Don't shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths – by Julian Assange

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“We Liberals strongly support Julian Assange and the democratic spirit and meaning behind his Wikileaks, as we have continuously been arguing and advancing for core liberal democratic values such as, independent approach,  free will, freedom of thought and expression, citizen’s empowerment especially via access to information, transparency, accountability, the rejection of old divine beliefs of secrecy (classified information) and people’s participation in the state affairs”

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

Mr Assange is in custody in Britain facing extradition to Sweden. (Time magazine)

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

5 Comments to “Don't shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths – by Julian Assange”

  1. Rudd blames US, not Assange for leaks

    Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says the United States, not WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is to blame for the release of secret diplomatic cables.

    Mr Rudd says the 39-year-old Australian cannot be held personally responsible for the release of more than 250,000 documents.

    He says the leaks raise questions about the adequacy of US security.

    “Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network,” said Mr Rudd, who has been criticised in one leaked cable as a “control freak”.

    “The Americans are responsible for that.”

    Mr Rudd appears to be in agreement with former prime minister John Howard, who earlier today said Mr Assange had not done anything wrong by publishing cables that contained “frank commentary”.

    “Any journalist will publish confidential information if he or she gets hold of it, subject only to compelling national security interests,” Mr Howard said.

    “The issue is whether any of this material and the publication of it will endanger people’s lives or endanger individual countries.

    “The bad people in this little exercise are the people who gave the information to him, because they’re the people who breached the trust.

    “They deserve to be chased and prosecuted.”

    Some US politicians are looking for ways to indict Mr Assange over the breach of security.

    Mr Assange is in custody in Britain facing extradition to Sweden in relation to sexual assault allegations, but authorities in both countries insist his detention has nothing to do with the recent release of the secret cables.

    Mr Assange, who denies the allegations, will remain behind bars until an extradition hearing on December 14.

    The original source of the leaks is not known, though a US army private who worked as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, Bradley Manning, has been charged by military authorities with unauthorised downloading of more than 150,000 State Department cables.

    US officials have declined to say whether those cables are those now being released by WikiLeaks.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/08/3088461.htm

  2. Rupert Murdoch connection make it a but dodgy.Old Rupert is trying his best to suppress the truth by flashy images while his TV channels and newspapers are busy targeting minorities all over the so-called advanced world.
    Apart from this,I agree with Julian about freedom of information but hacking is invasion of privacy.If people’s private mail is not safe what is point of having freedom at all.
    Rupert’s thugs tap private conversations,hound people out for slightest mistake and do not hide their prejudices.Julian did the same.
    This kind of journalism is not policy -oriented but thrives on gossip.We condemn it in Pakistan.Why should we admire it anywhere else.

  3. @Naseer Ahmad, yeah to some extent you are right, but i think here we have to give him concessional mark because we think that revelations of cables are in larger interests of people and we think that these sort of cyber journalism’ll enhance process of democratization especially in Pakistan.

  4. The Wikileaks sex files: How two one-night stands sparked a worldwide hunt for Julian Assange
    By RICHARD PENDLEBURY

    A winter morning in backwoods Scandinavia and the chime of a church bell drifts across the snowbound town of Enkoping. Does it also toll for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?

    Today, this small industrial centre, 40 miles west of Stockholm, remains best-known — if known at all — as the birthplace of the ­adjustable spanner.

    But if extradition proceedings involving ­Britain are successful, it could soon be rather more celebrated — by the U.S. government at least — as the place where Mr Assange made a ­catastrophic error.

    Here, in a first-floor flat in a dreary apartment block, the mastermind behind the leak of more than 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables this month slept with a female admirer whom he had just met at a seminar. She subsequently made a complaint to police.

    As a result, Assange, believed to be in hiding in England, faces a criminal prosecution and ­possibly jail. Last night, a European Arrest ­Warrant was given by Interpol to Scotland Yard.

    The Stockholm police want to question him regarding the possible rape of a woman and separate allegations from another Swedish admirer, with whom he was having a concurrent fling. But there remains a huge question mark over the evidence. Many people believe that the 39-year-old ­Australian-born whistleblower is the victim of a U.S. government dirty tricks campaign.

    They argue that the whole squalid affair is a sexfalla, which translates loosely from the Swedish as a ‘honeytrap’.

    One thing is clear, though: Sweden’s complex rape laws are central to the story.

    Using a number of sources including leaked police interviews, we can begin to piece together the sequence of events which led to Assange’s liberty being threatened by Stockholm police rather than Washington, where already one U.S. politician has called on him to executed for ‘spying’.

    The story began on August 11 this year, when Assange arrived in Stockholm.

    He had been invited to be the key speaker at a seminar on ‘war and the role of the media’, ­organised by the ­centre-Left Brotherhood Movement.

    His point of contact was a female party official, whom we shall refer to as Sarah (her identity must be ­protected because of the ongoing legal proceedings).

    An attractive blonde, Sarah was already a well-known ‘radical feminist’. In her 30s, she had travelled the world following various fashionable causes.

