Julian Assange and the Contempt That Surrounds Him

The British and American media have shown that they aren’t the biggest fans of Julian Assange. From comments about his socks being dirty to one of the latest articles by British lawyer and legal correspondent for the New Statesman, David Allen Green, in which he explores what he calls the “legal myths” surrounding the Assange extradition. Why is there all this contempt though?

Growing up, people are always taught that journalists should be unbiased and simply reporting the facts as they are. Clearly when it comes to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, journalists are finding it difficult to take this position which many find mindboggling considering what his journalistic actions have achieved.

In 2010 Wikileaks began releasing thousands of confidential United States diplomatic cable reports. They came from all around the world and provided anyone with access to the internet the opportunity to learn some of the globe’s best kept secrets. By doing so, he was providing journalists everywhere with more scoops than they could possibly have hoped to see in their lifetime had they worked by themselves, and that is possibly where the problem lies.

Some believe that the personalised attacks on Assange by journalists are due to jealousy and professional competition. Assange isn’t technically a journalist and he achieved what they couldn’t. He provided them with months of stories and it’s possible that, in a professional capacity, they can’t help but resent him for that.

Childish motives aside though, it may also be about protecting the institution. While many journalists see themselves as outside of the system because they report on it, it’s hard to pretend that they aren’t part of the accepted power hierarchy. The media is an institution and Assange and Wikileaks threatens that hierarchy and their own institution.

Throughout their personalised attacks on the man and their willingness to believe his guilt and be cynical over his bid for asylum, most have not taken the time to think about the repercussions. Should Assange be extradited to Sweden and then possibly face extradition to the United States, he most likely would be found guilty of treason and jailed or maybe even be sentenced to death; and what would that say about how free press freedom really is?

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