Hazel Press

The Guardian and WikiLeaks

James Ball1 20101219-1_shamir

On the 2nd of July, 2010 Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, signed a confidentiality agreement with WikiLeaks.

Dear Julian,

 

I hearby undertake that, in return for access to the material known as Package 3 [U.S. diplomatic cables], the Guardian will observe the following conditions:

1. The material is for review only, and is not to be published without the express consent of Julian Assange or his authorized representatives.

2. The material will be held in conditions of strict confidence within The Guardian and will not be shown to any third party.

3. The material will not be viewed at any time on any computer terminal which is open to the Internet.

 

Signed, Alan Rusbridger

The confidentiality agreement stemmed from the Guardian's investigations editor, David Leigh, who had become concerned that if he didn't physically possess the historic 'scoops' contained within "Package 3", they might slip away: “What happens if you [Julian Assange] end up in an orange jump-suit en route to Guantánamo before you can release the full files?” Nevertheless, Julian Assange would not release the cables to the Guardian until the agreement was signed. Leigh received "Package 3" from WikiLeaks in October 2010. However, when he subsequently passed the Cablegate archive to Bill Keller, the editor of the New York Times (NYT), he broke this agreement. The reasons behind this betrayal are complex.

 

After reviewing numerous journalistic failures by the NYT, such as downplaying the extrajudicial killings by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Task Force 373, and hit pieces aimed at Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as an organisation, WikiLeaks planned to drop the newspaper and instead partner with the Washington Post (a paper lacking an immunity from the need to placate Washington) and the McClatchy Group for the diplomatic cables releases. The publication began on the 28th November 2010 with the release of 220 cables. Julian Assange:

We saw the New York Times as influential within its market, but on the other hand so corrupting of the material that we were trying to get out, and so hostile to us as an organisation in order to save itself, in order to distance itself, that we were not only betraying the impact of the material, but we were shooting ourselves as an organisation every time we work with the New York Times because the way they try to save themselves from the lash-back by military apologists in the United States was by attacking us, and therefore increasing the perceived separation. So for self-preservation and to achieve greater impact we decided the New York Times would have to go.

According to WikiLeaks, in October 2010 the Guardian was specifically told not to share "Package 3" with the NYT because discussions were underway with two other American news organizations. WikiLeaks has stated that one of the reasons for the betrayal was the Guardian's need to "keep their business alliance with the NYT strong".

 

Throughout 2010 and 2011, both the Guardian Media Group (GMG) and the NYT were experiencing financial difficulties. For the three years running up to June 2012, the GMG had lost £100,000 a day. In response, Andrew Miller, the chief executive of GMG, announced a "digital-first" strategy in 2011. This "major transformation" is the last chance for GMG. If a revenue leap from £47 million (2011) to £91 million (2015/16) is not achieved, the group's cash reserves of £197.5m - currently being drained at a rate of £38 million per year - will become exhausted. Facing a similar crisis, the NYT opted (March 2011) for a pay wall solution. A Barclays Capital assessment has projected that the pay wall could generate around $70 million per year. A series of assets sales has also been used to buttress the company's cash reserves.

 

It is likely that the links between the two papers revolve around the GMG's attempts to recover from its failed U.S. edition (GuardianAmerica.com), which was wound down in 2009. The paper is currently investing hundreds of thousands of pounds in stateside advertising in an attempt to increase its U.S. readership (29.7 percent of the paper's web traffic comes from U.S. readers) in hope of generating much needed U.S. business advertising dollars. The GMG has also re-launched its U.S. front page with a new URL (GuardianNews.com) and there is talk of following the NYTs' model of imposing subscription fees.

 

Another factor mentioned by WikiLeaks is that the Guardian considered that if the NYT published the cables first, it would help deflect accusations of espionage through acquiring the protection of the United States Constitution's First Amendment. Alan Rusbridger:

The lawyers were quite worried saying they could lock you up they could extradite you, you could be you know forbidden from ever going to America, they could do you under the espionage act, they could do this, this and this.