    While a research assistant at a local university she had not only been the protegee of a militant feminist ­academic, but held the post of ‘campus sexual equity officer’. Fighting male discrimination in all forms, including sexual harassment, was her forte.

    Sarah and Assange had never met. But in a series of internet and telephone conversations, they agreed that during his visit he could stay at her small apartment in central Stockholm. She said she would be away from the city until the day of the seminar itself.

    What happened over the next few days — while casting an extraordinary light on the values of the two women involved — suggests that even if the WikiLeaks founder is innocent of any charges, he is certainly a man of strong sexual appetites who is not averse to exploiting his fame.

    Certainly his stay was always going to be a very social affair, mingling with like-minded and undoubtedly ­admiring people.

    That Thursday, he held court at the Beirut Cafe in Stockholm, dining with fellow ‘open government’ campaigners and an American journalist.

    The following afternoon, Sarah returned to Stockholm, 24 hours earlier than planned.

    In an interview she later gave to police, she is reported to have said: ‘He (Assange) was there when I came home. We talked a little and decided that he could stay.’

    The pair went out for dinner together at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards they returned to her flat and had sex. What is not disputed by either of them is

    that a condom broke — an event which, as we shall see, would later take on great significance.

    At the time, however, the pair ­continued to be friendly enough the next day, a Saturday, with Sarah even throwing a party for him at her home in the evening.

    That same day, Assange attended his seminar at the Swedish trade union HQ. In the front row of the audience, dressed in an eye-catching pink jumper — you can see her on a YouTube ­internet clip recorded at the time — was a pretty twentysomething whom we shall call Jessica. She was the woman — who two sources this week told me is a council employee — from Enkoping.

    Jessica would later tell police that she had first seen Assange on television a few weeks before. She had found him ‘interesting, brave and admirable’. As a result, she began to follow the ­WikiLeaks saga, and when she discovered that he was due to visit Stockholm she ­contacted the Brotherhood Movement to volunteer to help out at the seminar. Although her offer was not taken up, she decided to attend the seminar anyway and took a large number of photos of Assange during his 90-minute talk.

    It is believed that by happenstance Jessica also met Sarah — the woman with whom Assange had spent the night — during the meeting.

    Afterwards, she hung around and was still there when Assange — who has a child from a failed relationship around 20 years ago — left with a group of male friends for lunch.

    Sources conflict here. One says that she asked to tag along; another that Assange invited her to join them.

    Subsequently, one of Assange’s friends recalled that Jessica had been ‘very keen’ to get Assange’s attention.

    She was later to tell police that, at the restaurant, Assange put his arm around her shoulder. ‘I was flattered. It was obvious that he was flirting,’ she reportedly said.

    The attraction was mutual. After lunch, the pair went to the cinema to see a film called Deep Sea. Jessica’s account suggests that were ‘intimate’ and then went to a park where Assange told her she was ‘attractive’.

    But he had to leave to go to a ‘crayfish party’, a traditional, and usually boozy, Swedish summer event.

    Jessica asked if they would meet again. ‘Of course,’ said the WikiLeaks supremo. They parted and she took a train back to Enkoping while he took a cab back to his temporary base at Sarah’s flat, where the crayfish party was to be held. You might think it strange that Sarah would want to throw a party in honour of the man about whom she would later make a complaint to police concerning their liaison the night before.

    This is only one of several puzzling flaws in the prosecution case.

    A few hours after that party, Sarah apparently Tweeted: ‘Sitting outside … nearly freezing, with the world’s coolest people. It’s pretty amazing!’ She was later to try to erase this message.

    During the party, Assange apparently phoned Jessica and a few hours later she was boasting to friends about her flirtation with him. At that point, according to police reports, her friends advised her ‘the ball is in your court’.

    So it was that on the Monday, Jessica called Assange and they arranged to get together in Stockholm. When they did meet they agreed to go to her home in Enkoping, but he had no money for a train ticket and said he didn’t want to use a credit card because he would be ‘tracked’ (presumably, as he saw it, by the CIA or other agencies).

    So Jessica bought both their tickets.

    She had snagged perhaps the world’s most famous activist, and after they arrived at her apartment they had sex. According to her testimony to police, Assange wore a condom. The following morning they made love again. This time he used no protection.

    Jessica reportedly said later that she was upset that he had refused when she asked him to wear a condom.

    Again there is scant evidence — in the public domain at least — of rape, sexual molestation or unlawful coercion.

    What’s more, the following morning, on the Tuesday, the pair amicably went out to have breakfast together and, at her prompting, Assange promised to stay in touch. He then returned to Stockholm, with Jessica again paying for his ticket.

    What happened next is difficult to explain. The most likely interpretation of events is that as a result of a one-night stand, one participant came to regret what had happened.

    Jessica was worried she could have caught a sexual disease, or even be pregnant: and this is where the story takes an intriguing turn. She then decided to phone Sarah — whom she had met at the ­seminar, and with whom Assange had been staying — and apparently confided to her that she’d had unprotected sex with him.

