top of page


Updated: Oct 3, 2023

The US government reportedly planned to kidnap and murder Julian Assange. And yet the Australian commentariat and media are silent. Why?


One of the features of the long running case of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange is how little interest is shown in it and him by the Australian mainstream media.

There are spikes in interest at key points, such as when in 2019, Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorean embassy where he was granted asylum in 2012. Another was the decision in early January this year by a UK court to block the request by the US to extradite Assange to that country on espionage charges.

But perhaps the biggest story of all has received little attention over the past fortnight.

That is, the revelations by Yahoo News that the man who became President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (and who it is said has White House ambitions) in 2017 ordered the CIA, which he was then running, to kidnap and murder Assange. Pompeo and his organisation had Assange and WikiLeaks declared non state hostile intelligence service after it published Vault 7, the CIA manual on hacking.

As Yahoo Media reported on September 26;

“Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred ‘at the highest levels’ of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. ‘There seemed to be no boundaries.'”

Can anyone think of a case where an Australian citizen has been the subject of a US government plan to commit serious criminal offences against them, in this case kidnapping and murder?

And this from our closest ally, ironically confirmed only 10 days before the Yahoo News report with the announcement of the AUKUS pact.

Yet while AUKUS is a gorging feast for Australian journalists and commentators in outlets such as The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and clubby chat shows like the ABC’s Insiders, the plot to murder an Australian citizen is now lucky to get a sidebar mention.

Let’s put it this way. If China, Russia, or a non-aligned state like Turkey went after an Australian citizen in the way the evangelical Christian Pompeo and his organisation did (what does Jesus say about murder again?) there would be political and media frenzy.

The commentariat and the media generally would demand that the Australian government do whatever it takes to ensure that citizen’s safety. Prime Minister Scott Morrison might call the ambassadors in Beijing, Moscow or Ankara back home. And on and on it would go as a story.

Yet the very same journalists and commentators who would create a cacophony of noise and outrage about such an egregious breach of the rule of law against an Australian citizen are silent on Washington’s criminal intent and proposed misconduct. Why? Is it because they self-censor on the Assange story, or so loathe WikiLeaks (as one former Canberra Press Gallery journalist once told me they do), that they will not hold the Australian and US governments to account?

Whatever the reason the burying by the media and the political class, with rare exceptions in the latter category such as Independent MP Andrew Willkie, of the plot to kidnap and murder Julian Assange, Australian citizen, is shameful. It says much about their bias and priorities.

Greg Barns SC is a long-time adviser to the Assange Australian Campaign and a member of LawAidInternational Chambers.



bottom of page