For these reasons, and to pursue U.S. advertising revenue, it could only be helpful to the newspaper to distance itself from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. When Assange learned of the Guardian's NYT breach of contract from a Der Spiegel journalist, he confronted Alan Rusbridger (Rusbridger refused to confirm or deny the transfer of the cables to the NYT). Contrary to all this and highlighting the duality of interests found within newspapers, WikiLeaks reported that they had taken a practical view of the Guardian's behaviour, with discussions taking place between the Guardian (with the sole condition that David Leigh would not be involved) and WikiLeaks on a further partnership based on the release of 15,000 Afghanistan War Logs held back from publication for a more detailed redaction review. However, events intervened and any processes of reconciliation were turned into mutual hostility.

Guard NYT Planned

Within weeks of the Assange-Rusbridger's meeting, the Guardian's infamous media campaign against WikiLeaks was underway. At this point, Alan Rusbridger and his brother-in-law David Leigh might have assumed that WikiLeaks was close to being destroyed. Julian Assange faced sex crime allegations in Sweden, WikiLeaks had suffered a failed internal coup attempt (which had resulted in the sabotaging of its servers and submissions systems), and it seemed likely that at any moment the United States would act decisively to silence the flow of leaks. Surely this was a good time to bury Assange, write a book, make a fortune in movie deals - and then talk about what the next WikiLeaks would look like.

 

The hit pieces filling the pages of the Guardian and David Leigh's cash-in book were part of a public relations message that can be distilled into the following: Julian Assange is unstable and cannot be trusted.

 

The media's reasoning was that: When Julian Assange published the cables he went too far. WikiLeaks' releases helped fuel the Tunisian uprising, which then inspired powerful revolutionary movements across the Middle East. It stands to reason that the next release might hurt us (the Western powers) at home, perhaps deeply. If Julian Assange's WikiLeaks cannot be persuaded to stay within the media's regime of censorship, either one or both must go.

While describing Julian Assange as a "quite deranged" "Frankenstein monster" to his journalism students at City University, David Leigh explained why he opposed Julian Assange's editorship of WikiLeaks: "[Julian Assange] doesn't understand the parameters of conventional journalism. He and his circle have a profound contempt for what they call the mainstream media." Leigh's instincts for and against WikiLeaks are similar to the one expressed above: It is fine in theory, the problem is the person and the philosophy that guides it. Of course, without the principles WikiLeaks is founded upon, it is just another "mainstream media" outlet producing "conventional journalism".

A straw man and Lukashenko

For political reasons, throughout Cablegate the Guardian had secretly added an unnecessary layer of redactions to the cables it was publishing. Naturally, WikiLeaks discovered this and was unimpressed, as would others when the news broke. The paper then used the contents of Leigh's yet to be published book to disguise the reality of their new conflict with WikiLeaks. Within the book there was a straw man called Israel Shamir.

This article was the beginning of what became a year-long slander focusing on Julian Assange's supposed 'anti-Semitism' and 'secret support for brutal dictators'. The slander quickly took hold in the UK press and fanned out worldwide, but it was actually driven by the Guardian and a small coterie of London-based liberal publications. It reached its apogee a year later with a much-criticised New Statesman article. While the Guardian depicts the events described in its report as fact, the New Statesman report makes it clear that they are allegations.

The Guardian, 31st January 2011: Holocaust denier in charge of handling Moscow cables. Extract from WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy discloses the antics of Israel Shamir, who pilloried the Swedish women who complained of rape. • Buy WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by David Leigh, Luke Harding here

According to one insider, he also demanded copies of cables about "the Jews". This WikiLeaks associate was better known as Israel Shamir. Subsequently, Shamir appeared in Moscow. According to a reporter on Russian paper Kommersant, he was offering to sell articles based on the cables for $10,000 (£6,300). He had already passed some to the state-backed publication Russian Reporter. He travelled on to Belarus, ruled by the Soviet-style dictator Alexander Lukashenko, where he met regime officials. The Russian Interfax News Agency reported that Shamir was WikiLeaks' "Russian representative", and had "confirmed the existence of the Belarus dossier".

The 'double cross system'

New Statesman, 1st March 2012: Julian Assange and Europe's Last Dictator. The former WikiLeaks chief [Assange] will moderate a public discussion about Belarus, despite damaging the cau, by Kapil Komireddi

In December 2010, Israel Shamir, a WikiLeaks associate and an intimate friend of Julian Assange - allegedly travelled to Belarus with a cache of unredacted American diplomatic cables concerning the country. He reportedly met Lukashenko's chief of staff, Vladimir Makei, handed over the documents to the government, and stayed in the country to "observe" the presidential elections.

