What governments like is the official leak. They like to leak material to trusted journalists to get their story out – top secret documents given to special journalists who write the story the way they want it written. What Wikileaks did was to leak stuff that governments didn’t want to be revealed, and that’s the kind of material that every journalist should be after.
The official leak is the government putting information out and the journalists being used as part of the propaganda process. What Wikileaks did was to break that, and to leak material that governments wanted kept secret. That’s why I think Wikileaks is a purer form of journalism than much of the journalism that we have today.
One things that Wikileaks has done for journalism that has never happened before, has been to show us the truth of a situation in real time… instead of having to wait for 40, 50, 60 and sometimes even 70 years. The problem is that it’s just been far too successful for its own good. It’s shown up not only the governments; it’s also, unfortunately, shown up journalists. So the problem is, it finds itself friendless in a very hostile world. That’s why Wikileaks finds itself in so much trouble at the moment – not because it’s failed to do its job, but because it’s doing its job far too well.
What we have seen behind the scenes has been a military grade attack on Wikileaks websites… 120 experts gathered together to get information to smear and to destroy Wikileaks. Now that’s just attacking Wikileaks, but the big game is about controlling the internet and the free flow of information. So the countries that believe in democracy, or say they believe in democracy and openness… this is a real test. If you believe in democracy and openness you should support organisations like Wikileaks.
The biggest problem that the government has here in Australia, is that Prime Minister has said that [Assange] has acted illegally, and the Attourney General said that he would look in to taking his passport away… They have immediately given a public signal to the whole world that they don’t support Julian Assange… That is a problem that Julian has to deal with right now. What he should be looking at, and what the Australian government should, and I think is duty-bound to do, is to support ANY of its citizens who are in trouble overseas…
What I would expect is that the PM of Australia speak out to say that she is looking for due process to be carried out, and to make that point time and time again. To tell the Swedish government that the Australian people and the Australian government are looking very closely at what’s happening to Julian Assange; looking very closely at the DUE PROCESS that will be followed in his case, and that we will be doing the best to protect the interests of an Australian citizen.
Now the fact that that hasn’t happened, or if it has happened, it’s happened at a very low level, indicates to me that the Australian government is not giving its full support to Julian Assange. In fact it indicates that it’s looking away from Assange at the moment, at a time when it should be full square behind him.
Andrew Fowler is an investigative journalist who concerns himself with human rights, political and foreign policy issues.
He has won several awards including the United Nations Peace Prize, the Human Rights Award, and a New York Festival silver medal.
He started work on local newspapers in England before moving to London where he worked on national/daily newspapers.
In Australia he has been chief of staff and acting foreign editor of The Australian and a reporter with SBS Dateline and Channel 7. He was a founding member of Lateline in 1990. He is also a contributing reporter for the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program. Between 2002-2009, he headed up the ABC’s Investigative Unit.