By Joe Brack of EF Press
The relationship between Private Eye and WikiLeaks, two publishers with very similar aims and objectives, is recovering slowly since the nadir of 2011 when claims of antisemitism and a disputed phone call between editor Ian Hislop and editor Julian Assange, divided two successful publishers known for their ground-breaking exposures of corruption and criminality by successive administrations around the world.
As witnessed at the Old Bailey for the past 4 weeks lead prosecutor QC Lewis used extensive quotes from Leigh and Harding’s book on WikiLeaks, ‘Shadow State’ to justify the US extradition request without the defence being able to cross-examine either as to their ‘reporting’.
Step up Private Eye, no. 1529, 28 August 2020 that, in advance of his trial, featured in the Street of Shame: ‘Blond Bombshell’, lambasting the Guardian for their ‘Paul Manafort visits Julian Assange’ fake story,
and in particular rubbishing Luke Harding’s Russiagate conspiracy, with: ‘There was no long-term Russia-Assange-Trump plot. WikiLeaks just did what it does, publishing documents it has grabbed from any source’, much like Private Eye.
Private Eye does repeat the Guardian’s claim that they fell out with Assange because WikiLeaks published the DNC emails showing election fraud via Russian agents thus helping a Trump victory.
Alan Rusbridger claimed he fell out with Wikieaks because ‘they published that which should not be published’ at the Frontline Club in 2019, refusing to elaborate.
An examination of the Guardian’s fraught history with the UK Security Services reveals a much darker side to their volte-face on WikiLeaks when Luke Harding himself reported on the shocking Edward Snowden raid back in 2013.
The Guardian intimidated by a Security Service raid, club hammered their own hard drives in their underground car park to prove they would not retain Edward Snowden material.
At this point it becomes most evident that compliance with State Security overrides any genuine public interest and investigative reporting the Guardian was once renowned for and sadly the Scott Trust’s independence and bravery replaced by venture capital and limited liability of a private, corporate entity.
Private Eye have continued with their investigation and in no.1532, 9 October 2020 ‘In the Courts’ detail Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejection on the first day of the trial of Amnesty International application to observe via the Cloud Video platform as well as 40 other NGOs and journalists, as it threatened her ‘ability to maintain the integrity of the court’.
Private Eye refers to this integrity, where a member of the public took a photo of Assange in the dock and distinguishes Human Rights NGOs, ‘Amnesty won’t take illicit photos of Julian Assange in court or from a live video feed – but having an observer would put it in a stronger position to question other issues about the “integrity” of Assange’s extradition hearings.’
Indeed! As we await the closing submissions and Vanessa Baraitser’s judgement on 4 January 2021 one hopes that Private Eye continues to report on US v Julian Assange, especially in light of the serious ramifications for editors and publishers should the US request succeed.