Israel Shamir (an independent journalist who has worked with the BBC and Tel Aviv's Haaretz newspaper) never had "a role" in WikiLeaks, any more than any of the other dozens of journalists who received a selection of the cables to work on. He had a total of one or two meetings with WikiLeaks, in the same way that other freelance journalists did. He was handed an additional batch of cables on "the Jews" by James Ball ["the Jews" is James Ball's phrase for the Minsk and Moscow cables]. James Ball is a former City University student of David Leigh's, who then became a WikiLeaks intern for two months and, one month later, a full-time Guardian journalist. James Ball is very likely the "insider" mentioned as the source for elements of David Leigh's Israel Shamir story. Shamir has said that James Ball handed him the 'Minsk cables' of his own volition, contradicting Ball's much-delayed (May 2012) claim that he "was only following orders".

What does Israel Shamir say about James Ball's "anti-Semitic" accusations and the fate of the 'Minsk cables'?

"Naturally, as a son of Jewish parents and a man living in the Jewish state and deeply intimately involved with Jewish culture, I harbour no hate to a Jew because he is a Jew. [...] As for the accusation of “Holocaust denial”, my family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness [...] However, I did and do criticize various aspects of Jewish [Zionism] like so many Jewish and Christian thinkers before me, or even more so for I witnessed crimes of the Jewish state (against Palestinians) that originated in this worldview.

 

As for [the] "giving unredacted files" topic, this is a rather silly claim to be published in the Guardian, since this newspaper published the password to the whole lot. Moreover, their "redaction" of the cables distorted the meaning and safeguarded interests of British companies and American officials."

James Ball described WikiLeaks' response to the questions raised about Shamir as "a mealy-mouthed statement". However, the link he attaches to this phrase in his article goes to a Swiss WikiLeaks' mirror site; wikileaks.ch, not to wikileaks.org. It does not look like an authentic WikiLeaks' statement and it is also completely unrelated to the issues surrounding Shamir. WikiLeaks' actual statement concerning Shamir is very easy to find:

Tuesday 1st March 2011, WikiLeaks statement that was given to, but not used by, the UK satirical current-affairs magazine, Private Eye:

Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name and we have no plan that he do so. He is not an 'agent' of WikiLeaks. He has never been an employee of WikiLeaks and has never received monies from WikiLeaks or given monies to WikiLeaks or any related organization or individual. However, he has worked for the BBC, Haaretz, and many other reputable organizations. It is false that Shamir is 'an Assange intimate'. He interviewed Assange (on behalf of Russian media), as have many journalists. He took a photo at that time and has only met with WikiLeaks staff (including Assange) twice. It is false that 'he was trusted with selecting the 250,000 US State Department cables for the Russian media' or that he has had access to such at any time. Shamir was able to search through a limited portion of the cables with a view to writing articles for a range of Russian media. The media that subsequently employed him did so of their own accord and with no intervention or instruction by WikiLeaks. We do not have editorial control over the hundreds of journalists and publications based on our materials and it would be wrong for us to seek to do so. We do not approve or endorse the writings of the world's media. We disagree with many of the approaches taken in analyzing our material. Index did contact WikiLeaks as have many people and organisations for a variety of reasons. The quote used here is not complete. WikiLeaks also asked Index for further information on this subject. Most of these rumours had not, and have not, been properly corroborated. WikiLeaks therefore asked Index to let us know if they had received any further information on the subject. This would have helped WikiLeaks conduct further inquiries. We did not at the time, and never have, received any response.

A detailed look at the genesis of the Guardian's "Assange is anti-Semitic and has helped Lukashenko's regime" smear reveals some surprising discoveries.

 

The exaggerated role of Israel Shamir in WikiLeaks is an invention of the Guardian. It began in an article by the Guardian's Sweden-based religious affairs correspondent Andrew Brown at 4 pm on the 17th December 2010. This distortion originated in that article and was then placed on the Index on Censorship's website, in the New Statesman, and elsewhere. Later on the same day Andrew Brown opened the Guardian's attack on Israel Shamir at around 7 pm, the paper published six WikiLeaks cables stories on Belarus and Cuba. The Guardian then uploaded its redacted versions of the cables to a WikiLeaks website. This was the procedure agreed between WikiLeaks and its media partners across the whole Cablegate project: the partner newspaper writes a story it thinks its readers will be interested in, takes care of any necessary redactions, and then - immediately after the article is published in the newspaper - they upload the redacted version of the cable to the WikiLeaks website for publication there (whether the newspaper chooses to publish the cable in full, along with their article or not – many didn't). One of the Guardian's 17th December cable stories concerned Alexander Lukashenko and is based on three cables: MINSK 000311, TALLINN 000317 and MINSK 000641, the last of which had been so heavily redacted by the Guardian that it removed this list in its entirety: 3. (C) Belarus' top 50 oligarchs are (Embassy comments on the individuals follow some names in brackets):

