Below is the statement that has been signed onto by journalists and media workers around the world demanding that the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (M.E.A.A) , the Australian trade union that covers journalists and to which Julian Assange is a lifetime member, start to actively campaign in his defense. More on the background and political aims of this statement can be read at classconscious.org.
However, since we issued this letter, Julian Assange has been arrested and faces extradition to the U.S. The Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance, the media union in Australia broke its silence and we applaud them on their recent efforts.
They have published on their website a letter from the M.E.A.A to the Australian and U.K governments calling on them to publicly oppose the extradition of Assange to the U.S. The letter states:
“MEAA is concerned that Mr Assange is facing possible extradition to the United States regarding WikiLeaks’ publication of US government files nine years ago. We believe a prosecution of WikiLeaks’ personnel will have a chilling effect on the public’s right to know what governments do in the name of their citizens.”
Workers must build on the action by the M.E.A.A. to pass motions and get their unions and workplaces actively involved in the struggle to defend Assange. The Queensland Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (M.U.A.) and Tuwani Gumani, General Secretary, Media Workers Association of South Africa (M.W.A.S.A) are amongst the labor figures who have already endorsed a call out for actions on May 3rd.
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY 2019: STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR JULIAN ASSANGE
On May 3, 2019 —World Press Freedom Day—we, the undersigned journalists and media workers endorse the statement made by the Australian Walkley Foundation in 2011, that WikiLeaks has shown “a courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: Justice through transparency,” and demand free press protections for all media workers.
We believe that the ongoing targeting of WikiLeaks and Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange for prosecution on possible espionage charges by the U.S. administration poses a serious risk to journalists and media outlets in Australia, the United States, and around the globe. The defense of WikiLeaks and Assange from persecution is a crucial battle in the defense of freedom of the press more broadly.
In a time when the Trump administration has labelled the press the “enemy of the people,” WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” and national security is being invoked increasingly to control reporting globally, the chilling precedent that would be set by legal prosecution of Assange must be resisted.
We note that the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian Union representing all journalists and media workers, has stated that “Campaigning for press freedom, for the right of journalists to go about their business without harassment, persecution, or censorship is at the very core of the work of MEAA.”
We also note that the MEAA was very vocal in supporting Julian Assange in 2010, and in fact gave him a lifetime membership as recognition of his contributions to the media. In 2011, MEAA also welcomed WikiLeaks winning the prestigious Walkley Award for “Most Outstanding Contribution to the Media.” However, since this time they have not made any public statements or passed any motions in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, despite his worsening situation.
Therefore, we demand that the MEAA do everything in its power to advocate on behalf of their member, Julian Assange. We also urge that the MEAA issue a statement condemning the re-jailing of Chelsea Manning, an alleged WikiLeaks source, in an effort to coerce her to testify against Julian Assange.
Mobilising journalists and other media workers around the world in defense of Julian Assange is a crucial step in building a movement to free Julian Assange and protect a free press.
As such, we demand that the United Kingdom allow Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy safe from extradition and persecution in the U.S. and as dictated by Inter-American Court of Human Rights and U.N. rulings, and that Western countries, including the United States, recognize Julian Assange as both a publisher and journalist deserving of the same protections given to other media workers.
Phillip Adams (AO), Journalist, ABC Radio National
Naomi Colvin, Whistleblower activist and writer, New Internationalist
Wendy E. Davis, Writer, Cafe Babylon
Patrick Farnsworth, Producer, Last Born in the Wilderness
Chris Graham, Publisher and Editor, New Matilda
Torstein Grude, Film Producer and Writer, Piraya Films
David Heller, Classconscious.org
Dr. Lissa Johnson, Clinical Psychologist and New Matilda Columnist
Carlos Latuff, Political Cartoonist
Bailey Lamon, Independent Writer
Niamun Nahar, Assistant Professor, Dept. Of Mass Communication and Journalism, Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur, Bangladesh
Pablo Navarrete, Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker
Andrei Nekrasov, Film Director and Writer
Salim Reza Newton, Associate Professor, Dept. of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Alan L. Stewart, Author, Publisher of Carpe DiEM25 – USA Review Weekly
Rob Same, Writer
Jeff Sparrow, Guardian columnist; 3RRR Breakfaster; writer
Kellie Tranter, lawyer and human rights activist
Whitney Webb, Staff Writer, MintPress News