God Forbid the Media Should Look at the Facts

By Andrew Cockburn

Today, February 20, Julian Assange will have his last chance to appeal the order for his extradition from Britain to the United States. The unremitting campaign to crush one of the most consequential journalist of our era may be on the brink of success. But while the press bestows tears by the bucketful on the memory of Alexei Navalny, media eyes are cold and dry for Assange, persecuted for the crime of telling us what we needed to know.

dont extradite assange truck with protestor

The campaign to discredit Assange was artfully constructed and implemented, but it required the active complicity of the press in suppressing the truth. A year ago I published the following article in Harper’s magazine to set the record straight. Sadly, there is little reason to change what I wrote. (The Committee to Protect Journalists still refuses to acknowledge Assange as an imprisoned journalist.)

Every year on the first of December, the Committee to Protect Journalists publishes its global prison census, documenting the number of journalists behind bars around the world. The 2022 edition set a grim record: 363, the highest ever. Scanning the list—organized alphabetically by first name—and scrolling down to the J’s, we see that Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, publisher of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, has been locked up since 2021 on charges of money laundering, a victim of the Ortega dictatorship’s crackdown on independent media. Next is Juret Haji, the director of the Xinjiang Daily, detained since 2018 after a colleague was accused of being “two-faced,” a routine Chinese government accusation.

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