By Oscar Grenfell
11 July 2020
On Wednesday evening Gleebooks, a leading Sydney bookstore, hosted an online launch of Andrew Fowler’s updated biography of Julian Assange entitled The Most Dangerous Man in the World.
The event was a welcome breach in the official silence on Assange’s plight by the Australian political and media establishment, which is usually punctuated only by the promotion of lies and slanders directed against the WikiLeaks founder.
Veteran journalist Fowler, who has received multiple awards for his investigative journalism, was interviewed by Mary Kostakidis, who hosted the “SBS World News” national television program for more than two decades.
The two journalists were forthright in their defence of Assange, who is incarcerated in Britain’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison and faces extradition to the US, where he would be imprisoned for life for exposing American war crimes.
They did not pull any punches in indicting Australian governments for their role in the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder. Both condemned the failure of many of their colleagues to defend Assange and insisted that the fight for his rights was essential to the defence of press freedom worldwide.
The first edition of Fowler’s biography was published in 2011, amid the global political upheavals sparked by WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables exposing Washington’s political interference operations, coup-plotting and connivance in the corruption of its client regimes.
At the time, Assange was being denounced as a “terrorist” by senior US political figures, including current Democratic Party nominee for president, Joe Biden. He was already being ensnared in the British legal system, on the basis of bogus allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden, ably exposed as a politically-motivated frame-up by Fowler.
The book was based on extensive research, including dozens of interviews with Assange. It took its name from former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s description of Daniel Ellsberg, the famous Pentagon Papers leaker who exposed the criminality of the Vietnam war in the 1970s, as “the most dangerous man in the world.”
While not uncritical of Assange, it was unequivocal in its conclusion that WikiLeaks had “delivered to journalism an old-fashioned idea reborn: real journalism is simply the disclosure of whatever powerful vested interests want kept secret.”