Within weeks Israel Shamir would become the first journalist to write about the Guardian's 'cable cooking'. When WLCentral explored the 'cable cooking' issue, David Leigh responded with a tweet: "@wikileaks Another stupid lie from #Assange alleging 'cable censorship' by #Guardian, (stuck with UK libel laws as he knows). What a liar!" In the comments section at the bottom of the WLCentral article, Heather Marsh, Leigh and Shamir engaged in a discussion of libel, censorship and distorting source material. Marsh: "Anyone reading your version of the cable is left with the absolute impression that this, in the eyes of the world's most sophisticated intelligence gathering country, is the extent of Bulgarian organised crime. I would also really like to know why your lawyers felt that the Bulgarians were a libel risk but not the Russians? Your readers deserve to know, at the very least, what you have redacted [and] why you have redacted it. As to WikiLeaks being able to publish what it likes, so can the Guardian if they, like WikiLeaks, are willing to suffer the consequences. True journalism has never been for the faint of heart."

 

The Moscow Times also behaved in a similar manner when writing their Cablegate stories, except that, rather than redact politically difficult cables, they simply chose not to publish them at all. One of several sources for Brown's attack on Shamir, but which doesn't distort his role in WikiLeaks, comes from a Moscow Times article which sought to hide the content of the cables published in the Russian Reporter by focusing instead on Shamir's anti-Israeli government stance. When Leigh and Harding (the Guardian's Russia correspondent 2007 - 2011) picked up the Shamir story from Brown, they suffered an amnesia of Russia's post-Soviet political and economic landscape in order to attack WikiLeaks' reputation. Indeed, their article returned its readers to the days of Brezhnev and falsely described the small and fiercely independent magazine Russian Reporter (a WikiLeaks partner who Shamir had given cables to) as being "state-backed". This was done to imply that Shamir was in effect passing the U.S. cables directly to the Russian authorities. And yet it was the Russian Reporter that had dared to publish accurate WikiLeaks cable stories and Brown's and Leigh's 'corporate media' source, the Moscow Times (owned by Sanoma), that had sought to obscure the nature of the U.S. cables.

For context on Israel Shamir's views about the Israeli State, it is worth noting that the former head of Shin Bet (the Israeli intelligence service akin to a combined CIA and FBI), Avraham Shalom, has compared his own government's treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis: "[We’ve become] a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II." And every other living former head of Shin Bet has similar concerns.

 

A few hours after the six cable stories are published in the Guardian, Nick Davies publishes, at 9.30 pm, the notorious "10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange" Guardian hit piece based on a leaked copy of the Swedish police file. Bella Magnani of WLCentral: "Here’s the riddle, Nick: why an award-winning investigative journalist couldn’t see the many, many holes in the police investigation sitting on the desk in front of him. The personal and political association of the first investigative officer with one of the complainants; the disturbing news that she was allowed to sit in on the other woman’s interview; the tampering with statements on the police computer; the two women being allowed to produce revised statements on September 2 in the light of the so-far still secret SMS messages; the police asking a witness about a victim’s prior sex life (WTF?); the failure of police forensics to find DNA on the torn, supposedly used condom presented to police 12 days after the event. And that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg - there’s plenty more beneath the surface. So, Nick Davies, why did you choose to publish an article based on only one side of the story? In an alleged rape case? Would you consider that good journalistic practice? Or a disgrace to your profession?" Davies' article was the start of the character assassination of Julian Assange in the English-speaking media.

 

17th December 2010 is an interesting date for Davies' article (his reaction to criticism of the article is also interesting), as it is the date when WikiLeaks discovered that the Guardian's redactions went far beyond what was necessary. The redaction of the Alexander Lukashenko cable, MINSK 000641 - information that would have been picked up by many other media outlets, assisting the plight of the Lukashenko opposition by providing further external pressure upon the regime - days before the Belarus election, is highly damaging to the Guardian's reputation.

