Anyone following WikiLeaks and the releases of US State Embassy Cables it has been coordinating with newspapers around the world has no doubt been confronted with details on the organization's founder Julian Assange. True or not, many allegations that seem to be nothing more than gross attempts at character assassination have managed to pile on Assange.
Assange has now been accused of suggesting British journalists, including an editor of The Guardian newspaper, engaged in a "Jewish" conspiracy to smear his organization. The allegation is coming from a Private Eye magazine article written by Ian Hislop that he thought because The Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger was "sort of Jewish" and that he was particularly concerned with how "Jews" were covering WikiLeaks.
The WikiLeaks founder has the ability to speak for himself. He doesn't need people or anyone outside WikiLeaks to take the time to write op-eds specifically dispelling rumors and allegations that continue to stack up. The author does not intend to make this a regular thing and actually has not written much about Julian Assange, the person, at all. But, as the smears continue to swell, they distract from the mission and objectives of the non-profit media organization. Watch Google News and track mentions of WikiLeaks: You will see the effective impact is that news shifts from coverage of recent revelations in released cables to a considerable amount of coverage of rumors and allegations on Assange instantaneously.
It is worth demonstrating how off-putting the continued barrage of tabloid journalism from respectable news outlets is by noting the various allegations that have been levied. But, first of all, to be clear, this article does not aim to say that government officials should not be allowed to criticize an individual it perceives to be a threat. It does not aim to say that "defectors" from the organization like Daniel Domschott-Berg should not be allowed to publish their own "tell-all" books on what has happened.
Back on August 20, the Swedish Prosecutors' Office issued an arrest warrant that carried two separate allegations, one of rape and the other of molestation. His accusers were two women he had sex with while in Stockholm for a speaking engagement. A day later, the warrant was withdrawn. And days later he was questioned by police in Stockholm and denied the allegations. Nonetheless, as his organization began to commence what has become known as "Cablegate," the Swedish authorities renewed its efforts to charge Assange with rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion and a request to detain the founder was approved on November 18. An Interpol "red notice" was issued on November 30 just as the first U.S. Embassy cables were being released.
The allegations, which are just that at this point, have
been reported with little nuance in many cases. As Fast Company pointed out, for example, an AP
article up on Huffington Post went up with the headline: "Julian Assange
Rape Investigation Reopened: Sweden Probing WikiLeaks Founder." The article
included the chief prosecutor's comments noting "no reason to suspect" Assange
had raped a Swedish woman but used a headline suggesting just that. Fast Company outlined they could do this
because it referred to the "investigation," not what Assange did, an "old libel