Caitlin Johnstone: How The Guardian Can Help Assange

The most effective way for the paper to help end the publisher’s persecution is to publicly acknowledge the many bogus stories they published about him and correct the record. 

The Guardian building in London, 2012. (Bryantbob, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone 

Listen to a reading of this article.

The Guardian has joined The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País in signing a letter from the five papers that collaborated with WikiLeaks 12 years ago in publishing the Chelsea Manning leaks, to call on the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange.

This sudden jolt of mainstream support came just before news broke that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been personally pushing the U.S. government to bring the Assange case to a close.

The Guardian’s participation in this letter is particularly noteworthy, given the leading role that publication has played in manufacturing public support for his persecution in the first place.

If The Guardian really wants to help end the persecution of the heroic WikiLeaks founder, the best way to do that would be to retract those many smears, spin jobs and outright lies, and to formally apologize for publishing them.

This is after all the same Guardian that published the transparently ridiculous and completely invalidated 2018 report that former President Donald Trump’s lackey Paul Manafort had met secretly with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, not once but multiple times.

Not one shred of evidence has ever been produced to substantiate this claim despite the embassy being one of the most heavily surveilled buildings on the planet at the time. The Robert Mueller investigation, whose expansive scope would obviously have included such meetings, reported absolutely nothing to corroborate it.

It was a bogus story which all accused parties have forcefully denied and no serious person believes is true, yet to this day it still sits on The Guardian’s website without retraction of any kind.

This is the same Guardian that ran an article in 2018 titled, “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride,” arguing that Assange looked ridiculous for continuing his political asylum in the embassy because “the WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US.” The article was authored by James Ball, which begins:

“According to Debrett’s, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: ‘Visitors, like fish, stink in three days.’ Given this, it’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.”

This is the same Guardian that published an article titled “Definition of paranoia: supporters of Julian Assange,” arguing that Assange defenders are crazy conspiracy theorists for believing the U.S. would try to extradite Assange because, “Britain has a notoriously lax extradition treaty with the United States … why would they bother to imprison him when he is making such a good job of discrediting himself?” The paper added:  “there is no extradition request.”

This is the same Guardian that published a ludicrous report about Assange potentially receiving documents as part of a strange Nigel Farage/Donald Trump/Russia conspiracy, a claim based primarily on vague analysis by a single anonymous source described as a “highly placed contact with links to U.S. intelligence.”

The same Guardian that has flushed standard journalistic protocol down the toilet by reporting on Assange’s “ties to the Kremlin” (not a thing) without even bothering to use the word “alleged” on more than one occasion.

The same Guardian that advanced many more virulent smears as documented in a 2018 article by The Canary titled, “Guilty by innuendo: the Guardian campaign against Julian Assange that breaks all the rules.”

Even the wording of the joint letter itself is dishonest when coming from The Guardian.

“This group of editors and publishers, all of whom had worked with Assange, felt the need to publicly criticise his conduct in 2011 when unredacted copies of the cables were released, and some of us are concerned about the allegations in the indictment that he attempted to aid in computer intrusion of a classified database,” the letter reads. “But we come together now to express our grave concerns about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified materials.”

As we’ve discussed previously, the narrative that Assange recklessly published unredacted documents in 2011 is another smear.

The unredacted files were actually published elsewhere as the result of a real password being recklessly published in a book by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding (the same Luke Harding who co-authored the bogus Manafort-Assange story). Assange took extraordinary measures to try to minimize the damage that was done by those Guardian reporters, but wound up getting thrown under the bus and blamed for their actions anyway.

If The Guardian is sincere in its stated desire to see the end of the persecution of Julian Assange, the single most effective thing it could do to help advance that goal would be to publicly acknowledge that it helped to deceive the world about him, and work to correct the record.

The only reason Assange’s case doesn’t have more support currently is because so much of the public has been deceived into believing that what’s happening is not the unconscionable persecution of a journalist for telling the truth, but rather the righteous prosecution of a sinister Russian agent who has broken laws and endangered lives.

