No WikiLeaks documents on Russia raises suspicion

Russia appears to be the least targeted when it comes to leaked documents and even seems to benefit from them

Diana Moukalled

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It is difficult to ignore the critical views pertaining to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s judgment, especially considering his position in the crisis between the United States, which the leaked documents focus on, and Russia, which acts like a sponsor for Assange and markets the documents he reveals. More importantly though, Russia appears to be the least targeted when it comes to leaked documents and, on the contrary, seems to benefit from them.

We must admit that for a decade now, Assange has managed to completely change the concept of investigative journalism and succeeded in exposing the fault lines within democratic societies and political regimes. However, it is naive to submit to Assange’s mockery of the current campaign against him and to his statements that the criticism directed at him is nothing but a mere “American McCarthyism against Russia.”

Assange has been engaged in many struggles and disputes to defend the documents he leaked. There are several cases pending against him that have led to legal procedures in Sweden and in other countries. He has been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for years now as he cannot leave without getting arrested.

The most prominent critique of Assange was detailed in a comprehensive report published by the New York Times. The report raises important questions about Assange’s relations with Russia and the significance of documents leaked about Russia.

It also addresses how WikiLeaks gradually lost interest in publishing documents pertaining to facts, which the entire world knows about Kremlin and its involvement in struggles and violations in and outside Russia.

Meanwhile, there is a professional relationship between Assange and the Russian Today channel. This is in addition to the fact that Russian media outlets and President Vladimir Putin have continuously marketed Assange’s work.

This does not mean that the documents leaked about the US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and about the American administration are not true as they contribute toward establishing a transparent and more just societies.

There is something really suspicious about the Russian role in Assange’s work and his silence over Russia’s reported violations

Diana Moukalled

Investigative journalism

Modern investigative journalism, which Assange represents, is in an unpleasant situation because there is currently a party that is attempting to exploit it against another. This transforms investigative journalism from a tool that exposes wrongful acts into the one that covers some parties’ ill practices.

What’s interesting in the reports that discuss Assange’s motives are the testimonies of people who have worked with him but then stopped because they felt that the battles that Assange is fighting, particularly those related to American elections, are closer to being personal and based on revenge. As a result, they do not aim to serve the public interest.

Any person who is convinced about the role of journalism and its significance will be concerned about the decline of a website like WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, the documents of Edward Snowden and the Panama Papers, have heralded a new phase of investigative journalism during our digital era as they exposed details pertaining to random acts of corruption and political hypocrisy.

This is why these documents – that relate to influential figures – are significant. In these cases, there is a threat that people like Assange will fall into the trap of the inflated ego which might delude them into believing that they are fighting certain parties.

Assange has already displayed courage in the many stances he has taken and the documents he has leaked. However, there is something really suspicious about the Russian role in Assange’s work and his silence over Russia’s reported violations.

It is true that Assange is the mastermind behind WikiLeaks but it is disappointing to see his journalistic work being sometimes being reduced to personal calculations.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 12, 2016.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.