“One enjoying country, other military brig”

A recent article by Scott Shane in the New York Times contrasting the conditions of Bradley Manning, the alleged military whistleblower who leaked the diplomatic cables, and Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, sought to characterise the two men in wildly different ways.

The opening paragraphs vilify Assange, painting him as a playboy enjoying the luxuries of freedom:

“the flamboyant founder of WikiLeaks, is living on a supporter’s 600-acre estate outside London, where he has negotiated $1.7 million in book deals”

While at the same time valorising Manning, painting him as the victim of Assange’s desperate search for success:

“the young soldier accused of leaking the secret documents that brought WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange to fame and notoriety is locked in a tiny cell at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia”

The article went on to dryly discuss the conditions under which Manning is being held, quoting friends and family and military spokespersons in equal measure.

This piece was quickly picked up by BBC foreign editor Jon Williams who tweeted:

Instead of highlighting the severe conditions Manning is being held under and perhaps even criticising the US government for their intransigence, Williams uses Manning’s detention as a stick to beat Assange with. That tells you something about the way Wikileaks are perceived by some in the mainstream press.

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