The Guardian easily played a larger role in manufacturing that collective misconception than any other single news outlet in the world, and as such it could do tremendous good by retracting and apologizing for its publications which fed into it.

This is the sort of thing a publication would do if it was really interested in truth, justice, and journalistic ethics. Is it what the people who run The Guardian will choose to do? I highly doubt it.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

18 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: How The Guardian Can Help Assange

  1. Carl Zaisser
    December 2, 2022 at 09:48

    and in addition to correcting the record on their own reporting, they could turn around and organize a massive letter writing campaign from the British public, and other public, advocating that people lean on Washington and London big time.

    • robert e williamson jr
      December 3, 2022 at 00:54

      Or they could announce that from this point forward they will report the true representation of the facts and not opinions or or otherwise directed opinions.

      Caitlin has offered these idiots an “out”, in the process proving just how difficult it is to fix the damage delivered by the raving of the demented authorities .

      What a true global tragedy, an unprecedented assault on one human because he promoted truth in the time when fiction reined. So much f0r the balance of power being alive and well in the U.S. system of Federal governance.

      Thanks CN

  2. michael888
    December 2, 2022 at 08:54

    My first thought when the State Media jumped to ask that charges be dropped against Assange (after no support since he found asylum in 2012) was that he must be dying, and the media wanted “to be on the right side of history”.

    I would think much better of Joe Biden, he would be a lesser monster if he pardoned Assange. We can hope.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    December 2, 2022 at 05:58

    You really expect The Guardian to admit to anything like this? I find it a rather biased news outlet – sticking with the US side no matter what. Two peas in a pod…

  4. ray Peterson
    December 1, 2022 at 19:24

    Nothing like the truth, no matter how much it hurts by
    revealing in this case the Guardian’s betrayal of authentic
    journalism. Thanks Cait.

    December 1, 2022 at 16:45

    The powers in America who are pushing to punish Julian are doing it to hide war crimes, something the last Australian government also did when it’s last Prime Minister, one S. Morrison was desperately trying to emulate one, DJ Trump. Now, the current Australian government is seeking establish justice for it’s war crimes. It’s time for America to do the same and free Julian Assange.

    • lester
      December 3, 2022 at 13:10

      US governments have been committing war crimes pretty steadily since at least 1950 and no big shots are ever punished. (Unless you consider life in Texas a punishment…).

  6. December 1, 2022 at 16:31

    The Guardian should do more than retract and apologize. If there were worth anything, they would publish daily articles demanding his immediate release!

  7. Rex Williams
    December 1, 2022 at 16:04

    My letter to The Canberra Times in Australia

    With the comment by our Prime Minister stating that he was talking with the US on the release of Julian Assange, may I respectfully suggest he take just five minutes of his time to read this article by Australian Caitlin Johnstone which has appeared in her own blog on the web as well as having been reprinted in respectable publications such as Consortium News, as this this URL shows.
    It shows the extent to which The Guardian went to assist the US government to commence the show trial based in a servile country like the UK and the depth of media and public support for his immediate release. There is very little chance that The Guardian will ever add to its now seriously depleted readership anywhere, after a carefully constructed program of lies. Read it, Mr. Albanese and make a decision. After all, you just gave the warmongering USA a nuclear base in the Northern Territory, so they owe you.
    Just do it.

  8. rosemerry
    December 1, 2022 at 14:31

    As well as all these “journalist” lies, we see hacks like the disgusting Luke Harding who is still at the Sycophant(aka guradian) and has of course worked from Kiev. Go back to his interview by the masterful Aaron Maté long ago on the Real News network to see the sort of infrahuman can infest the sycophant.

