Assange: A Battle for Free Speech?

Is Julian Assange a hero of democracy and freedom of speech or someone who fell foul of technology like a celebrity who didn’t think before hitting ‘send’?

Technological improvements and new product launches promising instant and global communication pour out across the world almost monthly.  We are still naïve about the reach of the mass communication tools in our possession often to our detriment as recipients of fines for racist tweets are finding out.

Did Julian Assange honestly believe that there would be no consequences of WikiLeaks publishing cables from diplomatic missions around the world? Information published about the war in Iraq and so on was interesting but it didn’t change anything: most sentient human beings in the world were opposed to the war and understood information was being manipulated to present a case for war due to different agendas. Undiplomatic comments published, and re-printed by international media, from Ambassadors and High Commissioners was entertaining but what were we meant to do with the information?

We think it’s okay because it was international communication between civil servants and their governments but what if it were our personal electronic diary entries?  There is a sinister side to hacking technology and uses are never limited to the original aims or even limited to freedom/democracy fighters.

I’m no tech genius or diplomat but I understand there would be severe consequences of releasing highly sensitive and classified information into the public.  Assange may have thought he was doing his self-appointed public duty but if recent history is anything to go by the lesson is this: there is no such thing as a true democracy and we are all equal but some are more equal than others.  Serbian, Egyptian and Iraqi war criminals will face trials in the Hague but Tony Blair and George W Bush will not.  The leaking of the cables would never lead to a war crimes trial.

I haven’t read all the recent articles relating to the Julian Assange case but what is Australia doing to help their citizen?


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