Correcting the record in the Julian Assange case is essential part of our solidarity work in support of the WikiLeaks founder and in these Corvid-19 days of social distancing hampering our street actions, provides an effective alternative of action with significant impact.
So it is very frustrating that neither complaints filed with news wholesalers Thompson Reuters went any further than an acknowledgement. Serious failings there despite a sophisticated online system.
In November last year I notified them that their article “Trump campaign aide pushed Ukraine hacking theory: documents” states : “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion by the U.S. government in April.” without mentioning that the charge relates to WikiLeaks 2010/11 disclosures about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and State Department Cables. Presenting the charge without its context the article misleads the reader in thinking that the charge is in relation to the context of the article ie the WikiLeaks Disclosure of the DNC Emails. I asked them to correct their reporting to reflect the context of the charge correctly.
Their response was
“Thank you for contacting Reuters Online Support. Your request (#132616) has been received, and is being reviewed by our support staff. We will get back to you as soon as possible.”
and they closed the complaint.
In March this year I wrote to them again.
Their article “U.S. judge orders WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning released from prison” states:
“He is wanted on charges of conspiring with Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer system containing classified materials.”
I chose to concentrate my complaint on a single issue, the omission of the Espionage charges. I explained that additional 17 charges under the Espionage Act were added against Julian Assange in a superseding indictment which could result in a prison term of up to 170 years. In total the 18 charges could result in 175 years imprisonment.
I went further to explain that part of the legal challenge at Magistrates Court against Julian Assange’s US Extradition includes arguments that the Extradition request is sought for political crimes such as Espionage. The US/UK extradition agreement prohibits extradition for political crimes. The omission of such charges from the article keeps the British public ignorant of the substance of this case before British courts and it’s significant not only in relation to Julian Assange but also in the context of press freedom and freedom of expression.
I asked them to correct the record by reporting all 18 charges and inserting the correct hyperlink which I appended.
The response was very polite but without any effect:
“Thank you for contacting Reuters.com support with your comments and feedback. Your comments have been passed on to our editorial team. Please note that due to the huge volume of emails sent to the Editor daily, we may be unable to provide an individual response. However, all comments are read and taken into consideration.
We appreciate your feedback and we hope that you continue to use and enjoy the Reuters website.”
That was the end of it. Considering that as a news wholesaler their articles are syndicated and therefore appear in many websites around the world, accuracy is of grave importance.
A very poor performance indeed!