    At that point, Sarah said that she, too, had slept with him.

    As a result of this conversation, Sarah reportedly phoned an acquaintance of Assange and said that she wanted him to leave her apartment. (He refused to do so, and maintains that she only asked him to leave three days later, on the Friday of that week.)

    How must Sarah have felt to ­discover that the man she’d taken to her bed three days before had already taken up with another woman? ­Furious? Jealous? Out for revenge? Perhaps she merely felt aggrieved for a fellow woman in distress.

    Having taken stock of their options for a day or so, on Friday, August 20, Sarah and Jessica took drastic action.

    They went together to a Stockholm police station where they said they were seeking advice on how to proceed with a complaint by Jessica against Assange.

    According to one source, Jessica wanted to know if it was possible to force Assange to undergo an HIV test. Sarah, the seasoned feminist warrior, said she was there merely to support Jessica. But she also gave police an account of what had happened between herself and Assange a week before.

    The female interviewing officer, presumably because of allegations of a sabotaged condom in one case and a refusal to wear one in the ­second, concluded that both women were victims: that ­Jessica had been raped, and Sarah subject to sexual molestation.

    It was Friday evening. A duty prosecuting attorney, Maria ­Kjellstrand, was called.

    She agreed that Assange should be sought on suspicion of rape.

    The following day, Sarah was questioned again, cementing the allegation of sexual misconduct against Assange. That evening, detectives tried to find him and searched Stockholm’s entertainment district — but to no avail.

    By Sunday morning, the news had leaked to the Press.

    Indeed, it has been suggested that the two women had discussed approaching a tabloid newspaper to maximise Assange’s discomfort. By now, the authorities realised they had a high-profile case on their hands and legal papers were rushed to the weekend home of the chief ­prosecutor, who dismissed the rape charge.

    She felt that what had occurred were no more than minor offences.

    But the case was now starting to spin out of control.

    Sarah next spoke to a newspaper, saying: ‘In both cases, the sex had been consensual from the start but had eventually turned into abuse.’

    Rejecting accusations of an international plot to trap Assange, she added: ‘The accusations were not set up by the Pentagon or anybody else. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man with a twisted view of women, who has a problem accepting the word “no”.’

    The two women then instructed Claes Borgstrom, a so-called ‘gender lawyer’ who is a leading supporter of a campaign to extend the legal ­definition of rape to help bring more rapists to justice.

    As a result, in September the case was reopened by the authorities, and last month Interpol said Assange was wanted for ‘sex crimes’.

    Yesterday, his lawyer Mark Stephens said the Swedish warrant was a ‘political stunt’ and that he would fight it on the grounds that it could lead to the WikiLeaks founder being handed over to the American authorities (Sweden has an ­extradition treaty with the U.S.).

    Assange continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong, and that his sexual encounters with both women were consensual.

    But last week, the Swedish High Court refused to hear his final appeal against arrest, and extra­dition papers were presented to police in England, where Assange is currently in hiding. He is able to stay in this country thanks to a six-month visa which expires in the spring.

    So what to make of a story in which it’s hard to argue that any of the ­parties emerges with much credit? How reliable are the two female witnesses?

    Earlier this year, Sarah is reported to have posted a telling entry on her website, which she has since removed. But a copy has been retrieved and widely circulated on the internet.

    Entitled ‘7 Steps to Legal Revenge’, it explains how women can use courts to get their own back on unfaithful lovers.

    Step 7 says: ‘Go to it and keep your goal in sight. Make sure your victim suffers just as you did.’ (The highlighting of text is Sarah’s own.)

    As for Assange, he remains in ­hiding in Britain, and his website continues to release classified American documents that are ­daily embarrassing the U.S. government.

    Clearly, he is responsible for an avalanche of political leaks. Whether he is also guilty of sexual offences remains to be seen.

    But the more one learns about the case, the more one feels that, unlike the bell in Enkoping, the allegations simply don’t ring true

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1336291/Wikileaks-Julian-Assanges-2-night-stands-spark-worldwide-hunt.html

  5. Wikileaks: Brazil President Lula backs Julian Assange

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has criticised the arrest of the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as “an attack on freedom of expression”.

    President Lula said the internet publication of secret US cables had “exposed a diplomacy that appeared untouchable”.

    He also criticised other governments for failing to condemn the arrest.

    Mr Assange was detained in the UK on Tuesday over alleged sex offences in Sweden.

    “They have arrested him and I don’t hear so much as a single protest for freedom of expression”, President Lula said at a public event in Brasilia.

    The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has also criticised Mr Assange’s arrest, saying it contradicted the West’s avowed democratic values.

    “Why is Mr Assange in prison?” Mr Putin asked at a press conference. “Is this democracy?”

    US authorities have made it clear they they hope to prosecute Mr Assange over the release of thousands of leaked classified diplomatic cables.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11966193?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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