On Thursday April 11, 2019 Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and publisher, was arrested by police in London.
The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) -- the preeminent worldwide professional organisation in the field of media and communications research -- expresses concern about his possible extradition to the United States.
WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 as an online platform for the secure and anonymous submission of information by whistleblowers on the actions of power holders that would otherwise be concealed from public view and scrutiny. It has provided vital material for investigative journalists. For instance, in 2010, in collaboration with established newspapers -- The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel -- the documents and field reports it supplied formed the basis for news coverage revealing thousands of unreported deaths, including US army killings of civilians in the Afghan and Iraq Wars.
WikiLeaks releases have played a crucial role in exposing government and corporate evasions and denials, enabling journalists to uphold the public interest. IAMCR is dedicated to defending the principles of freedom of speech and the public right to know. Extradition of Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, and prosecution by the United States government would set an unwelcome precedent that threatens the welfare of whistle-blowers and discourages the sustained watchdog role of the media in democratic societies.
This text of this statement was drafted by the Clearinghouse for Public Statements and approved by Professor Janet Wasko, president of IAMCR. The Clearinghouse processes statements and/or manages the process of signing statements generated by others, that are principally concerned with issues relating to media/communications and where IAMCR members have substantive scientific expertise that provides a basis for seeking to influence discursive or material practice.