It was disheartening to witness protesters outside the Embassy of Ecuador carrying placards screaming Press Freedom and Free Julian Assange. Obviously someone with a hideous sense of humour organised such a protest. Julian Assange has nothing remotely to do with Press Freedom.
And when police were invited into the embassy by the Ambassador of Ecuador to remove Assange there was a hue and cry about his rights. Simply put — he was granted asylum, he was informed repeatedly about the house rules, he was warned against committing any actions against sovereign states from the refuge of the embassy. He abused the hospitality. First rule of asylum – never piss on your host’s doorstep.
Let us look closely at Julian Assange.
He is a glorified hacker who selectively hacked the computers of targeted governments and released the data online for all to read and share. He started off well and then revved up into megalomania.
He involved Chelsea Manning, who bore the brunt of his actions.
And what has the hacking and subsequent release of state documents achieved? Has it stopped the wars? The bloody international politics? Has it impacted the immorality of prevailing state justice?
Assange is not a John Pilger, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, or for that matter like any one of the hundreds of journalists worldwide who have been tortured, killed, imprisoned and missing (see The Committee to Protect Journalists).
Those who scream from the rooftops about rights should follow the actions of the journalists mentioned above. Get into the trenches and wade knee deep into the darkness of media and the web. See for oneself what journalists face every day merely for reporting the omissions and commissions of a state and its security apparatus. They have to stand on the front line with their Press Card to be identified. They do not chose the anonymity of the hacker to protect themselves.
Today more than ever journalists face the spectre of being beaten, having loved ones kidnapped and/or murdered, incarceration on flimsy charges or being killed and buried never to be found.
Here’s a 2018 report on the fate of journalists worldwide:
251 journalists were jailed just for covering news. Main offenders —Turkey 68, China 47, Egypt 25, Saudi Arabia 16. The other countries were Cameroon, Rwanda and Morocco.
98 percent of jailed journalists were locals imprisoned by their own governments.
This year (2019) four journalists have been killed, with many missing and/or behind bars without due justice.
Ahmed Hussein-Suale Divela (Ghana – murder)
Leonardo Gabriel Hernández (Honduras- murder)
Mohamed Ben Khalifa Free Lance (Libya- cross fire)
Rafael Murúa Manríquez (Mexico-murder)
Press Freedom means the freedom of journalists to report the news without the threat to life and limb, but not to hack into high security systems, steal data and mindlessly release it online. This action is nothing short of theft, anarchy. Those people who support Julian Assange in his actions should leave their jobs and create a state of anarchy. However, talk is cheap. Most prefer to display their righteous indignation on social media and elsewhere whilst carefully protecting their nests.
Perhaps Julian Assange is the antibody inherent in a society that rises to protect it when ethical barriers are breached and there emerges a grey area in which normal human decency is diseased by power and money.
Perhaps Julian Assange should be set free to send a message to those with power and money that they have been put on notice.
But can this happen when society as a whole has broken into socio-religious-economic fragments where the very people we vote into power become the demons of the day, sucking the life out of us.
So what is the truth? Is Julian Assange a freedom fighter or anarchist? Or just another mote in the state’s eye to be removed by incarceration or murder?