On May 3, 2019 —World Press Freedom Day—we, the undersigned journalists and media workers endorse the statement made by the Australian Walkley Foundation in 2011, that WikiLeaks has shown “a courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: Justice through transparency,” and demand free press protections for all media workers.
We believe that the ongoing targeting of WikiLeaks and Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange for prosecution on possible espionage charges by the U.S. administration poses a serious risk to journalists and media outlets in Australia, the United States, and around the globe. The defense of WikiLeaks and Assange from persecution is a crucial battle in the defense of freedom of the press more broadly.
In a time when the Trump administration has labelled the press the “enemy of the people,” WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” and national security is being invoked increasingly to control reporting globally, the chilling precedent that would be set by legal prosecution of Assange must be resisted.
We note that the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian Union representing all journalists and media workers, has stated that “Campaigning for press freedom, for the right of journalists to go about their business without harassment, persecution, or censorship is at the very core of the work of MEAA.”
We also note that the MEAA was very vocal in supporting Julian Assange in 2010, and in fact gave him a lifetime membership as recognition of his contributions to the media. In 2011, MEAA also welcomed WikiLeaks winning the prestigious Walkley Award for “Most Outstanding Contribution to the Media.” However, since this time they have not made any public statements or passed any motions in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, despite his worsening situation.
Therefore, we demand that the MEAA do everything in its power to advocate on behalf of their member, Julian Assange. We also urge that the MEAA issue a statement condemning the re-jailing of Chelsea Manning, an alleged WikiLeaks source, in an effort to coerce her to testify against Julian Assange.
Mobilizing journalists and other media workers around the world in defense of Julian Assange is a crucial step in building a movement to free Julian Assange and protect a free press.
As such, we demand that the United Kingdom allow Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy safe from extradition and persecution in the U.S. and as dictated by Inter-American Court of Human Rights and U.N. rulings, and that Western countries, including the United States, recognize Julian Assange as both a publisher and journalist deserving of the same protections given to other media workers.
Phillip Adams (AO), Journalist, ABC Radio National
Rico Brouwer, Independent journalist, musician, songwriter, producer of Potkaars.nl
Naomi Colvin, Whistleblower activist and writer, New Internationalist
Adrian du Plessis, Investigative/Writer, J’Accuse News
Patrick Farnsworth, Producer, Last Born in the Wilderness
Chris Graham, Publisher and Editor, New Matilda
Torstein Grude, Film Producer and Writer, Piraya Films
David Heller, Classconscious.org
Dr. Lissa Johnson, Clinical Psychologist and New Matilda Columnist
Carlos Latuff, Political Cartoonist
Bailey Lamon, Independent Writer
Niamun Nahar, Assistant Professor, Dept. Of Mass Communication and Journalism, Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur, Bangladesh
Andrei Nekrasov, Film Director and Writer
Salim Reza Newton, Associate Professor, Dept. of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Rob Same, Writer
Jeff Sparrow, Guardian columnist; 3RRR Breakfaster; writer
Alan L. Stewart, Author, Publisher of Carpe DiEM25 – USA Review Weekly
Tore Vollan, Cinematographer
Whitney Webb, Staff Writer, MintPress News