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BBC News correspondent Orla Guerin got more than she bargained for when her questioning of President Aliyev about the supposed lack of media freedom in his country ended up with him grilling her on Julian Assange’s imprisonment.
Guerin’s interview with Aliyev on Monday took an unexpected turn when the journalist alleged that the Azerbaijani people lacked access to non-state-sanctioned media and could not enjoy their human rights to the fullest, As evidence, she cited “many independent sources,” but did not name them.
The remark drew an angry rebuke from the president, who said the UK had “no moral right” to “lecture” other nations on the issue of freedom and human rights, particularly in light of the treatment of Julian Assange, who has suffered at the hands of British justice.
“Let’s talk about Assange. How many years [had] he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy? And for what? And where is he now? For journalistic activity, you kept this person hostage, actually killing him morally and physically. You did it, not us,” Aliyev said.
Assange spent seven years in the embassy in London until the asylum he was granted by Ecuador in 2012 was withdrawn. He was then arrested and transferred to the British capital’s Belmarsh maximum-security prison pending his US extradition trial.
The Wikileaks founder stands accused by the US of various computer crimes, including of aiding former US Army soldier turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning in her leaking of classified military documents in 2010.
Assange had previously also faced sexual assault charges in Sweden, but those have since been dropped. He viewed them as a pretext on which to politically persecute him and a lever by which to extradite him.
His supporters describe the case against him as a major threat to media freedom, and warn that his physical and mental health has seriously deteriorated since his arrest in 2019.
Aliyev also quizzed Guerin on the Western media’s exceptionally assertive (actually accusatory) approach to interviews, particularly when it came to other nations’ supposedly non-perfect human-rights records.
“It is not a question – it is [an] accusation. You talk like a prosecutor. Why? If you are so democratic and so objective, then why [do] you keep Assange in prison?” he said, adding that the West needed to “look [in] the mirror” before “coming and lecturing” others.
- "Source" -
Union of British journalists against Assange’s extradition: The national Union of Journalists in the UK (NUJ) urged the rest of the country’s labor unions to mobilize in order to prevent WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange´s extradition to the United States.
Frank Hayes 7h ago
Ms Guerin has covered many miles since she first came to prominence as a reporter for Ireland's state broadcaster, RTE. President Aliyev, Azerbaijani Head of State is equally well traveled. He is right to invite the UK state authorities to look in the mirror. If he does so himself, what's reflected may be no less pleasing to truth. The UK state has evolved to function as co-ordinator of manipulative class rule by a wealthy clique of super rich oligarchs - many non resident on the island. That's the nature of a capitaist state - to serve the interests of the powerful few and their administrative social appendages. It can, and has taken many different forms in the course of its historical development. Right now, the federated US state is in the throes of a battle for supremacy within the elite of its oligarchy —Manipulative subterfuge versus authoritarian dictatorship. But this only reflects many similar battlegrounds as the crisis of global systemic dysfunction renders the old 'representative' form of democracy inadequate to maintain the rule of the ruling class. No different, in the UK or Azerbaijan, or Russia or Nigeria. We live at the end of an epoch in which the stealing and owning of capital was the driving force of human existence. And these undemocratic state-forms can no longer keep the lid on as the kettle boils over. Mr Assange showed us how to make sense of this jigsaw of deceit, and many of us saw and learned to join the dots. For that, there will be no forgiveness by the 1% - unless we, who've seen the truth, combine our energies to obstruct the criminal behaviour of these states. Our future as a species requires us to embrace a new maturity of understanding, and the discarding of theold conspiracy theories deliberately conjured up to mislead and confuse. If enough of us grow up and turn towards creating a new synthesis of scientific methodology and artistic appraisal - working to create an authentic reflection of the world outside our individual thoughts - then we may overcome the reactionaries who own the media and drive its dollarised misinformation. It's up to you, dear reader. Are you for the easy lie - or for the penetration of fiction to reveal the sometimes uncomfortable truth? The choice is yours! But the outcome will effect the life of every person on our very ill planet.
Anne Sibley10h ago
Let's hope this is the first of many more 'put downs' over the way in which the Western media, specifically the BBC, continue with their extreme bias, they are ultimately responsible for the persecution of Julian Assange, they should all stand with him defending their right to publish the truth - shame on you! Let us see more world leaders react in this way, instead of tolerating Western Imperialist attitudes.
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