Assange deal not the end of freedom fight

Wikileaks website and Julian Assange photo. | Newsreel
A deal which saw the release of Julian Assange is not the end of the fight for press freedom. | Photo: Fentino (iStock)

The deal which allowed Julian Assange to be released from prison today, has done little to address the broader issue of press freedom, according to Australia’s Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

MEAA Media Federal President Karen Percy said while the reported plea bargain between Mr Assange and the United States government brought to a close one of the “darkest periods in the history of media freedom”, the MEAA remained concerned what the deal would mean for media freedom around the world.

Ms Percy said there were fears the deal would embolden the US and other governments to continue to prosecute journalists who disclose to the public information they would rather keep suppressed.

“The work of Wikileaks at the centre of this case – which exposed war crimes and other wrongdoing by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan – was strong, public interest journalism.

“The pursuit of Julian Assange has set a dangerous precedent that will have a potential chilling effect on investigative journalism,” she said.

Ms Percy welcomed the news that Mr Assange had already been released from Belmarsh Prison, where he had been held as his case was dealt with through UK courts.

“The deal reported today does not in any way mean that the struggle for media freedom has been futile. Quite the opposite, it places governments on notice that a global movement will be mobilised whenever they blatantly threaten journalism in a similar way,” she said.