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BLOG: The arrested development of Julian Assange

Zafar Anjum | April 17, 2012
Cyberspace's most famous activist, Julian Assange, has been under house arrest for more than a year now. But he is not keeping quiet.

Is it retrogressive if a new media pioneer goes back to the traditional mainstream media to air his views?

Whatever you call it, this is exactly what Cyberspace's most famous activist, Julian Assange, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, is going to do today.

In January this year, WikiLeaks announced that Assange would launch "a series of in-depth conversations with key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries from around the world", titled The World Tomorrow.

Perhaps Assange had no choice but to try something traditional. One, he is under house arrest in the U.K, which means travelling is out for him. Two, his WikiLeaks has been denied the oxygen of money for about 500 days now. The website is facing a financial blockade imposed by U.S. banks.

It is noteworthy that as long as Assange did not touch the banks, he was tolerated by the system. The leaks of U.S. embassy cables damaged the reputation of many countries and their heads but Assange was still able to do his work. When he was about to leak some secret documents of a bank (reportedly it was Bank of America), all hell broke loose.

Assange might have learnt his lesson. It is fine to touch politicians. But never touch the bankers.

Or, has he? His show will reveal it.

The World Tomorrow

The first episode of Assange's show is going to air today. He has chosen RT, an English-language international satellite news channel, headquartered in Russia. The programme will also be broadcast on other national channels.

This will be a weekly show and each episode will be 26 minutes long.

Assange, who is under house arrest, faces allegations of rape and sexual assault lodged by two women in Sweden. Britain's Supreme Court is to decide if Assange should be extradited to Sweden. Ironically, no charges have been officially filed against him.

RT has said that the programme, written and hosted by Assange, will focus on his favourite topic: controversy. ­The show will feature 10 "iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders" - people Assange can clearly identify with, the channel said.

The show has been shot at the very location that Julian Assange has been under house arrest for the last year and a half.

In a recent interview with RT, Assange said that he chose RT because he found the channel's penetration higher than Al Jazeera's. "We've seen RT's reportage on the attacks on WikiLeaks for a number of years, and that reportage has generally been quite supportive," he said. "When we were looking what international broadcaster we wished to partner with as opposed to national broadcasters, we looked to see what was the penetration into the United States. And RT had higher penetration in the United States than Al Jazeera."


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