WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange gave an exclusive interview to MSNBC last night and sent a word of warning to all journalists covering stories involving the US government.
There has been a “quite deliberate attempt to split off our organization from the First Amendment protections that are afforded to all publishers.”
“We have seen these statements, that The New York Times is, you know, also being looked at in terms of whether they have engaged in what they call ‘conspiracy to commit espionage,'” he said.
“If they want to push the line that when a newspaperman talks to someone in the government about looking for things relating to potential abuses, that that is a conspiracy to commit espionage, then that’s going to take out all the good government journalism that occurs in the United States,” he said.
I’m reminded of the story of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their investigation of the Nixon administration during the Watergate break-in. Before their story was published in the Washington Post, their source, “Deep Throat”, who later turned out to be FBI agent W. Mark Felt, warned the reporters that their lives were in great danger as they were about to publish the story. (Deep Throat claimed that the Watergate cover up was not to hide the burglaries, but “covert operations” involving “the entire U.S. intelligence community”.)
It’s only through a free and unabated press that governments are held accountable. Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve seen news organizations become mouthpieces for corporations, designed to elect candidates of their choice and campaign for causes that their shape agenda.
The move to discredit Assange can only be described as a PR move, designed to legitimize illegal behavior in past affairs. Whether it’s the US government, the Swedes, or other governments at the heart of the matter, it send a chilling message to journalists around the world.
The solution? More websites like WikiLeaks and brave people like Julian Assange to shed the light on wrongdoing…and watch the “cockroaches” run and hide!