"I want to live in a world that sends war criminals to prison, and does not imprison those who have the courage to report criminals or journalists who expose the crimes," Maurizii writes in the book. The Secret Power.
The book was published by Chiarelette publishing house this summer and was sold out immediately. Now it has come in a new edition, also as an e-book. But will the release, interest, and engagement of readers be enough for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who revealed government secrets, to avoid life in prison in the United States?
A bitter truth
Maurizi brings several bitter truths to light, but the most bitter of them all is the fact that a democratic society does not exist, and that Assange has been unfree ever since the first WikiLeaks revelation. It is not surprising that the British film director Ken Loach
in the book's preface writes "this is a book that will make you really cursed". It will. Precisely because the book leaves no room for doubt.
Stefania Maurizi is an excavation journalist who has worked closely with Assange
ever since they contacted her in 2009, when they needed a journalist to verify leaked documents related to Italy, and get help to assess how much interest the documents would arouse in the Italian people.
At the time, Maurizi worked for L'Espresso and La Repubblica, now she writes for Il Fatto Quotidiano. She has always been one of the journalists with a close relationship with Assange. She is now testifying in the trial in London, where US authorities have demanded that Assange be extradited to the United States. Maurizi has also been spied on, presumably on behalf of US security forces, in the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange lived and had political asylum.
Let me remind you of what happened in April 2010: WikiLeaks published video footage of two American Apache helicopters crashing down a dozen people, including two journalists, in a suburb of Baghdad in 2007. The video became known as Collateral Murder.
Together with documents WikiLeaks published about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the video clips showed the harsh reality behind such wars, and provided a completely different information than the one usually served to the people from the propaganda machinery.
Leaked emails and communications to and from US diplomats have revealed secrets from several countries' authorities that are significant to this day. These documents revealed what Maurizi calls "secret power" – the secrets of the authorities hidden behind the label "state secret", a label that does not protect citizens but whose purpose is to hide crimes committed by powerful officials. It also guarantees that the people who commit the crimes will not be punished for them. This "secret power" is the reason why Assange risks 175 years in prison.
For the same reason, Assange and WikiLeaks have been challenged in every conceivable way since WikiLeaks published the first leaked documents. Both motives and documents have been challenged and cast doubt on. Maurizi is obviously aware of this, and every single sentence in the book shows her efforts to avoid any doubt – and also reveals that the doubt that was sown around Assange and WikiLeaks was created on purpose.
She has spent 13 years as a digging journalist studying secret and classified documents about WikiLeaks and Assange. Six years were spent in legal battles over the Freedom of Information Act in four different countries (England, USA, Australia and Sweden) to obtain documents on the case and do something no other journalist has managed: To request documents and then reconstruct what actually happened.
For example, she has reconstructed – step by step – the circumstances surrounding the allegations of rape that ultimately led to Assange's refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Maurizi is good here, and demonstrates how credible and reliable journalism is written. The reconstruction is based on a number of sources, including public archives of governments and private firms. One of them is Stratfor
, a private security company from the USA that buys and sells information for rich and powerful clients (governments, media etc.) who have close ties to the FBI, US authorities, media and others.
She fails to comment on the information she presents, but still tells of her own experience around various incidents, for example when the prosecutor in Stockholm dropped the rape charges ("no crime was committed") and Assange was to meet her and other journalists in Berlin, but lost her luggage its on the flight.
Not just freedom
The main point? That Assange has a giant and powerful opponent. Since April 11, 2019, he has been imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison in England. If the United States wins the battle in court, Assange will be sent to the United States and locked up, isolated, in a high-security prison on a par with hardened criminals.
Other WikiLeaks journalists are also living dangerously. But what is at stake here is not just the freedom of the founder of WikiLeaks and other journalists, but the struggle for a journalism that can reveal secrets of the highest levels of power in the military, police and secret services – a struggle for democracy.