Oct. 11, 2018
For Immediate Release
Nancy Sorden Email: [email protected]
Alex Steinberg Email: [email protected]
Pacifica Foundation Announces Support for Julian Assange
Pacifica National Board asks for Freedom for Whistleblower
(Berkeley) - The National Board of the Pacifica Foundation passed a resolution supporting the journalist and whistle blower Julian Assange at its October 4 meeting. The resolution said, “The Pacifica National Board calls for the freedom of Julian Assange and an end to the harassment of Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.”
The resolution noted that Assange has been deprived of access to the outside world, including the use of the Internet, in the past few months. It called for the end of efforts to imprison Assange by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom and an end to the attacks on journalists and whistle blowers by these governments.
Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks, has been residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 when he was first given asylum. Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno has been under pressure from the United States to hand Assange over to the British authorities. That pressure intensified after a meeting between Moreno and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence in June of this year.
British authorities have repeatedly stated that if Assange steps one foot out of the Ecuadorian Embassy he will be immediately arrested and would then very likely be extradited to the United States, where he faces criminal charges that could put him in jail for the rest of his life. Assange continues to face a secret grand jury trial in Virginia, home of the Pentagon and CIA, on multiple charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The charges against Assange are linked to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion of Trump’s campaign with Russia to influence the 2016 elections. WikiLeaks has been accused of knowingly accepting hacked emails from Russian espionage agents stolen from the Clinton campaign. Assange has denied these charges.
The moves against Assange are aimed at denying free speech to Assange and WikiLeaks, who over the last decade have exposed the war crimes, coup plots and the mass surveillance carried out by the US government and its allies.
Over the years WikiLeaks has published reams of documents supplied by whistleblowers that chronicle the secret machinations of the U.S. and other governments behind the backs of its people. These included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and a report informing a corruption investigation in . In April 2010, WikiLeaks released the so-called footage from the in which Iraqi journalists were among those killed. Other releases in 2010 included the and the "". The latter allowed the mapping of 109,032 deaths in "significant" attacks by insurgents in Iraq that had been reported to , including about 15,000 that had not been . In 2010, WikiLeaks also released the , classified cables that had been sent to the US State Department. In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing relating to prisoners detained in the . WikiLeaks received much of this material from whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
In addition to publishing the hacked emails from the Democratic Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2016, WikiLeaks published a trove of material from the CIA in 2017 exposing the cyber tools used by that agency to compromise the privacy of data on iPhones and other personal communications devices.
The defense of Julian Assange has received the support of a number of journalists and prominent individuals. Among those who have spoken up in defense of Assange has been the journalist Chris Hedges, the film maker Ken Loach as well as the film maker Oliver Stone. Oliver Stone sent a letter to the Pacifica National Board in the days leading up to its Oct. 4 meeting asking that the organization go on record defending Assange.
The motion was brought forth by Pacifica Board member Alex Steinberg who represents radio station WBAI in New York. Steinberg stated that,
“The Julian Assange case is a key case for freedom of the press. Assange has been hunted by the U.S. government and the government of the UK and it now looks like the government of Ecuador is getting ready to hand him over to the tender mercies of the U.S. Justice Department. His “crime” is very simple - he exposed the secret machinations of the U.S. government through the whistle-blowing activities of WikiLeaks. Mainstream news organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post have not only refused to defend Assange but instead have echoed some of the accusations against him. This is in sharp contrast to their defense of another whistleblower decades ago, Daniel Ellsberg, when they published the Pentagon Papers. ”
In standing up for the freedom of Julian Assange and of all whistle blowers the Pacifica Foundation reiterates its commitment to the principle of freedom of the press and the right of the public to know what its governments are doing no matter who is embarrassed by the release of this information. In doing so Pacifica is following in the traditions of its founder, Lew Hill, who as a pacifist, stood up to the U.S. government during World War II.
Pacifica calls on other media organizations and individuals to join us in defending Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and the principle of Freedom of the Press.
Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica’s storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases. Those cases include the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin’s incendiary performances on WBAI.
The Pacifica Foundation operates noncommercial radio stations in five major metropolitan areas, operates the Pacifica Radio Archives with decades of historical audio, and syndicates content to over 250 affiliate stations. It invented listener-sponsored radio.