The PEN Center in Slovenia has elected imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange as an honorary member, calling him the “bravest journalist and publicist of the last two decades.”
While PEN America’s director Suzanne Nossel is repeating every smear against Julian Assange and “is helping to uncoil the rope to string up the WikiLeaks publisher, a gross betrayal of the core mission of PEN,” according to journalist Chris Hedges, the PEN Center in Slovenia has elected him as an honorary member.
PEN, ‘Poets, Essayists, Novelists’ (later broadened to ‘Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists’), was founded in London in 1921. Here is the declaration of the Slovenian PEN Center:
On the first Monday of the new year 2022, the members of the Board of Directors of the Slovenian PEN Center unanimously elected Julian Assange as an honorary member of our center. We decided to take this step for two reasons: first, in the hope that, in addition to German and international support, our support will help Assange in his legal case, and second, because Julian Assange is the bravest journalist and publicist of the last two decades. He is professionally paying an extremely high price. To imprison someone just because he published the truth is contrary to all democratic arrangements based on freedom of speech and journalism as the fourth branch of government.
Julian Assange’s main fault is that he exposed the hypocrisy of world democracies with his posts on Wikileaks, especially when they are waging wars in foreign countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In today’s language, his “calvary” with the democratic courts is undoubtedly a typical example of SLAPP, strategic lawsuits to prevent public participation. When we condemn the prosecution of Julian Assange, we condemn the prosecution of every journalist and publicist in the world, including Slovenians, when they find themselves under pressure from influential people who want to conceal the truth.
The European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President Vera Jourova, has made freedom and independence of the media one of the most important goals of a democratic Europe in the Action Plan for European Democracy. Freedom of the press is to be specifically regulated by a new law on media freedom, which will go into effect in the autumn of 2022. Hopefully, it will protect all writers and whistleblowers.
We fear that for Julian Assange, marriage and with it the awareness of freedom of speech will come too late. In any case, prosecution ruined his life and deprived him of his basic human rights. And that’s just because he published the truth.
A democracy that suppresses the truth is certainly not a real democracy.
President of the Slovenian PEN Center
Board of Directors of the Slovenian PEN Center
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