Theater of Cruelty

Today it is Assange. Who's next?

THE ABUSE OF POWER / : What will the arrest of Assange mean for freedom of the press and respect for law?


There is no more important credo and ideal of action for a journalist than to reveal the abuse of power. Julian Assange has given face to this credo. The abusers have never forgiven him. Today, they seem to have won a victory by being arrested despite not being charged with anything criminal.

Today we must remember that the warnings and leaks conveyed by Assange and Wikileaks have revealed war crimes and abuses – and in such numbers – that they are difficult to describe and impossible to comprehend. Worse, we have gradually come to expect that the crimes have not led to any kind of prosecution, or punishment.

The media

But as a journalist and reader, I find it most unbearable that large groups of the media – including Norwegian – have allowed this uncommented, even directed the other way and col- lected the abusers' arguments and attacked the whistleblowers and mediators with lies and blasphemy.

In Norway, the press reached a bottom level then Bergens Tidende (Eirin Eikefjord) and Dagbladet (Inger Merete Hobbelstad) in 2017 looked out for Julian Assange and John Pilger in the Holberg debate at the University of Bergen. In silent cowardice, they failed to participate in the debate, but subsequently filled the gaps with arguments, attitudes and lies taken straight out of the rhetoric of the Pentagon and the White House. It is to be hoped that PEN's call to see the seriousness of what is happening in London these days will make even these media obsessive. For now it's serious.

Assange has revealed war crimes and abuses so abominable that they are difficult to describe and impossible to comprehend.

Through Wikileaks has Assange for years, and with great sacrifices this credo lived up to its ruined health today. What we journalists, readers and world citizens owe him for this can hardly be measured. When, after seven years, he falls victim to a badly veiled conspiracy between war criminals in the United States, corrupt Ecuadorian leaders and a British parody of a state leadership, the press should have a clear task.

Norwegian PEN

We who have grown up with the ethical and journalistic compass that icons such as Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and Seymore Hersh have drawn in life and teach, naturally ask vital questions when we read or produce journalism that deals with the abuse of power. In Norway, Norwegian PEN navigates as expected after this compass. They express shock at what the arrest of Assange means for freedom of the press and respect for laws.

From the arrest.

It is also good that sensible international voices, such as Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake, Jeremy Corbyn and Glenn Greenwald, need to know about the revealed abuses in the otherwise deafening silence. They are now calling for war and calling for joint action against the demand for extradition – to draconian laws and practices in the United States.

Also read: I'm Julian

The editors also recommend John Pilgers comment here.

John Y. Jones
John Y. Jones
Cand. Philol, freelance journalist affiliated with MODERN TIMES

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