The Women of WikiLeaks: Speaking Truth to Power [Fair Observer]


Book review of ‘Women, Whistle-blowing, Wikileaks: A Conversation’. first published in Fair Observer on 28 July 2018:

Information, as powerful as it is, belongs to everyone and can help in individual self-determination.

At the center of any WikiLeaks discussion lies Julian Assange, the platform’s founder who has been embroiled in scandals and accusations of misogyny, amongst all else. Lesser known is the story of the women involved in the WikiLeaks phenomenon, as whistleblowing is an area of activity that, as Renata Avila, Sarah Harrison and Angela Richter write in Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks: A Conversation, is “widely perceived as heavily male dominated.”

This is because the mainstream media heavily focuses on key male players — not just Assange, but also journalist Glen Greenwald, whose work on the NSA surveillance disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden has brought them both into the international spotlight. Even Chelsea Manning, despite being a transgender woman, is often referred to as a “he.”

This is one of the notions brought up in the foreword of a book based on a conversation sparked between the women involved with WikiLeaks. Harrison, an acclaimed journalist; Richter, a Croatian-German theater director; and Avila, a celebrated Guatemalan human rights lawyer, are all women who have had prominent roles working within WikiLeaks. For instance, Harrison was at the heart of the Snowden revelations and accompanied him in his escape from Hong Kong to Moscow. Yet, as Richter points out in the foreword, instead of describing Harrison as a “brave, independent journalist,” she was often referred to in the media as “an ‘assistant’ or ‘friend’ of Assange.”

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