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‘What about Assange?’: UK Foreign Office video calling for press freedom shamed for hypocrisy

‘What about Assange?’: UK Foreign Office video calling for press freedom shamed for hypocrisy
The UK Foreign Office has come under fire after posting a video online that calls for an increase in media freedom in nations around the world, drawing accusations of hypocrisy from those citing the treatment of Julian Assange.

The 13-second video includes the shocking statistic that “Only 10% of the world’s population live in a country with a free media,” with images of journalists and high profile world leaders past and present. It ends with a declaration that “This has to change.”

On the day Australian journalist Assange ‘celebrated’ his 48th birthday inside Belmarsh maximum-security prison, it may not be unreasonable to suggest that this ‘free media’ video was nothing more than the UK government’s way of trolling the WikiLeaks co-founder.

A thought that appears to resonate with many on Twitter. Some people online suggest that the UK is only interested in a ‘free press’ that reports on “regimes that fall for your benefit,” rather than exposing corrupt governments allied to Britain, killing innocent people.

The apparent hypocrisy did not escape the attention of others who highlighted the case of Assange who awaits his now-delayed US extradition request hearing in February in London.

The indictment relates to 2010 release of classified information on US war crimes in Iraq, including footage of a US Apache helicopter which opened fire, killing 12 people, including two Reuters reporters.

READ MORE: Journalists like Assange should ‘not pay such a price for exposing war crimes and torture’ – Maurizi

Unfortunately for Assange, this critical piece of journalism uncovered crimes of one of Britain’s allies. The first rule for winning the support of the UK government is don’t embarrass our friends with truth telling, especially when it comes to the military.

It comes as Australian barrister Greg Barns, who is campaigning to bring Assange home, rather pertinently urged people to remember the importance of free speech.

Those calling for greater support for freedom of the press need to be putting it also in the context of Julian Assange, who is an Australian and suffering as a result of an attack on the free press.

Strong words from the barrister. If only the UK government would take heed.

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