The story of Julian Assange remains a distraction from the even more serious retribution being inflicted on WikiLeaks by other agencies, including internet service providers, PayPal, Master Card and Visa, some under US pressure. And there was no hiding the pleasure of the US authorities when Assange was first remanded and bail refused at the court last week.

Don’t forget the calls by right wing commentators for Bradley Manning, (the United States soldier in Iraq who is under arrest and suspected of leaking the information) to be executed and that Assange himself be hunted down as a spy, as demanded by former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It shows a mood of intolerance and persecution that is dangerous not just for the two men, but for all journalists engaged in investigating public affairs.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens was right yesterday when he said that the Swedish authorities did not want to abide by the court’s decision to grant him bail. They want to put him through yet more trouble, more expense, more hurdles and will spare no expense to keep him in jail (even thought the offences the Swedish authorities appear to want to expedite him over do not carry a prison sentence). In a letter to the Guardian on 9 December, Women against Rape questioned the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange was being pursued over the allegations

Governments and corporations have no justification for their witch hunt against WikiLeaks. They are trying to cover their embarrassment by seeking to deny us the right to know. Many of the revelations expose corruption and double-dealing in public life that are worthy of public scrutiny. That’s why many governments and corporations are out to destroy WikiLeaks as a credible vehicle for exposing wrong doing.

WikiLeaks represents a landmark in journalism, which seeks to tell the truth to power. I’m pleased that the NUJ has joined with other supporters of freedom of information in demanding that WikiLeaks is defended and allowed to continue its important work in the public interest. Furthermore Julian Assange must be treated in accordance with the principles of justice, not vengeance.

Meanwhile you can sign the petition (WikiLeaks: Stop the crackdown) at: http://www.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/97.php

In addition you can view a recent interview given to RTTV by former MI5 whistleblower Annie Machon at: http://www.anniemachon.com/.