Don't be too quick to cheer arrest of Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in Ecuador's London embassy on April 11, 2019.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in Ecuador's London embassy on April 11, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

Owing to the move towards transparency and integrity of our Government, Singapore ranks high up and well on the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International.

Nonetheless, our system is among the rare rather than the norm in the world.

As such, we depend upon the work of courageous and innovative investigative journalists to bring to light obscured actions of those in power, and we should not be too quick to cheer the arrest and possible extradition of Julian Assange (WikiLeaks founder arrested in Ecuador's London embassy, April 12).

Whether Assange had engaged in common journalistic practices to protect his source, or violated the law by alleged hacking practices, is beyond our realm of knowledge and judgment; however, I find it particularly disturbing that so many should be revelling in his arrest.

We tend to take journalists for granted because a fresh copy of newspaper reliably awaits us at our doorstep every morning come rain or shine.

Their work, however, can be plagued with dangers seldom known to us (Journalism and perils it faces; Nov 3, 2018).

According to Reporters without Borders, last year, 80 journalists were killed, 60 were held hostage, 348 were detained and three had gone missing.

While the majority might have lost their lives in combat zones, at least 30 were killed in retaliation for their reporting.

It wasn't that long ago when the deaths of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia hit newsstands.

Regardless of our personal opinion of Julian Assange, he did unearth a great deal of significant information that not only opened the public's eyes, but was also picked up and used by major media outlets.

Whether justified or otherwise, his conviction will most certainly have a wintry effect on press freedom.

Lily Ong