Julian Assange, the founder of the website WikiLeaks, released an editorial in an Australian newspaper just as he was arrested in Britain, in which he passionately defends his release of secret US embassy cables.
In a curious twist, Assange invoked media titan Rupert Murdoch in his defense. His editorial was published early Tuesday in The Australian, a paper owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation.
In his editorial, Assange begins, “in 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: ‘In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.’”
He continues, “His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.”
“Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public,” he adds.
The 39-year-old editor responded to claims that the publication of the US cables endangered lives. He said he views the charges as spurious.
“Not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed,” he wrote. “But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.”
“US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure,” he added. “The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.”
In conclusion, he lists what he views as the cables’ biggest exposes:
* The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
* King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked US officials to stop Iran ‘s nuclear program by any means available.
* Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests.”
* Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
* The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
He concludes, “In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said ‘only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.’ The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.”