The future of journalism at stake in Assange case

A portrait of Julian Assange is seen being carried by supporters as Union members and other people participate in a march as part of Labour Day celebrations in Brisbane, Monday, May 6, 2024. Labour Day celebrations, organised by Queensland Unions, invites union members and their families to gather with their union and celebrate the ongoing achievements of Queensland workers and the strength of their unions.
AAP Image/Darren England


The United States Government’s indictment of Julian Assange has major implications for the future of public-interest journalism, according to his legal advisor.

The ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange is a case of “punishment-by-process”, said his long-term legal advisor, Jennifer Robinson.

The United Kingdom High Court’s decision to an allow an appeal against his extradition to the United States is a welcome one, said Robinson. But 14 years after Wikileaks published confidential American military and government documents, Assange – the website’s founder – remains in legal limbo.

This uncertainty and the five years he’s now spent in London’s Belmarsh Prison are having a serious impact on Assange’s health, Robinson said on the latest episode of Follow the Money.

This ordeal is the result of a Trump administration decision to indict Assange for publishing material connected to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, including the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention centre and the killing of journalists and civilians.

“We will be looking at the impact of this material for decades and generations to come.

“And yet, the person responsible for making this available to the public – with hundreds of media partners around the world – is in prison.

“We’ll look back on this time and think ‘how on earth did it take so long? How could we have allowed an award-winning publisher to sit in a British prison?’.”

“The [US] Department of Justice could, at any time, make the decision to drop this case.”

The indictment of Assange, which Robinson said “criminalises public-interest journalistic practices”, has major implications for the future of the media.

“This is an indictment that absolutely criminalises the receipt, possession and publication of national security or defence information.

“The New York Times general counsel has called it himself the ‘New York Times problem’.

“The US cannot distinguish between what Julian did, and what Wikileaks is purported to have done, and what the mainstream media does every day.”

“It’s very serious for the media.”

Follow the Money is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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