The Fate of Journalism & Julian Assange
Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-In-Chief of WikiLeaks
Australian National Press Club, 3 December 2019
It is a great pleasure to be with you at Australia’s National Press Club on Ngunnawal land. I pay my respect to Ngunnawal elders past, present and emerging.
I have come a long way, from Iceland’s wintery darkness, to be here in the homeland of Julian Assange on the anniversary of the Eureka Stockade. Today he’s about as far from the sunshine and beauty of this place as it is possible to be. I wish I didn’t have to convey to you what it’s like in Belmarsh prison. It is a brick and wire hell of sensory deprivation. It is no place for a journalist or a publisher, and it is no place for an Australian who comes from this bright and warm place. After just a few hours of visiting Julian in that place, I find myself very angry and almost stripped of hope.
Julian has been there for 6 months now, mostly alone in a cell for over 20 hours a day – virtually in solitary confinement. I don’t know how much longer he can last. He is a resilient and strong man – and I should know, I have worked with him closely for 10 years – but he is no longer the man I met back then. He has sacrificed everything to publish what whistleblowers have entrusted to WikiLeaks. And every release comes from leaks – WikiLeaks does not hack, it publishes what whistleblowers provide. And we keep on doing so because whistleblowers keep trusting WikiLeaks with material.
Recently whistleblowers entrusted WikiLeaks with documents about bribery, money laundering and corruption – the FishRot Files. Two ministers in Namibia have just been forced to resign because they were revealed to be corrupt and taking bribes.
Another whistleblower recently provided email communication to then Chief of Cabinet of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Bob Fairweather. The email was from someone who was in the inspection team that visited the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, in April 2018. Remember, this is the alleged chemical weapons attack that saw Syria bombed by the US,