Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Terminating WikiLeaks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Can the founder and publisher of the website WikiLeaks, which was considered a revolution in the world of investigative journalism – a profession based upon independence and transparency, go on to present a television program via a Kremlin-funded channel?

How can Julian Assange, who flagrantly exposed Western governments and their departments with documents revealing corruption, torture and the hidden dirt of the intelligence services, be part of a propaganda machine of a regime spearheaded by Vladimir Putin, who as we all know has a bloody history whether in Chechnya, in pursuing and suppressing internal opponents, and in supporting authoritarian regimes such as Iran and Syria?

“The World Tomorrow”, presented by Assange via the satellite channel “Russia Today”, is not investigative journalism, and it is certainly not independent.

Assange is fully aware of this contradiction, and he has announced openly that he does not care about it.

“In the case we are in at the moment, where our (WikiLeaks) major confrontation is with the West”, is literally what Assange said in a recent interview conducted whilst under house arrest at his residence in southern England, the headquarters from where he produces his interviews [for The World Tomorrow] via satellite.

So WikiLeaks’ battle is now with the West, and therefore it is acceptable to overlook the policies of the Kremlin and Putin.

We do not know the timeframe of this battle with the West, or how it will end for Assange, but as long as the target now is the West he will remain allied with the Russia Today channel, which he considers to be the “natural partner” to broadcast his material.

All of the above is not intended to undermine the real achievements made by the website Wikileaks, in terms of enlightening global public opinion. It is also not my objective to compare other media outlets to Russia Today and claim that they are examples of impartiality and independence. The point is that when Assange finds no problem with benefitting from the Kremlin in his “battle with the West”, and when his interviews, the first of which was with the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, are conducted in such a light-hearted manner, this does not fit with the credibility WikiLeaks has gained over the course of its work.

During his first episode, it seemed that the WikiLeaks founder was willingly playing into the hands of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, and he did not call upon any of the documents in his possession during the program. An interview with Nasrallah is one of the political moments that we live for, and in such a case a journalist cannot behave as Assange did. Nasrallah’s popularity has plummeted during the Syrian revolution to unprecedented levels, due to his siding with the regime against the people, and Hezbollah’s stance towards Arab revolutions that has fluctuated between welcoming the Egyptian revolution, then retracting this welcome, then denying the Syrians their right to a revolution, and ultimately displaying a bias towards the revolution in Bahrain. There is a clear sectarian line separating these positions, but all this was absent from Assange’s discussion.

Assange’s third interview was with the Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, during which Assange seemed to be the guest for much of the time, evoking his experiences in comparison with those of Marzouki. This is not a characteristic of an investigative journalist.

It would not be a lie to suggest that Assange is threatening the WikiLeaks experiment through indulging himself in a poor television performance. Regardless of the debate that accompanied the initial publication of the WikiLeaks documents, these documents set an extraordinary and significant precedent in the field of investigative journalism. It is clear that the website’s founder is now exploiting its investigative legacy.