Controversial film directors Michael Moore and Oliver Stone joined forces to pen an op-ed Monday in the New York Times in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's effort to seek political asylum in Ecuador.
"We have spent our careers as filmmakers making the case that the news media in the United States often fail to inform Americans about the uglier actions of our own government," Moore and Stone wrote in the op-ed, which can be read here in its entirety. "We therefore have been deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks, and applaud Ecuador's decision to grant diplomatic asylum to its founder, Julian Assange, who is now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London."
Assange's WikiLeaks project, which mostly publishes secret cable communications provided by anonymous sources, is viewed with disdain by countries including the United States and United Kingdom who say it poses risks to national security. Some have labeled Assange a "terrorist."
In the op-ed, Moore and Stone defended WikiLeaks and touted what the directors viewed as its achievements.
"Since WikiLeaks' founding, it has revealed the 'Collateral Murder' footage that shows the seemingly indiscriminate killing of Baghdad civilians by a United States Apache attack helicopter; further fine-grained detail about the true face of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; United States collusion with Yemen's dictatorship to conceal our responsibility for bombing strikes there; the Obama administration's pressure on other nations not to prosecute Bush-era officials for torture; and much more," they wrote.
The op-ed by Moore and Stone is not unusual, considering the leftist directors signed the petition backing Assange's quest to gain political asylum in Ecuador.
Assange has been granted that asylum but remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, as the British will arrest if he tries to get to an airport and have even threatened to storm the embassy. The WikiLeaks founder is wanted by Swedish officials, who want Assange to answer charges in a sexual abuse case. Assange says Sweden will send him the United States if it gets its hands on him.
Stone and Moore strongly advised the U.S. government against charging Assange, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent. The U.S. Justice Department mulled charging the Australian national over the cables leaked by his organization.
"If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil," the directors wrote. "If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws. The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not."
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