(Photo credit from the International Federation of Journalists)

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) joins press freedom advocates all over the world in welcoming the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after more than five years in prison. 

Assange’s liberty is a partial but important victory for press freedom, and for the people’s right to know.  WikiLeaks and the media outfits who worked with, and used the information from WikiLeaks, published stories exposing US war crimes, which include US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the torture of Guantanamo bay prisoners, among others, as well as corruption cases involving powerful politicians in different parts of the world. These leaks are imbued with public interest, and relevant not only to American citizens but also to citizens of other nations. 

Like Assange, journalists access and publish information, including classified ones, that matter to their audiences. Such actions should not be criminalized. It is our duty to put a spotlight on abuses, and hold those in power accountable.

Assange’s fight is not yet over as he is compelled to plead guilty to an Espionage Act charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified national defense information in exchange for his freedom. This precondition bodes ill for journalists and other truth-tellers around the world, and calls on us to remain vigilant.

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