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The factual basis for the slaughter of the Holberg debate

ASSANGE / While Dagbladet's Inger Merete Hobbelstad claimed Julian Assange was allowed to speak "unanswered," Bergens Tidendes's Eirin Eikefjord gave him the psychiatric diagnosis of being paranoid. Did they have a basis for it?


During this year's Holberg debate, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was invited as one of the speakers. And with that, the organizers of the prestigious event let their audience hear a world-renowned dissident – the leader of the organization who has published more internal military and foreign policy documents from the superpower United States than anyone else, and source of inspiration for whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and many others.

(See comment from the debate.)

The only major daily newspapers that covered the Holberg debate were Bergens Tidende (BT) and Dagbladet. Their articles had in common that they did not refer to more than one sentence at a time on the content of submissions and that they focused on Assange not being allowed to speak or should have less talk. BT's Eirin Eikefjord called the whole debate a "factory for fake news" and prioritized peoples harassment – such as calling Assange a "paranoid narcissistic clown" – and conspiracy theories that he was in alliance with Russia. The newspaper's Inger Merete Hobbelstad claimed that Assange was allowed to speak "unreservedly" and even wrote that just seeing Assange and journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger on the talk list was reason enough to "have an idea" about the whole debate.

Ny Tid has asked both Hobbelstad and Eikefjord if they have a basis for their claims and characteristics.

Own conspiracy theories. In the BT article (4.12.), Two sites cite conspiracy theories that Russia and WikiLeaks are in the lead and conspire against liberal values ​​in a number of places around the world – such as France, Spain and the United States. Do you have any evidence of any of this, Eikefjord?

"I haven't seen any evidence, but I'm just referring to what is written in reputable media, which believes to have good coverage for what they write and can't judge the content. I quote a Guardian article pointing out that there is a striking community of interest between Assange and the Russian authorities in a number of cases, "Eikefjord says.

Court documents refer to Assange as "the only media producer and freedom fighter in the West in a situation a UN body characterizes as arbitrary deprivation of liberty".

While there has long been a consensus that revelations of those in power were a vital part of liberal democracy, Dagbladet's Hobbelstad, like Eikefjord, has more than insinuated that WikiLeaks' revelations of abuse of power by Western power elites serve Russia. Hobbelstad also believes that Assange's conclusion that Western mass media are also full of "fake news" is unreasonable: "Those who turn this expression on its head and start calling what the established media produces 'fake news' are usually authoritarian authorities looking to discredit the institution that writes critically about them, or conspiracy theorists from far and wide on either the right or the left. " On December 8, three of America's most important television channels published false news that WikiLeaks had given the Trump campaign exclusive access to the Clinton campaign's internal emails before last year's election.

"I have not seen evidence of the Russian accusations against Assange, I am only referring to what the reputable media has written." Eikefjord

Not very oriented? However, BT's Eikefjord goes even further and assigns Assange two psychiatric diagnoses – narcissist and paranoid. She calls Assange's use of the right to asylum "creeping into hiding". However, a number of American politicians have openly proposed to liquidate Julian Assange. The CIA says wants to "take down WikiLeaks". The whistleblower Chelsea Manning – who according to US courts has given many of the secret documents to WikiLeaks – was according to the UN body against torture subjected to "inhuman and degrading treatment" in captivity in the United States. Most recently, another year ago, another UN body, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions (UNWAD), ruled for the second time that Assange had been subjected to illegal detention and that Britain and Sweden must pay compensation.

When asked if it was reasonable to scold a persecuted dissident and call him "paranoid" in a derogatory sense in such a situation, Eikefjord replied that she had not heard of the UN committee's conclusion. Ny Tid therefore sent Eikefjord the UN document to find out if she still stood by the hate rhetoric against Assange. After reading this, the BT journalist replies: "Assange has powerful enemies, and probably good reason to be paranoid. That he is paranoid is illustrated, for example, when he calls the rape charges against him a 'radical, feminist conspiracy'. In any case, it has not been proven that Sweden will extradite him to the United States. The document you submitted does not change that. "

Recognized by court. While BT's journalist called the whole Holberg debate "a factory for fake news" mainly because of Assange – who she also said was "stripped of her ideals" about the search for truth – a British court recently stated the following about the whistleblowing organization: "WikiLeaks is a media organization publishes and comments on censored or withheld material on war, surveillance and corruption, which is leaked to the organization under varying circumstances. " Assange is described in the British court document as "the only media producer and freedom of expression activist in the West who is in a situation a UN body has characterized as arbitrary deprivation of liberty."

"'Fake news' is now used as a justification for discrediting or persecuting journalists?" Hobbelstad

When asked whether the violent rhetoric against Assange is in the face of facts, Eikefjord answers that "(ange) Assange was allowed to make gross, undocumented allegations from the university's own rostrum, without being confronted with his statements." She adds: "To substantiate the criticism of the scheme, it was necessary to show why Assange is perceived as controversial."

Fake news and mass media. To Ny Tid, Dagbladet's Hobbelstad says that: "(…) 'fake news' is now used as a justification for discrediting or persecuting journalists, and this is a development everyone who is concerned with accountability should fight against."

Hobbelstad also rejects Assange's media criticism, but fails to problematize, for example, the mass media's promotion of the liquidation of Assange – for example, the Washington Times column "Assassinate Assange?" and Fox News broadcast with Bob Beckel demanding that "son of a bitch Assange" be shot. After that, Bob Beckel got a job as a liberal commentator on CNN during last year's election campaign in the United States.

Hobbelstad also does not say anything about how the currently unfounded accusations that "Assange serves Russia" that she promotes in Dagbladet, stand in light of her commitment to discrediting persecuted journalists.

See comment from the debate.

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Eirik Vold
Former freelancer in MODERN TIMES. Today political adviser in Red.


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