Australia’s media union has waived Julian Assange’s fees for a year after MasterCard cancelled his credit card.
The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief contacted the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance in November, when contents of secret US government cables his organisation had obtained became public, saying he was unable to pay his union dues.
Louise Connor, the union’s Victorian secretary, said Assange had been a union member since 1997. She said Assange had not breached the journalists’ code of ethics and that he continued to protect his sources and publish in the public interest.
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Assange’s Melbourne lawyer, Rob Stary, who today received Assange’s new union membership card, said his client had simply continued a “great tradition of fearless reporting” that already existed in Australia.
He said that the Gillard government should adopt an interventionist role to stop Mr Assange being extradited to the United States, as neither Australian nor American authorities had been able to identify charges that could be laid against him over the leaked cables.
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said that “what WikiLeaks is doing is nothing more than what media organisations have been doing for centuries in the interests of a robust democracy”.
Ms Connor said Mr Assange should be afforded the same protection by American authorities over his publication of the cables as US newspapers which were also publishing them, such as The New York Times.