Many media entities who did not have direct access to the raw cables re-published the Guardian's redacted cables that had been uploaded to and re-posted by WikiLeaks, without being aware of the extent and validity of the Guardian's redactions. Major media organizations and highly regarded journalists such as the Italian newspaper L'Espresso's Stefania Maurizi were caught out by the cable deception in a series of important articles. Maurizi: "I've worked PERSONALLY on ALL @wikileaks cables releases for @espressonline NEVER EVER published cables cutting huge chunks" 9:50 AM - 27 Nov 12; "NOT EVEN @repubblicait censored it, as the cable was released in that HEAVILY redacted form by Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/230036" 12:28 PM - 27 Nov 12; "in Dec2010 @repubblicait DIDN't have access to database cables, so it couldn't know what had been redacted" 6:18 AM - 28 Nov 12.

 

There is absolutely no evidence that Shamir gave inappropriate cables to Lukashenko. Leigh and Harding's 'sources' for their allegations, the Russian newspaper Kommersant (owned by the oligarch Vladimir Yakovlev) and the Interfax News Agency (created by officials from the Voice of Russia), might well have every reason to attack someone handing highly damaging cables to Minsk and Moscow's mainstream and opposition media outlets, but why doesn't the Guardian mention this?

 

There are two Interfax articles that act as the Guardian's source material for these allegations, both dated 19th December 2010. The Interfax-West one does not mention Lukashenko, let alone the so-called "Belarus dossier" being handed over to "regime officials". The other, Interfax-Russia, does:

Minsk. December 19. INTERFAX.RU - Head of Administration of the current president of Belarus Vladimir MacKay met with attorney website WikiLeaks founder Israel Shamir.

Photojournalist portal www.interfax.by managed to photograph on the steps of the presidential administration, the only Russian-speaking accredited journalist at the site WikiLeaks Israel Shamir, who had come to Belarus to observe the presidential elections in the country on December 19. The presidential administration declined to comment on the substance of a conversation Mackey and attorney Assange. However, given that the Russian media has already started to spread information about the location on the website WikiLeaks data secret correspondence of the U.S. State Department regarding Alexander Lukashenko's position on the war in Georgia and the gas pipeline "Nord Stream", we can assume that the conversation was about WikiLeaks Belarusian dossier. In an interview to "Interfax-West" Shamir confirmed the existence of the "Belarus dossier". According to him, the website WikiLeaks has several thousands of classified documents, which are to some extent related to Belarus. He added that "the Belarusian dossier is written by Americans. There may be some interesting things."

While the INTERFAX.RU article hopefully makes more sense in Russian, what can be clearly understood is that it is full of inaccuracies and littered with basic errors of fact. This photo is Interfax-Russia's 'evidence'. It shows Shamir on the steps of the Belarus Presidential Administation Building in Minsk (Shamir's family comes from Minsk, his mother, Minsker, lived there until 22nd June 1941 and then moved to Siberia). This is the totality of the evidence against Shamir. Despite there being no evidence or sources of any kind contained within Interfax-Russia's supposed exposé, it is reported in the Guardian as fact. It is probable that Adam Holland's pro-Israeli blog is Interfax-Russia and the Guardian's actual source: 'Meanwhile in Belarus..' 19th December 2010.

 

President Alexander Lukashenko's controversial re-election also occurred on the 19th December 2010, making it an interesting date for these stories to emerge. What happened to Shamir's "Belarus dossier" which the Guardian says was given to Vladimir Makei, chief aide to Lukashenko, who they claim used it to arrest protesters in the aftermath of the 19th December? The cables had already been disseminated to numerous media outlets weeks before the election, so everybody had already seen the cables that WikiLeaks had authorized to be released; journalists, readers and therefore, obviously, also the security services. The whole "Belarus dossier" affair is nonsense. Charter 97, a Belarusian human rights organization, had been publishing the cables throughout this period, whilst under constant pressure from Lukashenko's government. The assault (which included cyber attacks) culminated with the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) physically raiding Charter 97's office on the 21st December. It is very likely that the KGB gained control of Charter 97's cables.

