Yesterday, WikiLeaks sent a very long and apparently very real email to journalists informing them of 140 statements about Julian Assange that should be considered “false and defamatory,” and therefore should not be used in their coverage. According to Reuters, the unprompted communiqué came with the advisory that it was a “confidential legal communication” and “not for publication.” That didn’t stop Reuters from running a story about it, or the independent journalist Emma Best from publishing the list in its entirety.
The demands about Assange coverage are almost unbelievably funny. So is the fact that an organization built on radical free speech and publishing other peoples’ secrets is attempting to secretly police the speech of other organizations, and failing when those other organizations exercise the same principles that Wikileaks supposedly values. If Wikileaks itself hadn’t tweeted a slightly edited version after the (5,000-word!) original document received the requisite attention and ridicule, you might think you were reading parody.
We here at Spin are principled journalists who value truth and integrity. Therefore, we would like to make it abundantly clear that we are not alleging any of the following statements to be true about Assange, who at the time of this writing has lived under political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the last six and a half years, but is 100 percent not going even a little bit stir crazy. We are simply taking text from Wikileaks’ own list and reproducing it here, for comedy purposes.
We are most certainly not saying:
That Julian Assange is “anti-American” or “anti-U.S.”
That WikiLeaks does not have a perfect record of accurately verifying its publications.
That Julian Assange “fled” to the Embassy of Ecuador.
That Julian Assange is, or has been, “hiding” in the embassy.
That Julian Assange’s asylum is “self-imposed” or that he is “free to walk out any time he likes.”
That Julian Assange applied for political asylum over “sex allegations” or “extradition to Sweden” or to “avoid questioning.”
That the dropped Swedish preliminary investigation against Julian Assange ever had any legitimacy whatsoever.
That Julian Assange is not an award-winning editor, journalist, publisher, author and producer who has won the highest journalism award in his country, the Walkley, among many others.
That Julian Assange is not the sole founder of WikiLeaks.
That Julian Assange’s profession is “computer programmer.”
That Julian Assange filed a lawsuit or any other measure against Ecuador over his pet cat, laundry or cleaning.
That Julian Assange has ever called to overthrow the Spanish state by calling for the independence of Catalonia.
That Julian Assange, or his mother, or his father, is, or was ever, a member of a cult.
That Julian Assange bleaches his hair.
That Julian Assange’s mother is, or ever was, a “hippie.”
That Ecuador’s threats to terminate Julian Assange’s asylum have anything whatsoever to do with his conduct in the embassy.
That Julian Assange has ever walked into embassy meeting rooms in his underwear.
That Julian Assange drinks to excess.
That Ecuador suggested that Julian Assange did not look after his cat or asked him to improve his care of it.
That Julian Assange has ever neglected an animal.
That Ecuador asked Julian Assange to improve his hygiene.
That Julian Assange is “far-left” or “far-right.”
That Julian Assange is a racist.
That Julian Assange is a rapist.
That Julian Assange is a murderer.
That Julian Assange stinks.
That Julian Assange has ever tortured a cat or dog.
That Julian Assange does not use cutlery or does not wash his hands.
That Julian Assange lives, or has ever lived, in a basement, cupboard or under the stairs.
That Julian Assange has ever attacked a member of staff at the embassy.
That Julian Assange has ever played soccer or used a skateboard during week days or office hours at the embassy.
That Julian Assange has ever published, uttered or tried to promote a “conspiracy theory.”
That Julian Assange wants to harm the United States or any other State or people.
Phew! That’s a lot. For further reading about what Julian Assange absolutely isn’t like and the things he definitely doesn’t do, consult the full document here.