A damning fact about the BBC’s Assange coverage just emerged


If you regularly rely on BBC News, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the extradition hearing of publisher Julian Assange wasn’t happening. Because the public service broadcaster has been doing a distinctly unpublic service by barely covering it.

But a revelation by another journalist has exposed a damning fact about the BBC‘s lack of stories on Assange. And moreover, it’s home affairs correspondent has also admitted why he thinks his employer is ignoring the case.

Assange: the trial of the century?

You can read The Canary‘s coverage of the Assange case here. John McEvoy reported that:

Assange is currently being held in the UK’s Belmarsh Prison, as extradition proceedings to the US continue this week.

The extradition case centres around the publishing of classified US cables a decade ago, including evidence of war crimes. If extradited, he faces up to 175 years in prison.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown stopped the hearing earlier in the year. But it resumed on 7 September. And this restart appears to be one of only a handful of times in September that BBC News reported on, or referenced, Assange’s case –  according to a search of its online coverage.

People have been talking about the BBC‘s lack of coverage. And news monitoring group Media Lens has been all over the issue.

Sorry, what…?

It directly asked a BBC journalist where the coverage was:

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford hinted at why there was a lack of coverage. Apparently, the case is “repetitive”:

If by “repetitive” Sandford means:

  • World leaders demanding Assange’s freedom.
  • Witness evidence that undermines the entire case.
  • Press freedom like his being at risk.

Then yes, the Assange trial is “repetitive”. Boring, hey?

But a comment on social media by another journalist makes for even more damning reading.

“Filing copy”, apparently

Byline Times‘ James Doleman tweeted that:

As Media Lens quickly wondered:

The Canary asked the BBC for comment as to where it’s coverage of the Assange hearing was. We specifically wanted to know why it was sending a reporter there every day, yet not putting content out. We also asked why Sandford considers the trial “repetitive”. We asked this in the context that the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment called Assange’s trial the following on Twitter:

The BBC had not responded at the time of publication. Maybe it was busy preparing its latest article on Assange – to be marked ‘S’ for shredded. Or possibly it was preoccupied with more important things than, as Melzer said, ‘press freedom’, the ‘rule of law’ and the ‘future of democracy’.

But either way, the fact the BBC is sending a reporter into the hearing every day but not publishing their work is damning. Moreover, it entrenches the notion tha,t once again, our public service broadcaster is far from working in the public interest.

Featured image via Channel 4 News – YouTube and Wikimedia





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