Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised Monday that the United States “will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world” – a promise the Biden administration will not recognize to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is being prosecuted by the US government wants for the release of classified information that have exposed war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.
“The United States believes that all journalists, regardless of nationality and wherever they are, are legally bound to keep the dirty secrets of the US government. I’m sorry, but this is not ‘support’ for journalists. “
—Clare Daly, European Parliament
“We will not tolerate efforts to intimidate them or silence their voices,” Blinken tweeted, which refers specifically to Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist and critic of the Iranian government. Alinejad, who currently works as a television presenter for the Voice of America Persian News Network – a US government funded medium –says Iranian intelligence agents recently attempted to kidnap her from her home in New York City.
Critics were quick to note that Blinken’s statements of support for Alinejad and “independent journalists around the world” have not yet been extended to Assange as the Biden administration continued its predecessor’s attempt to extradite the publisher from the UK, where he spent more than two years in a maximum security prison.
“Any US media company should denigrate this comment and refer to Assange, but they won’t because they suck,” said political commentator Kyle Kulinski tweeted in response to Blinken’s comment.
Clare Daly, a Socialist Member of the European Parliament, noticed that “the result of the ongoing Trump / Biden indictment against Julian Assange is that the United States believes that all journalists, regardless of nationality and wherever they may be, are legally bound to keep the dirty secrets of the US government . “
“I’m sorry, but this is not ‘support’ for journalists,” added Daly.
In January, a British judge denied the Trump administration’s request for Assange’s extradition on the grounds that the brutal American prison system threatened the editor’s life. Despite pressure from press freedom groups to drop the charges, the Biden government appealed the judge’s verdict in February, and has since then promised Assange serving his potential 175 year prison sentence in his native Australia.
International advocacy groups have consistently argued that Assange will be prosecuted for publishing classified information – Journalists often do– would pose a serious threat to press freedom around the world.
“Journalists from major news outlets regularly speak to sources, seek clarification or further documentation, and receive and publish documents that the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices,” a coalition said Freedom of the press groups wrote a letter to the Biden Justice Department earlier this year.
Since the Biden administration appealed the UK judge’s extradition ruling, new revelations on the US government’s case against Assange have sparked growing calls for an end to indictment and his immediate release from prison.
In one (n interview with the Icelandic newspaper Hour an important witness against Assange last month authorized Making up allegations that the US government has in their accusation (pdf) of the WikiLeaks founder. Shared dreams reported on the inclusion of Sigurdur Thordarson earlier this month, but corporate media in the US has largely ignored the regression.
How Jacobin‘s Branko Marcetic summarized:
The [U.S. government’s] Indictments, including that Assange instructed Thordarson to “break into computers” and secretly capture senior Icelandic officials, including MPs; that they tried to decrypt a “stolen” file from an Icelandic bank; that Assange attempted to use “unauthorized access” to use a government website tracking police vehicles; and that he had ordered and encouraged Thordarson to develop a relationship with a group of hackers who would hack and illegally obtain documents for distribution to WikiLeaks. All of these claims, Thordarson has now admitted to Stundin, are either highly misleading or downright false, reports the newspaper.
“Nobody should be under the illusion that Blinken or Joe Biden are actually worried about freedom of the press, because the Actions taken by the administration to make it clear in the first six months in office – just by reassuring liberal voters that this presidency is different from Trump’s, ”Marcetic continued. “But that’s a lot harder when a major part of the case turns out to be not just an official secret publisher, but a criminal directing global hacking operations.”