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News > World

Pilger, Burnside: Silencing of Julian Assange Part of Global Campaign to Restrict Speech, Journalism

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Britain, May 19, 2017.

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 April 2018

The filmmaker and the barrister talked about a general complicit attitude 

Australian Journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger and barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside have reiterated the call for the Ecuadorean government to restore communications access to Julian Assange, whose internet and phone privileges were restricted two weeks ago. Pilger and Burnside have also called the measure part of a global campaign restriction on freedom of speech and investigative journalism.


Ecuador Explains Restriction of Julian Assange Communications

In statements published Wednesday, Pilger and Burnside said the recent restrictions on information around the world, are aimed at silencing voices of major geopolitical conflicts such as the wars in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and Iraq.

“This is true journalism: telling the public what its rulers do behind their backs: calling great power to account without fear or favor. Of course, for those who walk on both sides of the street, who simultaneously snipe at and collaborate with corrupt power yet persist in describing themselves as ‘left’ or as independent ‘humanitarian’ agencies, Assange’s courage is shaming. For the rest of us, it is an inspiration," Pilger said.

He added: “The most unbowed and courageous dissenters are WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Remarkably, in spite of a vituperative smear campaign against him, Assange and WikiLeaks have continued to lift the rocks of criminal power and expose the lies that have sent hundreds of thousands to their deaths, along with the ties that bind organized jihadism with the likes of Hillary Clinton."

The Australian journalist said the role of the United States, France, and Britain in the Syrian war and their intentions that could potentially lead to a new world war, all with compliance of mainstream media outlets.

“Yet, there is a malign silence or the mantra of propaganda as news. Look below the surface, and the evidence points to a traditional ‘black ops’ campaign in collusion with or supported by the media, especially the ‘respectable’ liberal media," Pilger said.

According to Pilger, the media campaign is similar to the ones that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and then to Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.

“In my career as a journalist, I have never known anything like it. I would call it a war on journalism, waged not by sinister purveyors of fake news but by the very institutions that claim journalism’s highest mantle.”

Burnside, an Australian human rights and refugees advocate, called Assange's isolation “disturbing,” and pointed at the biased American justice system trying to judge him for informing the population.

“No one in the mainstream media has been hounded the way Assange has been. There is not a shred of evidence that Assange has done anything but publish material: just as the mainstream media do every day,” said Burnside.

“Perhaps the Murdoch press should have their access to the internet cut, and we would see a genuine democratic response to the utterly undemocratic treatment of Assange.”

An open letter signed by prominent intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek, as well as rock musician Brian Eno, filmmaker Oliver Stone, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, actress Pamela Anderson and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis also demanded Ecuador's government restore WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's internet and phone access, allow him visits and respect his right to freedom of expression.


Chomsky, Brian Eno Demand Ecuador #ReconnectJulian Assange

"If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now," the letter reads.

Assange was banned from accessing an internet connection and receiving visitors on March 28 after the Ecuadorean government said he had violated a 2017 agreement stating he would refrain from commenting on international political issues that could harm Ecuador's relations with foreign countries.

“The measure was adopted after Assange's failure to comply with the written commitment reached with the government in December 2017, in which he was obliged not to issue messages that implied interference in relation to other states,” said an official statement by Ecuador.

The Australian press has reported that electronic jammers were installed in the embassy to prevent Assange from making phone calls, he has also been banned from speaking to the media.

Also, a Change.org petition calling on the Ecuadorean government to re-establish internet and phone connections for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has garnered almost 60,000 signatures.

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