From Nick Cohen's recent post in the Spectator, on Julian Assange's chutzpah in associating himself with the cause of freedom in Belarus.
Assange allowed Israel Shamir, a genuinely sinister Holocaust denier, to take unredacted US State Department cables to Belarus. These were pure gold for Lukashenko’s KGB because they contained the names of opposition figures who had spoken to American officials.
Shamir boasted in the far-left US magazine Counterpunch that Wikileaks had ‘revealed how… undeclared cash flows from the US coffers to the Belarus “opposition”.’ (His scare quotes.)
Lukashenko’s goons could not have been more appreciative. Shamir arrived in Belarus shortly after street protests against the dictator’s theft of the rigged 2010 general election. The KGB beat, arrested and imprisoned hundreds of demonstrators. The Belarusian state media said that Shamir had allowed the KGB to ‘show the background of what happened, to name the organizers, instigators and rioters, including foreign ones, without compromise, as well as to disclose the financing scheme of the destructive organizations’.
Among the figures the state press said Wikileaks had ‘exposed’ as America’s collaborators were Andrei Sannikov, widely regarded as the true winner of the election; Oleg Bebenin, Sannikov’s press secretary, who died in suspicious circumstances, as Lukashenko’s opponents are wont to do; and Vladimir Neklyayev, a writer and former president of Belarus PEN, who is now under house arrest.
Shamir’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories clearly did not bother Assange — in a furious phone call to the editor of Private Eye Assange claimed that Jewish journalists in Britain, several of whom weren’t Jews at all, were conspiring against him. He has also proved himself a loyal friend to post-communist autocrats — as he showed when he took a job on Russia Today — Putin’s English-language propaganda station.
Meanwhile Wikileaks’ grassing up of the Belarusian opposition is hardly a secret, although Assange tried to cover it up. When reporters and rebellious staff inside Wikileaks protested, Assange tried to pretend that Shamir had never worked for him. Privately Assange told Shamir that he could avoid embarrassment by working under an assumed name. When the BBC’s Panorama revealed Assange’s double-dealing, his lawyers accused the BBC of using stolen documents to expose their client — a priceless accusation for the apostle of openness to level after he had received 250,000 stolen US cables.Meanwhile, Assange is also working for the Kremlin backers of the Belarus regime:
How foolish of me it was to question whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange really had a deal to distribute his new talk show to hundreds of millions of viewers. It turns out he does: with Russia Today, the English-language news network launched by the Russian government to massage its international image.
That’s right: Assange, self-styled foe of government secrets and conspiracies of the powerful, is going to be a star on a TV network backed by the Kremlin. The same Kremlin that has done suspiciously little to investigate or prevent the killings and beatings of journalists that have plagued Russia for more than a decade. The same Kremlin accused of blatant fraud in December’s parliamentary elections. The same Kremlin whose control of the country’s broadcast media allowed it tosuppress coverage of the massive protests mounted in response to that fraud. The same Kremlin whose embrace of corruption led to Russia being named “the world’s most corrupt major economy” by Transparency International in 2011.
And so on. That Kremlin is Julian Assange’s new patron. The same Julian Assange who accused President Obama of putting “a chill across investigative journalism” by prosecuting Army leaker Bradley Manning.Russia Today has been the most strident supporter too of Bashar al-Assad's murderous regime in Syria. But CounterPunch, Shamir's publisher, has been pretty strident too.
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