Australian academics attack Julian Assange on ABC program | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) released an hour-long podcast on June 23 in which several academics and media figures discussed the extradition proceedings of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being taken from court in London, Wednesday May 1, 2019. [AP Photo/Matt Dunham]

The program remains worthy of comment several weeks later. It is, after all, one of the very few occasions on which the publicly-funded broadcaster has seen fit to devote an entire show to Assange, despite the fact that he is Australia’s most high-profile political prisoner, and a fellow journalist.

The ABC broke its general silence on Assange under conditions of an outpouring of support for the WikiLeaks founder, after British Home Secretary Priti Patel announced last month that she had approved his extradition to the US, where Assange faces 17 Espionage Act charges and 175 years imprisonment for exposing American war crimes.

Anyone hoping for a sympathetic accounting of Assange’s persecution, or a statement of support for a journalist facing egregious persecution, was left disappointed.

The program was entitled: “Is Julian Assange entitled to a ‘free speech’ defence?” Every credible press freedom and human rights organisation has answered the question unequivocally in the affirmative. They have demanded that the US charges be dropped forthwith, because they constitute a frontal assault on the most basic democratic rights.

Not so the ABC and its esteemed guests. The radio presenters were Waleed Aly and  Scott Stephens and the program was part of an ABC Radio National series “The Minefield.”

Aly has previously made limited criticisms of the prosecution of Assange, though not recently. A politics lecturer at Monash University and ubiquitous media personality, his “liberal” credentials are primarily based on the promotion of multicultural identity politics, which are not even slightly left-wing or threatening to the powers that be.

Less frequently noted is that Aly works for Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre think tank, a state-funded body which collaborates with policing agencies and is tasked with “fostering counter-terrorism practices.”

The Minefield hosts Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens (Photo: ABC)

Stephens is an ABC editor, and former theology and ethics lecturer and parish minister. He is considered an expert on the Slovenian academic Slavoj Žižek, an intellectual charlatan whose occasionally “left’ rhetoric is marshalled in support of imperialist war and reaction.

Appearing as a guest on the Assange episode was Katharine Gelber—a University of Queensland Professor of Politics and Public Policy and head of that university’s School of Political Science and International Studies.

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