Sex, Lies and Video Tapes: media in the digital age
Posted on December 15th, 2010

By Surangani Seneviratne

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The arrest of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder exposes how the free flow of information is controlled and the freedom of press is defined. Mr Assange descended from an awarded journalist to a man most wanted by the Interpol in a short time. He was the front man for WikiLeaks, the website initially hailed to up hold the freedom of speech in the digital age. During its infancy, Julian Assange received numerous awards for exposing sensitive documents up loaded by those who had excess to classified information. The manner in which Mr Assange turned from hero to villain exposes not only the censorship and the withholding of information that goes on in corridors of power. This also reveals the spin given to the whole ideal of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”freedom of speechƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and how the free flow of information is manipulated, and at times given toƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  creating ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”newsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ by those in power or with resources to control the media.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The technology to leakƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The internet provided an opportunity to individuals in any corner of the globe with the means of exposing state secrets with click of a button. The decoding technology that is for ever evolving helped potential whistleblowers to excess classified information. WikiLeaks made its dƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚©but in December, 2006 with various documents up loaded by Chinese dissidents and by 2008 had received several awards including Economist magazineƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s New Media Award and from the champion of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”freedom of speechƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Amnesty International UK Media Award for exposing political killings in Kenya. In the early years, WikiLeaks was placed among Facebook, Youtube and Wikipeadia, and Julian Assange was marked as most likely to succeed along with Mark Zuckerberg and co who created these respective entities on the web.

WikiLeaks / Julian AssangeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s work leaking secret government documents has been compared to Daniel EllsbergƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s leaking of Pentagon Papers in 1991. From Peru to Iceland, WikiLeaks had left trail of politicians and officials accountable. Engaged in ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”dialogueƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ with authorities in Beijing, Teheran and Moscow with leaked documents.

Hero to villain: the descent of Julian Assange

The conventional wisdom of all those who desire success, wealth and fame are to follow the rules set by those who control the global media. By 2008 / 2009 when sensitive documents up loaded to the website were not originating from Beijing, Moscow, Teheran, Pyongyang or Colombo. Julian Assange disregarded views of mainstream media and pursued the truth by publishing classified documents focusing on Washington DC. WikiLeaks was now leaking secrets and directing the glare of publicity on an area that was conveniently left out by the mainstream media.

In April 2010, WikiLeaks released video tapes ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Collateral MurderƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ showing 2007 Iraqi war killing of civilians by US forces. Followed by, July 2010 release of 76,900 leaked documents of US forcesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Afghan War Diary.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Julian Assange released ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Iraq War LogƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢- 400,000 leaked documents in October, 2010. And the US Diplomatic cables that are continuing to cause embarrassment and amusement started rolling out in November 2010. In an interview with Andy Greenberg / Forbes magazine on 29th November 2010, Mr Assange announced that a major release of leaked documents from ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”big US BanksƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and private sector was in the pipe line in 2011. When Andy Greenberg pressed on, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Bank of AmericaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ was named, resulting in a massive fall of share prices immediately.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Giving little credence to WikiLeaks for US diplomatic cables that revealed what the US thought of former Australian PM ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Kevin Rudd, in The Australian editorial on 9th December 2010, Rowan Callick laments the fact that Julian Assange targeted the US State Department. This has been the bane to all reporting on WikiLeaks / Julian AssangeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s disclosures in mainstream media.

In August, 2010, Reporters Without Borders, the group that is projected as the watch dog / protector of media freedom attacked WikiLeaks. Saying the website had ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”past usefulness in exposing serious violations of human rights and civil libertiesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, now has no credibility, methodology and there is an absence of editorial content. It appears that Reporters Without Borders cannot handle the truth about what comes out of Washington DC.

In other parts of the globe he is ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”a prisoner of conscienceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢

By mid 2010, law makers from Washington DC to Canberra were searching their respective annals of law to convict Julian Assange. The very nations that preached freedom of speech and human rights are seeking / developing legislature to censure or to imprison Julian Assange. Conservative US politicians such as Sarah Palin and Joe Lieberman want him hunted like a terrorist and internet servers / companies to deny service. Hillary Clinton and the US State Department are seeking means of charging him on espionage.

Simon Benson, the Daily Telegraph (Australia) on 10th December, 2010 reported that while Julia Gillard, PM claims the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”foundationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ of WikiLeaks is based on ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”illegal actƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the Attorney General- Robert McClellandƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s office is yet to find Australian laws that have been breached.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The Daily Telegraph went on to report how the sex crime charges Julian Assange faces originated at a Stockholm seminar in August, 2010. The two women who made charges of sexual crimes were at this seminar and are considered a honey trap- politically motivated sting.

