The Trump administration continues its heavy-handed assault on members of the media, a new film is set for release that not only serves as a case study but coincides with Trump’s extradition of Wikileaks Publisher and Editor, Julian Assange. The extradition hearing resumes Monday in London.
The film, entitled “The War on Journalism – the case of Julian Assange”, is directed by the award-winning investigative journalist and filmmaker Juan Passarelli, and narrated by filmmaker Suzie Gilbert, who worked with Oliver Stone for years. At the film’s world premiere, the acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach joined Passarelli and Gilbert for a Q&A session.
As a long-time Assange confidant who often worked inside the Ecuadoran embassy for years, Passarelli has had the most access to Assange and WikiLeaks and has filmed them for over ten years. He has directed and participated in the production of dozens of documentary films, most recently for the award-winning documentary “The Engineer,” about the brutal gang wars in El Salvador. Passarelli has been at the forefront of information security journalism with contributions in films such as Oscar winner “Citizenfour,” and and as Producer of the first season of “Infosec Bytes.” He has also helped train journalists and members of civil society around the world on how to improve their information and operational security.
Trump’s assault on the free press will be under an international spotlight next week with the resumption of Assange’s extradition. In an age where journalists are under attack globally for doing their jobs, Assange is facing a 175-year sentence for publishing factual documents if extradited to the United States. The Trump administration has gone from denigrating journalists as ‘enemies of the people’ to now criminalizing standard practices in journalism that have long served the public interest.
Passarelli, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist in his right, co-founded Guerrilla Pictures and Infosec Bytes. With over a decade of experience in his field, he has investigated a range of issues from the South African sex trade and the struggles of political dissidents under the Belarusian dictatorship to the global surveillance state lead by the NSA and the CIA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ.
Assange’s extradition is being sought by the Trump administration for publishing the US government documents that exposed war crimes and human rights abuses. He is held in the maximum-security HMP Belmarsh Prison in London.
“There is a war on journalism, and Julian Assange is at the center of that war,” said Passarelli. “If this precedent is set, then what happens to Assange can happen to any journalist.”
“The indictment of Julian Assange… is a threat to the press and the American People.”
- Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Intercept
“What Julian Assange is being targeted for is the same or similar as many journalists have done… it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists.” – Alan Rusbridger former editor-in-chief of The Guardian
“Assange is charged with asking for information, with receiving information, and with publishing information. And I don’t mind saying that those are exactly the things that I do.”
- Barton Gellman Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning journalist, formerly of the Washington Post
Credits: Written and directed by Juan Passarelli, Narration Suzie Gilbert, Camera Jose Passarelli and Neils Ladefoged, Online Editing, and FX Jose Passarelli.
The film is nominated for “Best Film” at the Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival.