The US administration’s clumsy handling of the WikiLeaks affair is endangering America’s traditionally strong ties with Australia, its trusted comrade-in-arms. In fact Australia’s prime minister Ms Julia Gillard and the Aussie foreign minister Kevin Rudd have begun to sing different tunes. (Kevin Rudd was removed from his post as prime minister owing to an internal coup and Ms Gillard became the prime minister).
While prime minister Ms Gillard said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act, foreign minister Kevin Rudd yesterday mounted a strong defence of Australian journalist Julian Assange‘s legal rights as the WikiLeaks founder prepared to face court in London tomorrow night.
Mr Rudd said he was prepared to intervene to have a laptop computer provided for Mr Assange in London’s Wandsworth prison to help the Australian prepare his defence and obtain bail at his appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court, reports news.com.
“Following suggestions by Julia Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland that Mr Assange may have his Australian passport cancelled, Mr Rudd said any such decision was his as Foreign Minister.
” ‘Under law, I’m responsible for the Passports Act, therefore the decisions concerning the withdrawal or otherwise of passports rests exclusively with the foreign minister based on the advice of the relevant agencies,’ Mr Rudd told The Australian in Cairo.
“Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek told Sky News’ Australian Agenda the leaks were very serious and threatened the workings of international diplomacy and the quality of advice public servants were willing to give.
“She broke ranks with some of her factional colleagues in the Labor Left, who told The Weekend Australian the government had overreacted to the leaks and should stop treating Mr Assange like a criminal.” More here…
More Labor MPs yesterday attacking the Prime Minister’s language and declaring their support for WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange and free speech, reports The Australian.
“Ms Gillard said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act, but Canberra has since insisted that was a reference to the original theft of the material by a junior US serviceman rather than any action by Mr Assange.
“Labor Left MP Maria Vamvakinou from Melbourne yesterday told The Australian the government had read the public mood wrongly on the issue and said she supported the release of the classified material. ‘The leaked material, I believe, the public should know about and have the right to know about this information. I believe that very strongly,’ she said. ‘If you believe in freedom of speech, you can’t pick and choose.’
“The ALP’s parliamentary Left national convenor Doug Cameron said he believed in freedom of the press and the right to publish material without Mr Assange being depicted as a traitor.
“West Australian Labor senator Louise Pratt said she wanted Mr Assange to get full consular assistance and said he should not be prejudged. “I hope that he doesn’t turn into the next David Hicks for the government.”
“Laurie Ferguson, a factional colleague of Ms Gillard, who told The Weekend Australian the government had overreacted to the WikiLeaks release of secret US documents, yesterday went further.
“He said if this kind of information was published before the Iraq war, history could be different. ‘It’s within living memory that there was a war in Iraq based on false information. Who knows if we had more information on that, what would have happened,’ he said.” More here…
Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.)
Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department’s SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi.
In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF’s Eco-tourism policy.
He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on “Development Journalism” to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years.
In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India — West Bengal and Orissa.
Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia.
Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there.
He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation.
And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.