The fate of journalism and Julian Assange

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson writes

Remember Terry Hicks? He is the father of David Hicks, former Guantanamo Bay detainee. Terry is a hero of mine, and features in a spray painting by @jamin.artist on the wall of my Parliament House office. 

I want to be reminded of Terry’s long hard struggle for the release of his son. He moved mountains with his endurance and the power of love for his son. As he stood in a cage in Times Square and Martin Place, sometimes spat upon, he never gave up. Although his son was considered a terrorist by our ally and many here in Australia, Terry never gave up. A massive community campaign resulted and that pressured the Howard government to lean on our close friend the USA, which saw David brought home to Australia. 

In December I showed this painting to Kristinn Hrafnsson and told him this story. An award-winning journalist and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn came to Australia to speak at the National Press Club about the situation of Julian Assange. A similar endurance and broad community campaign is going to be necessary before we see Julian home, and until that day, I intend to continue the Greens’ enduring recognition of the dangerous precedent Assange’s case sets. 

In October, it ceased to be only the Greens getting this. For the first time in 10 years, we were joined by others and I’m proud to be part of the new Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, co-chaired by fellow Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie, joined in the group also by Richard Di Natale, Adam Bandt and Nick McKim. 

When Kristinn met with parliamentarians and their staff, he discussed Assange’s terrible health situation. Isolated in a single cell on the health ward of Belmarsh prison for around 22 hours a day, the hallways are cleared when Assange walks through. It’s important to remember he has been detained for nine years for publishing information, spending ten days in Wandsworth Prison, 18 months under virtual house arrest, seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and since 11 April 2019 he has been in Belmarsh maximum security prison. 

Moments after entering a UK courtroom on 11 April 2019, what occurred was what Julian and his legal team have predicted for almost a decade. The United States requested Julian’s extradition for the publishing activities of WikiLeaks, first unsealing a single charge under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, followed some weeks later by 17 additional charges under the Espionage Act – its first use against a publisher in US history, in which there is no public interest defence. If you read the indictments, they describe routine journalistic practices of taking measures to protect the identity of a source, and receiving and publishing information.

Finally, Kristinn thanked Eli Jessup, who received a $50 fine in court the day after Kristinn’s Press Club address for scaling Parliament House. The magistrate noted that many would commend Eli’s humanitarian response to Assange’s situation.

read full article on the The Greens web site