Julian Assange, the elephant in the room at this year’s Journalism Festival in Perugia

The Australian journalist/editor is missing from the official program but activists will be distributing a pamphlet showing why his case touches everyone working in the media. They will also be handing out a flyer on the new Melzer book.

By Patrick Boylan

The great Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi lifted the curtain of silence surrounding Julian Assange last year at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia (ijf22) by presenting her book Il potere segreto. Perché vogliono distruggere Julian Assange e Wikileaks (Chiaralettere, 2021; in English, Secret Power: WikiLeaks and Its Enemies, Pluto Press, 2022).

This year, the Australian journalist-cum-publisher’s name is missing from the ijf23 program, and so the activists of FREE ASSANGE Italy, along with friends from Amnesty International in Perugia, will be present at the Festival to publicize a new book on Assange of equally exceptional value: The Trial of Julian Assange by Nils Melzer (Verso Books, 2022; just out in Italian as Il Processo a Julian Assange, Fazi Editore, 19/4/2023).

Many journalists, who have so far written little or nothing about the co-founder of WikiLeaks, complain that they lack a “hook”, i.e. a fresh and newsworthy insight into Julian’s case. Well, Melzer’s book will provide plenty of them. With the typical Swiss thoroughness that he displayed when UN Rapporteur on Torture, Melzer documents what is behind the judicial persecution of a courageous publisher who dared to reveal the misdeeds of the Powerful. What is under attack, he says, is investigative journalism itself and freedom of the press.

As Melzer writes:

When the truth is suppressed by rampant secrecy and censorship; when war criminals and exploiters enjoy impunity; when investigation reports on State-sanctioned torture are classified as a secret; when documents released by authorities under freedom of information laws are almost entirely redacted; when the established press no longer exercises its role as the ‘fourth estate’, but meekly censors itself – then we really live in a virtual world, deprived of any possibility to find out what exactly our governments are doing with the power and tax money we have entrusted to them. Then we need leaks in the system, cracks through which the light can penetrate and provide us with information.

FREE ASSANGE Italy has prepared a flyer on Melzer’s book as well as a pamphlet on the Assange case and freedom of the press, which will be distributed free of charge to ijf23 participants on Thursday, April 20, from 11am to 1pm outside Sala dei Notari and San Francesco Auditorium, at 2pm outside Brufani Hotel, at 3 pm outside San Francesco Auditorium and at 5pm outside Sala della Vaccara.

Redazione Italia