VIDEO: Julian Assange speaks to Ecuadorian audience at CUPRE conference21 de junio de 2013 10:40
The final day of the Conference for Responsible Journalism (CUPRE) in Ecuador finished with a bang: a surprise teleconference with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in Ecuadors London embassy for a year.
For the first time, Assange addressed an Ecuadorian audience directly, and was even able to take a couple of audience questions before his internet link-up to the Guayaquil crowd failed.
The CUPRE was an opportunity for Ecuadors national government to publicize and defend their new Communications Law. This law, pàssed by the Assembly but not yet signed by the president, has already been criticized inside and outside of Ecuador (Human Rights Watch, the UNs Special Rapporteur, the U.S. State Department, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and foreign media outlets) as an attack on free speech. The Knight Center broke down the key points of the law on their blog.
Julian Assange, one of the worlds most visible symbols of information activism, spoke to the crowd about his personal concept of the importance of free speech and free information, and even addressed how it relates to the internal processes to democratize communication in Ecuador that are embodied in the new Law.
To an audience consisting of journalism students, government employees, journalists and party faithful, Assange said that "journalism is the most noble profession," because it helps define what is politically possible in a society. Like Ecuadors president, he warned that media companies have, however, become too close to political power, the powerful who they should be watching on behalf of the public. He also said that the right to communicate is the foundation that makes other human rights possible
Assange dedicated a portion of his talk to criticizing how outlets like the New York Times and The Guardian distorted information found in the cables, broke their agreement to Wikileaks, and reported false stories based on a limited reading of diplomatic cables about Irans nuclear program and the 2011 Belarus election.