In Australia, Julian AssangeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s country of birth, the sex crime charges are seen as a set up to persecute and eventually silence him. While well attended marches protest against his arrest, a massive petition is being organized to be published in US newspapers calling on Barrack Obama to stop the persecution of Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange is held in a cell in London with no access to newspapers or internet, and no laptop. And his lawyers and associates are under surveillance. In other parts of the globe an individual treated in this manner is ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”a prisoner of conscienceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and his case taken by Amnesty International.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ All leaks arenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t the same

Some sources have named as the forces behind WikiLeaks a handful of Chinese dissidents and a menagerie of internet geeks and left wing academics past their use by date. The facts are WikiLeaks has a world wide community of reviewers with expertise in language and IT to vet submitted documents, check background of the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”submitterƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and discuss/ scrutinize leaked documents to verify authenticity. Even the critics including Reporters Without Borders have to admit that WikiLeaks has never released misleading leaks or misattributed documents.

When questioned about verification, Julian Assange said ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”misleading leaksƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ are already well placed in the mainstream media. BritainƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Channel 4 could learn from WikiLeaks to verify leaked documents and tapes prior to broadcasting. There is a difference between the two media organizations. WikiLeaks is an independent organization committed to the truth, while Channel 4 is part and parcel of the mainstream media with ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”public service obligationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”promote multicultural societyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. Hence, Channel 4 would broadcast the violent, misleading tapes purported to be the Sri Lankan Army executing prisoners to please sections of this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”multicultural societyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. We can only hope that no human life was lost in making these fakes.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Award for their dissident and prison for our awarded journalist

Russian PM- Dmitry Medvedev is reported to have suggested that Julian Assange to be awarded the Nobel Peace Price. Mr Medvedev who was also unkindly referred to in the leaked US diplomatic cables must be stating an irony ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Julian Assange gets prison for dissent while ChinaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s dissident Liu Xiaobo is awarded the Nobel Peace Price. Russia is well aware of the political nature of the Nobel Peace Price and Norwegian habits of rewarding.

Amnesty International, an organization that protects prisoners of conscience and human rights has been silent on the Julian AssangeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s arrest and persecution. UNƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Navi Pillai has given a mixed massage ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” protesting on free speech while at the same time approving Julian AssangeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s arrest.

The future of freedom of speech and internet censorship is being tested here. US, Australia and other nation that preach human rights and up hold freedom of speech are increasing internet censorship and curtailing free speech within their shores. In this background, would WikiLeaks be shut down or would it be reinvented. The later is more likely – pursuing leaks exclusively from Beijing, Moscow, Teheran, Pyongyang or Colombo.

4 Responses to “Sex, Lies and Video Tapes: media in the digital age”

  1. helaya Says:

    It is absolute truth that freddom of speech defined by the colonila masters and other countries should follow their lead. By the way Suragani Medvedev is no the PM. He is the president and PM is Mr. Putin. Thanks for well written article.

  2. Sri Rohana Says:

    A Great Article Surangani!
    It is again proved the Anglo Saxon and Caucasian hypocrisy. If Asange leaked any secret documents of either Russia or China, within few minutes he will become a hero and that itself enough to qualify for the Nobel Peace award.
    Unexpected to USA, UK, Sweden, Swiss and Europeans Asange exposed some documents of the American neo colonial spy services in abroad. As Russian President very correctly states that Asange should award with the noble peace prize.
    That’s true reporters sans frontier, International reporters, Reuters, Channel 4, BBC world service and AFP all are numb as their master USA is exposed to the whole world.

  3. AsokaK Says:

    US warlords want to extradite Julian for no crime but has refused to extradite two terrorists, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosh, for blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976 and a Havana hotel a few years ago.

    I can go on & on about the world’s biggest war criminal in history- against Cuba, Nicaragua , Panama, Grenada et al.

    Pl visit to get the real daily news.

    Jayawewa Julian !

  4. Sri Rohana Says:

    Julian Asange no doubts now highest enemy of Nazi America and her NATO henchmen. Now to them Asange is more dangerous than Bin Laden.
    Their freedom of media or transparency or democracy is there to gossiping on other countries. Now every tom and dick that is depends from nazi American neo colonial dictator started to show his or her solidarity with the master. It is non-second to mafia gangsters. When dog is attacked that more worried to fleas. Amazon withdrew the sponsorship. Then many state sponsored hackers attacked the Wiki-Leaks website. Bank of America stopped of taking credit card payment to Wiki-Leaks. In recent history this must be the highest harassed media organization.
    If they are the guru’s of free media concept then why they harassed those who give information’s to WikiLeaks. One single example of WikiLeaks suspect’s prison condition shows us so-called western democratic cruelty. “Details of the detention conditions of private Bradley Manning – the US soldier who is alleged to have supplied classified government documents to WikiLeaks.
    For the last seven months, Manning age 23, has been kept in a cell 1.8m by 3.5m with maximum security at Quantico, Virginia. If convicted he is faces 52 years sentence. Under the rules Manning is not allowed to sleep between 5am–8pm. If he does guards make him sit up or stand. He is allowed one hour of exercise a day. He is not allowed to associate with fellow inmates. Guards have to check every five minutes that Manning is there. He is not allowed a pillow or sheets.
    The other question is where is the amnesty international and human right watch or human right activists for Bradley Manning.

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