  9. firstpersoninfinite
    December 1, 2022 at 12:52

    It seems to me that these “newspapers” suddenly supporting the dropping of the illegal case against Assange are just hedging bets against the actual occurrence of what they have facilitated for years – his continued imprisonment, or his extradition to certain demise. It’s really just a flaccid, “we tried,” throwing up of their hands. The same day that the Guardian ran this letter supporting not Assange, but their fears of being found complicit in his journalistic endeavors, they also published an execrable screed about the “danger” of free speech “absolutists.” It was a swipe at Elon Musk, which isn’t hard to do, but it had this little gem: “The ultimate cause of that demise (Twitter) will be the failure of Musk to understand that for some speech to be free, other speech has to be limited.” You see, we’re supposed to forget that platforms like Twitter only exist in the first place because free speech was once thought to be something “absolute.” Now that it’s not convenient to the narrative, platforms must control what is said and who says it because “free speech” might question the prevailing narrative. When all else fails, just move the goalposts – but only after the goalposts, the field of play, and the stadium itself has been built by the corporation advancing the narrative.

  10. Wendy LaRiviere
    December 1, 2022 at 12:12

    This story of the Guardian’s disgraceful role in the persecution of Julian Assange has never been told better. This newspaper would have us forget the terrible injustices it has inflicted on Assange, especially in its piling on with the anonymously sourced story of his having been visited in the Ecuadorian Embassy by Paul Manafort. Bravo, Caitlin!

  11. Joseph Tracy
    December 1, 2022 at 11:43

    Great article backing the case for The Guardian’s dishonesty and malfeasance with example after example. In truth they should admit to being part of an international intelligence agency effort to corrupt journalism and destroy the most important publisher of state secrets in this century. They should also be firing some people .

  12. RomfordRob
    December 1, 2022 at 10:55

    As usual Caitlin Johnstone hits nails on the head. However, the main question I have remains— what the bloody hell is going on?? Yes, any media worth jug of spittle would have kept up a constant drumbeat over the past 11 years(!!!!), pointing out the outrageous persecution of Julian Assange. So — why this turnaround, and why now??

    • Valerie
      December 1, 2022 at 12:44

      It does make one wonder, I agree. But as long as it facilitates the release of Julian, then we must go along with the charade, whatever the reason. He and Stella and children need all the help they can acquire. We can analyse the reasons at our leisure once he is FREE.

  13. Michael Perry
    December 1, 2022 at 05:04

    For over 15 years, the United States has imposed sanctions in response to activities of the Venezuelan
    government and Venezuelan individuals, triggering economic collapse, mass poverty, inflation, etc..

    According to the U.S. Treasury’s statement on Saturday, Chevron Corporation was authorized to
    “resume limited natural resource extraction operations,” as long as Venezuela’s government
    does not receive “any profits from the oil sales by Chevron.” Under the policy, the extracted
    oil can only be exported to the US and the profits can only be directed to repaying the debts owed
    to Chevron, which has joint ventures with state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).

    The newly-granted license specifically prohibits the “payment of any taxes or royalties to the
    Government of Venezuela,” or payment of “any dividends, including a dividend in kind” to any
    entity owned or controlled by PDVSA.

    Earlier on Saturday, the sides signed a framework agreement to establish the [… stolen…]
    UN-managed fund to finance health, food and education programs using the frozen Venezuelan assets.
    Maduro called the agreement an “important step for the well-being of our country,” after previously
    stating that his “effort will always be the dialogue with the entire Venezuelan society.”

    The american government is a disease upon this planet … It is not the friend of venezuela …


    And what of Elon Musk and his purchase of Twitter???

    Biden, Yellen and the E.U. are all over him to insure their 44 billion compliance of [..their..] elections…

  14. Andrew Nichols
    December 1, 2022 at 04:55

    They could also bring to the Brit mainstream, the shocking series of breaches of justice any one of which would have halted the Assange show trial had it not been political from the outset.

  15. Afdal
    December 1, 2022 at 03:45

    Thanks for the reminder, Caitlin. Even in the final hour when their profession is about to be eviscerated, they still can’t resist the urge to disgrace themselves with lies.

Comments are closed.