Media’s Betrayal of Assange Leaves Them with ‘Blood on Their Hands’

© REUTERS / Peter NichollsWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017 - Sputnik International
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When WikiLeaks first began publishing documents detailing war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainstream media outlets were quick to file their reports, scooping up every bit of new information. That was the case until the whistleblowing site shared unflattering material on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"They [mainstream media] have just been complicit in covering up the torture of WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange inside the [Ecuadorian] embassy; they are directly responsible for the position he's in right now," Suzie Dawson, president of New Zealand's Internet Party, told Radio Sputnik on Thursday.

"They're directly responsible for the lack of mass on-the-ground action by millions worldwide because those millions have been suppressed by being fed a constant stream of disinformation, and all we're going to keep seeing from these media outlets is more and more disinformation."

People are seen outside Westminster magistrates court in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019 - Sputnik International
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"I'm completely disgusted by them, and I think they're shooting themselves in the foot… I think the media have blood on their hands," she stressed.

The question now is, how did Assange, a man who's life's work was welcomed with open arms by various media organization, fall so dramatically from their good graces? As Sputnik's Brian Becker notes, it all took a massive turn in 2016, when WikiLeaks published "embarrassing documents showing government, political and corporate misconduct during the final years of the Obama administration."

More specifically, it kicked into full gear when Assange shared documents that "embarrassed Clinton during that 2016 [presidential] race."

"On October 4, 2016, WikiLeaks released copies of Clinton's Wall Street speeches — and that's when the Guardian, once an eager publisher of WikiLeaks' damning information, decided Assange and his organization were actually a ‘prop' for Trump," says Becker.

It isn't just the Guardian that flipped on WikiLeaks: dozens of outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have done the same. Rather than continuing to publish WikiLeaks' data, the veracity and utility of which they hadn't doubted before, mainstream media outlets instead took up the narrative that WikiLeaks was somehow linked to Russia when the outlet began exposing members of their team, the Democratic Party. WikiLeaks was no longer worthy, regardless of how unproven those claims actually are.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen in a police van after was arrested by British police outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London - Sputnik International
Assange's Defence Says WikiLeaks Founder Could Be Extradited to US, Face Torture

Patrick Henningsen, creator of alternative news site 21st Century Wire, told Sputnik that the allegation that WikiLeaks is linked to Russia "colors the environment in which [Assange's] legal drama is taking place."

"The point of Russiagate really has been to demonize WikiLeaks and to sort of defame Julian Assange and sort of create him as sort of a character of malice from the view of the political left in America," he said.

"[Assange] won award after award as a journalist; he was lauded by great organizations and outlets, and so now because of the result of 2016 [presidential election], most of the Democratic Party… see him as the anti-Christ who betrayed the left, as it were."

The shifting view on Assange pushed by the media and politicians alike has ultimately made it so that "the public isn't going to be there to give the sympathy to Julian Assange, to champion his human rights."

Russiagate "definitely colors the proceedings," Henningsen stressed.

Protesters rally in front of the Westminster Magistrate's Courthouse in London in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange - Sputnik International
No Journalist is Safe: Protestors React to Assange Arrest, Likely US Extradition

Assange, who had been holed up inside the London-based Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a since-closed rape case and over fears of being extradited to the US, was arrested Thursday by UK authorities for skipping out on bail. He now faces charges by the US of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which could land him behind bars for five years. In May, he'll face an extradition hearing in a UK court.

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