Assange: "You can't ground Spider-Man"

A Reuters piece on the ongoing Julian Assange Ecuador Asylum Saga, with a focus on the freedom of speech and press transparency issues that make Ecuador an odd place for a whistleblower to seek asylum right now. Not that America or the UK are much better. But it seems that Assange and Correa have bonded over a shared loathing of "big media organizations," as Assange put it, and "false stereotypes" of "courageous journalists and news outlets," as Correa (who has led attacks against media in Ecuador) put it.

Assange has to take what limited options he has at this point, I understand, but Ecuador's president is something of a fair-weather friend to whistleblowers: ask Aliaksandr Barankov, the ex-Belarus financial crimes prober whose amnesty is being revoked after a recent visit to Ecuador by Lukashenko.

Snip from Reuters:

In January 2012, Kremlin-sponsored English-language TV channel Russia Today said it had given Assange his own talk show. Critics of President Vladimir Putin's human rights and freedom of speech record condemned Assange for taking the job. In May, Assange interviewed Correa on the programme. The 25-minute conversation, available on YouTube, offers some insight into the rapport between the president with a tendency to muzzle the media and the campaigner for free information.

"Let's get rid of these false stereotypes depicting wicked governments persecuting saint-like and courageous journalists and news outlets. Often, Julian, it's the other way round," Correa said during the interview.

"President Correa, I agree with your market description of the media. We have seen this again and again, that big media organisations that we have worked with ... have censored our material against our agreement," Assange said in response.

He was referring to his dealings with major Western media including the New York Times and Britain's Guardian, which published material obtained by WikiLeaks in 2010 but later fell out with Assange.

Read more: "Assange saga clouds freedom of speech agenda". (Reuters)


  1. …with a focus on the freedom of speech and press transparency issues that make Ecuador an odd place for a whistleblower to seek asylum right now. Not that America or the UK are much better.

    Independent watchdog groups like Reporters without Borders and Freedom House both rank the US and UK well above Ecuador*, though we all have a long way to go if we want to catch up with Finland.

    (*On average. Individual results may vary.)

    [EDIT to add: I’m aware that Freedom House’s neutrality has been questioned by some since they are U.S.-based, but their rankings seem to fall pretty well in line with RWB.]

  2. Is this the episode where the President quotes the line: “The USA is the only country that is safe from a coup d’état…because it’s the only one that doesn’t have a US embassy”?

      1.  Touché!

        ….and Bhutan, Iran, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Guinea-Bissau.

        1. Yeah, I figured there were more but was too lazy to actually look any of those up. It’s kind of amazing that we can still make Shirley Temples when we have no formal diplomatic relations with the Grenadines, though.

  3. Well Assange should clearly flee to a coutry that values openness, transparency, accountability, and welcomes whistleblowers.  Maybe the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

  4. It is sad that such a self-serving individual was the one who happened to start such a publicly-valuable organisation.

    Attacking Western secrecy while cosying up to the regimes of Ecuador and Russia is like critiquing capitalism by praising Stalin. 

    1. That’s not as rare an argument as one might hope. And it’s very hard to counter- where do you start with someone who sees Stalin’s worst atrocities as mere bad press or perhaps misplaced enthusiasm? It’s always disconcerting when you realize you’ve got to rework your argument to include support for premises that shouldn’t need to be established (like, oh, “Purges? Not a good thing.”)   

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