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For any nation to qualify as a democracy it must have a free and open media. In times gone by this used to be know as the fourth estate. One of the primary purposes of a properly functioning fourth estate has always been to hold the ruling establishment to account. When it fails to do that there is no democracy worthy of the name. In cases where the fourth estate is seen to have become part of the ruling establishment there cannot be free and fair elections. Free and fair elections depend on voters having access to unbiased and balanced information. Failing that, a wide selection of differing opinions from a variety of sources. Or both. When truths are withheld from us — for lies to be put in their place — we lose the ability to hold our ruling elites to account for the consequences of their actions. That is the untenable position we are now in. Even worse, the freedom of the press is under attack from the very corporate media that should be fighting tooth and nail for that freedom. When freedom of expression is curtailed or censored we all come under attack. We have reached a point in history where a still nascent alternative media is now doing the job of the fourth estate.
In the case of journalist and publisher Julian Assange, seven years of asylum have morphed into seven years of imprisonment. A UN panel of international lawyers labelled his confinement to a room in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London as “arbitrary detention” and ruled it unlawful.
The corporate media has often laughed and joked about Assange’s confinement, citing it as self-imposed. As though imprisonment and deprivation on any level is funny. But it should be remembered that those of us who stand up and defend Julian Assange are not only defending his rights but defending the rights of all journalists the world over. We are defending the rights of our children and their children. We are defending the rights of our fellow human beings. We are defending democracy. Stand up and defend the rights of Julian Assange. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
For more go to: On the Pavement with Wikileaks by Craig Murray
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