 

What story was Charter 97 running on the same day as the Adam Holland blog article? 'Makei afraid of Assange’s files'. Other "Belarus dossier" cable stories published by Charter 97 were: 'WikiLeaks describes Belarus as a virtual “mafia state”' (2nd December); 'WikiLeaks: Lukashenko can't be corrected' (18th December); 'WikiLeaks: Lukashenko's fortune estimated at 9 billion USD' (18th December). All of these articles came out before Shamir travelled to Belarus.

The Moscow Times journalist Vladimir Shpak has also confirmed that Shamir was not Russian Reporter's and other outlets' only conduit to WikiLeaks cables. However, Shamir was the most visible and, with his often hyperbolic pro-Palestinian rhetoric and controversial style, he made an easy target upon which to redirect the cables story. Both Minsk and Moscow ('Putin Bristles Over Leaked U.S. Cables', 10th December 2010, The Moscow Times) would have been increasingly keen to counteract the flow of bad publicity stemming from the cables and in the Belarus post-election crackdown - destroying the reputation of the cables could prove critical to the regime's aim to shatter hopes of reform.

 

It is informative that the sister of Andrei Sannikov's (the opposition leader jailed by Lukashenko), Irina, who is also the main spokesperson of the Free Belarus campaign, invited Julian Assange to the screening and audience Q&A of the campaign's film "Europe's Last Dictator". According to the director, Assange helped facilitate the making of the film and has been helping the Belarusian dissidents behind the scenes for a number of years. All this is verifiable but you won't find anything about it in the Guardian, the New Statesman or Index on Censorship.

 

The New Statesman, BBC's Panorama, the Jerusalem Post, Boing Boing and a couple of other blogs all recited the same 'Minsk cables' story but none of those articles pre-date the 31st January 2011 Guardian piece by Leigh and Harding.

 

The London left / liberal mainstream media is a clique. Smears are passed from media outlet to media outlet, "article hat-tip" style. By 1st March 2011, James Ball was already employed by the Guardian and fully capable of writing up Ian Hislop's ‘A Curious Conversation With Mr Assange’ (which built upon the exaggerated 'close links' between Assange and Shamir) in his own newspaper, but chose instead to slip the story to a widely read UK liberal blog:

Liberal Conspiracy, 1st March 2011: Assange goes off deep end – blaming Jews and the Guardian in Private Eye, by Sunny Hundal

The links between Private Eye and the Guardian are close. Hislop is a good friend of David Leigh's (as is John Kampfner, CEO of Index on Censorship) and the Guardian and Private Eye share an annual awards ceremony, set up in memory of journalist Paul Foot. The Liberal Conspiracy article went viral on the internet and received dozens of follow-up articles. This is a favorite method of the Guardian: they drop a story they wish to push but don't want to be the first to print (because their agenda would then be too obvious) into other friendly media - the New Statesman, Liberal Conspiracy, etc - and then use the resulting articles and spin-offs as 'sources' for follow-up articles in the Guardian on the same subject.

 

Regarding Hislop's Private Eye / Liberal Conspiracy / Guardian smear, Julian Assange responded "Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, 'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and in word. Rather than correct a smear, Mr. Hislop has attempted, perhaps not surprisingly, to justify one smear with another in the same direction."

 

While the liberal "conventional" media employed the overused but ever useful 'anti-Jewish smear' to attack Julian Assange, they openly displayed a pro-Israeli bias in their reporting of the plight of the Palestinians. A perfect example of this bias occurred on 15th August 2012, when the Guardian announced the hiring of Joshua Treviño as a correspondent with the paper's U.S. politics team, an individual who likes to tweet "Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla - well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me." And, "Not morally different from a Nazi convoy, is it? RT @KurtSchlichter: Sink the #flotilla. Enough screwing around with these psychos." And so on - ad infinitum. When questioned about this matter, the Guardian put out a statement: "We look forward to the open and robust debate that we are sure will follow between Josh and Guardian readers."

This is published in the latest edition of Private Eye (buy a copy!). The article is titled ‘A Curious Conversation With Mr Assange’ and it is the phone version of a horrible car crash. (hat-tip James Ball @jamesrbuk)

 

Unabashed by this error [Assange] went on to say that we were part of a conspiracy led by the Guardian which included journalist David Leigh, editor Alan Rusbridger and John Kampfner from Index on Censorship – all of whom “are Jewish”. I pointed out that Rusbridger is not actually Jewish, but Assange insisted that he was “sort of Jewish” because he was related to David Leigh (they are brothers-in-law).