The inaccuracies in reporting the Julian Assange case are common in the entire Mainstream UK Newspaper industry and Media in general. My complaints focus on original news creators among mainstream online publications. But every inaccuracy in one of those media, a plethora of misinformation is created as those original news creators are copy pasted far and wide on the internet from websites with readership outside the UK to news re-cycling websites, to click-bait advertising websites, producing an avalanche of misinformation, solidifying a narrative on the Assange case among groups of publics who not necessarily will have the time or inclination to do independent research, searching original news sources like The Courage Foundation for example which is meticulous in documenting developments in the Assange case.
Here is complaint I sent to The Independent.
In your article “Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder” published here:
“is currently serving a 50-week sentence for breaching bail”
I am writing to bring to your attention that this statement is not accurate. Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment at HP Belmarsh for violating the conditions of his bail back in 2012 but he was subject to being released after servicing half his sentence.
From Judge Elizabeth Taylor’s sentencing remarks
“The sentence is imprisonment for 50 weeks. Any time spent on remand in respect of this offence from the time of your arrest on 11 April 2019 will count against your sentence. In respect of this offence you would fall to be released after serving half of the sentence, subject to being returned to custody if you commit any further offences during the remainder of your licence period.” [https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/sentencing-remarks-assange-010519.pdf]
After serving half his sentence Julian Assange was due to be released on 22 September 2019 but on the 13th of September during an Administrative hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court Judge Baraitser told Assange, who appeared by video-link,
“You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.” As reported by the Guardian here [https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/14/julian-assange-to-remain-in-jail-pending-extradition-to-us].
Please correct your article to reflect accurately his remand status from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition. The US DOJ seek his extradition for charges under the Espionage and Computer Fraud Acts potentially carrying a sentence of 175 years over WikiLeaks publications. Also, please insert a comment to explain that the correction has been made.
Within a week I received good news!
Thank you for your email of 22 November 2019 regarding an article published in The Independent on 19 November 2019, headlined “Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder”: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/julian-assange-rape-case-investigation-sweden-sexual-assault-prison-jail-a9209006.html
Upon receipt of a complaint, the concerns raised are reviewed with reference to The Independent’s own Code of Conduct, which you can read here. In addition, while The Independent is not a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), we also have regard to the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice, which is a set of standards which is used industry wide.
I can see that the article was slightly erroneous as to its tenses, and so I have amended the piece to make clear that Assange’s fight against extradition has superseded his 50 week sentence.
While I note your request that a footnote be appended to the piece, I do not consider that the article was significantly inaccurate or misleading such as to require correction. Readers of the article would have understood that Assange was currently located in prison, which is the important point- the precise reason he resides there not a significant point in the context of the article, and in any event, the article made clear that he was “fighting extradition”.
I bring to your attention that my request that a footnote is appended is dismissed. Here lies an injustice. Because it is imperative for the historical record to be accurate that errors are not only corrected but seen to be corrected.
Let’s continue our efforts to correct the record in the Assange case!