WikiLeaks: The Last Interview?
By Al Giordano
I hope this this story we published today isn't the last interview that WikiLeaks' Julian Assange will be able to give. After all, US Army soldier Bradley Manning, accused of leaking more than 250,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest, denied access to news organizations. There are people in power that would like to see Assange silenced the same way, or worse.
The interview was conducted yesterday by Brazilian journalist Natalia Viana, graduate of the 2004 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, now co-chair, with Bill Conroy, of our investigative journalism program. It's a rare exclusive interview with an important newsmaker who doesn't give them often, and it was his final interview before his arrest this morning by British police pending hearings on his extradition to Sweden.
At today's US State Department press briefing, official spinner P.J. Crowley rattled sabers: "What we’re investigating is a crime under U.S. law. The provision of 250,000 classified documents from someone inside the government to someone outside the government is a crime. We are investigating it. And as we’ve said, we will hold those responsible fully accountable. That investigation is still ongoing."
For those readers who mainly or only check this page, The Field, this historic interview is yet another reason to put the Narco News front page, also, on your browser list for daily review.
My take on this controversy is very clean cut: Julian Assange did the work that most news organizations do when government documents are sent to us and they are newsworthy. He published them. His legal status is as a journalist, and he enjoys the same First Amendment protections under US law as the New York Times. Therefore, any attempt to prosecute him would be illegal and unconstitutional, and I don't believe it would - or should - survive in court.
I bet the Justice Department knows that also, and thus the screeching by the Secretary of State and her spokesman are no more than public tantrums combined with rattle shaking and pandering to the haters, out of frustration of working for a government with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of the press.
To prosecute WikiLeaks or its staff for practicing journalism would constitute a threat to all journalists and publications. It doesn't matter whether Assange is viewed as a hero, a villain or something human in between, or whether one is happy or not that these documents are coming to public light; under the law, he is a journalist. And that is the standard by which his work must be defended and protected by all journalists, especially the authentic ones.
Read the Julian Assange interview on Narco News, and base your own opinions on the facts.