World Press Freedom Day, celebrated May 3, stemmed from the necessity to admonish governments the world over a free media acts as a barometer of the health of a nation — insofar as wrongdoing, exposed, can’t continue unnoticed — but today’s celebration has been severely tempered by a decline in the rights of journalists.
In the one nation which should be considered a bastion of press freedom — enshrined expressly in its storied Constitution — the dogged pursuit of governmental transparency in living up to the journalist’s duty to act as watchdog of the State will instead emblazon a permanent target for prosecution. Or worse.
Wikileaks, itinerant publisher of leaked information of the stripe governments would rather remain hidden, has endured a horrendously negative propaganda campaign from U.S. officials from both sides of the aisle after voluminous caches of documents exposed flagrant, pompous misbehavior at every level.
Founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange rightly condemns the brazen hypocrisy in the United States maintaining claims it desires press freedom, while simultaneously attempting to change the definition of ‘media’ in order to bring grave charges against Wikileaks — going so far as to deem published leaks akin to espionage.
While that couldn’t be further from reality, wrongdoings exposed in Wikileaks’ capacious searchable caches of documents veritably guarantee revelations will occasionally make headlines for years to come — and for American officials, that’s too dangerous to allow.
Hillary Clinton, herself the subject of countless damning emails and documents, has championed the clarion call to crucifixion of Assange under the premise Wikileaks, inexplicably in conjunction with Russia, threw the election from her clutches to gift a win to Donald Trump.
Taking “absolute personal responsibility” for the loss in one breath, Clinton claimed with forked tongue she “was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter, on October 28, and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me, but got scared off.”
Shifting blame shirks responsibility for the corruption and mendacity documents proved Clinton so fond, just as she had on previous occasions, so Assange responded accordingly.
Referencing the contents of Wikileaks’ various Clinton files, Assange pinged the former secretary of state as the “butcher of Libya.”
In fact, it is the failed presidential candidate’s countless maneuverings on interventionist U.S. foreign policy that left Libya and other nations — having been termed generically, ‘brutal dictatorships,’ prior to American encroachment — decimated beyond repair.
For many of those targets, including Libya, America’s particular brand of Freedom brought with it warlords of every stripe, spates of unhindered violence, and generally deplorable living and humanitarian conditions the original leaders would never have tolerated for civilians, no matter how totalitarian their style of rule.
Invading Libya under the premise Muammar Gaddafi was a tyrant proved to be a whopper of a lie — given the West discovered, to them, a panic-inducing plan by the Libyan leader to move all of Africa away from the almighty petrodollar in favor of the gold-backed dinar.
And that — the lie-shattering evidence in leaked documents from an ethical, free press, which officials could only deliver in their own, newly naked words — is why the media must have as free rein as possible to diligently scrutinize the State, lest its tendency to approve atrocities and justify appalling actions run amok.
It is in that vein Assange through his attorneys has requested the Swedish government drop its detention order against him, which has effectively made the editor a political refugee with limited asylum inside the Ecuadorian Embassy’s walls.
Allegations of sexual assault have been a millstone around Assange’s neck since he first arrived at the embassy in 2012 — Sweden’s detention order and its extradition friendliness with the United States effectively guaranteed his setting foot outside would earn arrest, removal to Sweden, and a short flight straight to an American prison cage under ridiculous espionage allegations.
In December 2016, SMS records proved police had fabricated the rape accusation against Assange — which should have led to Swedish officials to drop its interest in his detention.
Since that did not occur — and due to the Trump administration’s stated goal to relentlessly pursue the Wikileaks founder for acting with the enemy — Per Samuelson, one of the attorneys representing Assange, asserted Wednesday,
“Given that the U.S. is obviously hunting him now, he has to make use of his political asylum and it is Sweden’s duty to make sure that Sweden is no longer a reason for that fact he has to stay in the embassy.
“If they rescind the detention order, there is a possibility he can go to Ecuador and then he can use political asylum in an entire country.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo crushed centuries of press tradition recently, in terming Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service” — simply because a witch hunt befits the current establishment’s penchant for dodging any unfavorable spotlights on its corruption, greed, graft, and pomposity.
As the falling dominoes of liberty are tragically wont to do, should one publisher be characterized as hostile, it should be assumed any press outside the mainstream, corporo-government paradigm is considered equally a threat — and the thriving, imperative independent press would be next in line for execution.
Whatever miscreants have bought the State’s scaremongering about Wikileaks — that a free press is somehow antithetical to a free, functioning society — would do well to remember the freedom to choose among hundreds and thousands of media platforms, as opposed to a propaganda of just two flavors should the State take over those duties.
Until U.S. officials halt their war on journalism, it is perhaps a necessity to forget the First Amendment’s protection of the free press — words that hollow in practice should not be a boast permitted to a country acting in direct contradiction to the promise they once offered.