Six years on from the ‘detention’ of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and the governments that rule the world are still peddling their lies. These include contrived notions of how western liberal democracies are of the people, by the people, for the people. In reality, this is little more than a false narrative employed against those states which dare to supplicate before their own conflicting interpretations of global capitalism. Particularly when it comes to Putin’s Russia or, indeed, much of the Muslim world. Yet the key to maintaining such populism is the charade of a free media as the natural counter to totalitarianism. For if this were truly the case, the British and American regimes would not have effectively incarcerated the WikiLeaks founder. Not when the world’s largest data dump empowered sections of the UK, US and German media to talk truth to power. Among the big reveals were the Afghanistan War logs, the Iraq War logs and CableGate; all of which prompted the then editor of The Guardian to term these “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years”. This naturally begs the question as to what extent editors are obliged to protect or at least defend sources. For there is surely something wrong with the picture when media outlets are able to profit from such disclosures while whistle-blowers, to use modern parlance, face criminal investigations. John Pilger, the award-winning journalist, routinely raises this issue. Indeed, he goes as far as to term such practices “Vichy journalism”; in reference to the French regime of the same name that collaborated with the Nazis. And he is right. This is not to single out individual outlets. But it is to underscore how much of the western media suffers from selective amnesia. Especially when it comes to recent fraudulent warfare and warmongering by their own governments. And it contributes to non-accountability for those who have their fingers on the trigger. From Tony Blair to Hillary Clinton and everyone in between. In fact, this represents the biggest betrayal of Assange; while not forgetting Edward Snowden who this week commemorates his fifth year in asylum. Yet there is still time to redress the great imbalance. At least in the immediate short-term. But it will entail more than candlelit vigils to pressure the British authorities into granting the WikiLeaks founder safe passage to hospital amid concerns of deteriorating physical and psychological health. For as things currently stand, the choice before him has been summed up as one between the human right to asylum and the human right to medical treatment. Similarly, concerted efforts must be made to appeal the British courts’ decision to uphold his arrest warrant. There is now talk of involving the UN. Admittedly, much of this falls beyond the media’s ambit. But where the latter has the power is in providing unrelenting coverage of Assange’s inhumane detention. Every single day. Not just once a year. For the ramifications go far beyond the personal plight of a middle-class white man. This is a battle for the very soul of the fourth estate. * Published in Daily Times, June 22nd 2018.