Did they know or care what he was capable of? Assange was eventually persuaded to redact some of the material he received prior to publication, but as Declan Walsh of the Guardian reported, his initial attitude toward those who might lose their lives at the hands of the Taliban or others for cooperating with the U.S. was brutal. "'Well, they're informants,' he said. 'So, if they get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it.'"
Assange is upheld, by those of limited understanding, as a symbol of openness and press freedom. Yet he has associated himself with some of the most flagrant abusers of press liberty in the world. He cheerfully agreed to serve as the host of a TV program on the Kremlin's propaganda channel "Russia Today." According to a report by the International Federation of Journalists, Russia has been responsible for the deaths or disappearances of more than 300 journalists in the past two decades.
His first interview -- and it was a soft one -- was with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who tends to torture people who displease him. When Nasrallah boasted that his code was unbreakable, the two men "laughed companionably," reported The New York Times.
Now we learn that Assange, who remains under an arrest warrant, is seeking the protection of the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Yes, Ecuador, whose Chavez-wannabe leader, Rafael Correa, has called journalists in his country "media vultures."
Ecuador's criminal code now prohibits journalists from showing a "lack of respect" for the president. And Correa has abused a feature of the broadcasting code to require that private TV and radio stations interrupt their programming to transmit government messages called "cadenas." Between 2007 and 2011, reports Human Rights Watch, there have been 1,025 such messages, sucking up 151 hours of broadcast time. The number of private outlets is shrinking though, as the government continues to shutter independent radio and TV stations (seven in June alone) on various pretexts.
That's where our Internet crusader for "openness" is headed or would like to be. The British government isn't cooperating, warning that Assange will be arrested if he steps out of the embassy.
One might say, "He's got it coming. He deserves it."
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