung this on Ecuador, given his friendly relations with that country. He surely must have talked to the Ecuadoreans over these last months about political asylum. The fact that he’s now in the embassy surely shows that asylum is already set-up and ready to roll? and they must have also discussed the obvious impasse: even with an Ecuadorean diplomatic passport, Assange will be arrested for breach of bail as soon as he leaves the embassy. Have they already negotiated with the British authorities to give Assange safe passage to the airport, and thence a flight to Ecuador? It also seems inconceivable that the Brits would risk pissing off the Americans by letting Assange go; and talking of the Americans, there’s been much made about the diplomatic cables and other such material released by Wikileaks. Let’s not overlook the fact that Wikileaks also did some major damage to large corporations (such as Barclays Bank, Stratfor and Trafigura), corporations which have a lot of influence over American politicians.

It says something about the sorry state of western democracy when an Australian citizen has to seek political asylum in a South American embassy in London.

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