WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson spoke with CN Live! in an interview after his appearance at Australia’s National Press Club.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Accurate reporting by the mainstream media on the case of Julian Assange is essential to his defense against a U.S. extradition request on charges of espionage, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told CN Live! in an interview after his appearance at Australia’s National Press Club on Tuesday.
Hrafnsson said he has seen a changing tide of support among mainstream journalists, especially in Australia. “I’m not sure if I have the overview of the entire press corps here, but it is heartening to meet so many who understood now the grave implications for press freedom that the case of Julian entails,” he said. “The great majority of those I talked to were supporting Julian and fighting against his extradition to the U.S.”
“The understanding is growing and the support of journalists is growing as well,” he said. “This is something that has been brewing for some time, ever since the arrest in April.”
The International Federation of Journalists in June in Tunisia voted without opposition a strong resolution condemning the extradition and treatment of Assange, he pointed out.
Hrafnsson said a few editorials in The New York Times or The Guardian warning against prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act did not constitute sufficient support by the Western mainstream media. It is “in essence a bad excuse of not taking bolder steps … through tough questions, what journalists are supposed to do in questioning authority.”
“We need more critical coverage” in the West, not just “scratching the surface” of an editorial, but an “overall view of the situation and the implications,” Hrafnsson said.
It is “very important” for British and American journalists to “play a role” as they are “gatekeepers” that have “a duty to report on such an important issue, fairly and with accuracy and with critical questions of those in power,” he said.
The Assange case touches the “fundamentals of their existence,” Hrafnsson added.
Since Sweden once again dropped its “preliminary” investigation into sexual assault allegations against Assange one would think the media would no longer use that smear against the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher.
“Well that smear has now been pushed aside,” Hrafnsson said. “Those that did the work to look into that situation” saw that the entire process was “very shameful,” he said.
The WikiLeaks editor said he hoped Assange’s lawyers in Sweden will take action against the government prosecution for mismanagement of the case, which has been “extremely hurtful to Julian.”
You can watch the entire interview here: