Media, Politics

Public opinion turns against Julian Assange

By Rebecca Davis 6 September 2011

How times have changed for Julian Assange. The man once feted as a hero and a game-changer is now facing the music from commentators who are increasingly fed up with his publicity-seeking antics. By REBECCA DAVIS.

WikiLeaks’ latest stunts, publishing a huge cache of unredacted cables, thus endangering the sources named in them, and subsequently announcing its intention to sue its former ally The Guardian, have served to alienate many of the Australian hacktivist’s previous supporters. As Gawker points out, despite the fact that Assange has styled himself as a “martyr for transparency”, that hasn’t stopped him being fiercely protective of his own information, choosing only to drip-feed select cables from his huge stock. It was only when The New York Times released its own copy of detainee files from Guantanamo Bay that he was forced to release his files. He’s held back on internal Bank of America files to the point where they are now almost certainly out of date.

Writing in the UK’s Independent yesterday, James Harkin casts doubt on the value of the WikiLeaks project in the first place. Harkin makes the point that, as fascinating as access to online data is, it is only useful if you know how to make sense of it. “Access to online information is not power,” Harkin writes. “Power is power, and the obsessive Western focus on social media and online data is a symptom of our inability to think politically.”

The man who came within a whisker of winning Time’s Man of the Year award for 2010 still has his rape cases in Sweden pending, and as Gawker points out, his website has stopped functioning as a whistleblower site. Meanwhile, one of the real victims of this all, former intelligence officer Bradley Manning, continues to sit in jail. Assange owes him, big time. DM



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