CJA and TUCJ – gathering of support: without a free Assange, there will be no free media

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Source/Author: CJA and HINA
Source/Photo: CJA / Nikola Šolić

In front of the Journalists’ House in Zagreb, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ) held a gathering expressing opposition to the extradition and solidarity with Julian Assange as his hearing took place at the Royal Court of Justice in London regarding the extradition case initiated by the United States against the founder of WikiLeaks.

“The idea behind this global action is that the potential extradition of Julian Assange is a warning message to all journalists, citizens, the public, and the freedom of our work. We want to send a message of support and oppose the extradition, which we consider a direct attack on press freedom,” said TUCJ President Maja Sever at the gathering.

Branko Mijić, a member of the executive board of the CJA, emphasized that the potential extradition of Assange is a political persecution that will determine the fate of the journalistic profession.

– What has Julian Assange done to become the number one enemy of the most powerful world power, which planned his abduction and murder, and now wants to “slow motion” liquidate him in one of its dungeons? Was it his stance that no government has the right to conceal crimes or commit them in our name, or was it his fatal belief in truth as the supreme power belonging to every individual? Yes, Assange took on powerful abusers, and all these years he had insufficient and feeble assistance from us, his colleagues. Only the bravest and the best among us knew that without a free Assange, the existence of free media would no longer be possible. If Assange is declared guilty, it will mean the death of investigative journalism. And that should serve the purpose of controlling power in democracies, not be treated as espionage and a threat to national security, as in autocracies, said Mijić, adding that Assange is not a robber, not a criminal deserving lifelong imprisonment, but a fighter for a transparent state without secrets.

– Therefore, we must ask why his persecution and trial, his human rights and his freedom, his sacrifice are not on the front pages and headlines of the so-called Western liberal mainstream media? Just because the gulag where he has been imprisoned for five years is not in the Arctic Circle of northeastern Siberia but in southeast London, in the residence of His Majesty for the accommodation of terrorists, serial killers, rapists, and pedophiles? And now, as all free-thinking people of the world raise their voices like us and say “Free Assange, free him now!”, now that with this symbolic act we globally declare the best in this profession an honorary member of the Croatian Journalists’ Association, haughty remarks are heard from professional circles: “Assange is not a journalist”! Even if he is not by profession, Julian Assange is the greatest journalist and editor of the 21st century by his mission! Because, if it weren’t so, the WikiLeaks team of five would not have succeeded in publishing more secret information than all the world’s journalism combined, nor would they have kneeled behind their release begging The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, El Pais, and Le Monde, whose readers declared him Person of the Year by online voting, just like Time magazine did in 2010, said Mijić, emphasizing that what Assange will be remembered for in this profession can be called scientific journalism, journalism that must be verifiable.

– And is there anything better than original documents, first-hand reports, recorded videos, dispatched cables that will confirm every conclusion, every thought, every fact you publish? No one has ever denied the editor and journalist Julian Assange; the truth of his journalism is one hundred percent, so there has never been a need for correction or apology for what WikiLeaks has published! And those who continue to systematically slander Assange to divert attention from the crimes he has uncovered, those who “redirect the discussion from the content of the documents containing evidence of crimes, corruption, and abuse of power to the one who disclosed the documents and thus allegedly endangered national, or, worse, Western security”, those “who equate democracy with the ruling regime” have successfully retired as journalists, giving up not only their own but also media freedoms as such, Mijić concluded.

The British judiciary began reviewing Julian Assange’s request on Tuesday seeking to challenge the decision to extradite him to the United States for publishing classified documents, without the presence of the WikiLeaks founder who, according to his lawyer, is ill and does not feel well enough to attend the hearing.

American prosecutors want to try the 52-year-old Assange on 18 counts related to his publication of a vast amount of confidential U.S. military and diplomatic reports via WikiLeaks. They argue that the leaked information endangered their agents’ lives and that there is no justification for such action. In the event of a lawsuit against Assange, he faces 175 years in prison for violating the 1917 Espionage Act.

Assange’s numerous supporters consider him a hero of resistance to the establishment and a journalist criminally persecuted for revealing atrocities and alleged war crimes committed by the U.S.