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Truthdigger of the Week: Glenn Greenwald

For one reason or another, the media sometimes distort the public’s perception of a situation by treating plain facts as if they are up for debate. This week, Glenn Greenwald called out the New Statesman, long a standard bearing publication of the British left, for just such an offense.

“The New Statesman owes its readers a correction for a clear and crucial falsehood contained in this much-cited argument by its legal correspondent, David Allen Green,” Greenwald wrote in a column Friday about Julian Assange’s ongoing extradition case.

“As I noted on Wednesday, Green purported to debunk what he called ‘common misconceptions’ and ‘myths’ being spread by supporters of Ecuador’s asylum decision in the Assange case, but in doing so, he propagated his own myth on the key question in this matter. By doing so, he misled large numbers of readers not only at the New Statesman but in many other venues which cited his claims. Regardless of one’s views on the asylum matter, nobody should want clear errors on the central issues to be left standing in major media outlets.”

No, we don’t. And that’s why it is disconcerting that the magazine has yet to correct Green’s claim that the Swedish government lacks the authority to guarantee that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States after answering questions about rape allegations in Sweden, Greenwald writes.

“[I]t would not be legally possible for Swedish [sic] government to give any guarantee about a future extradition, and nor would it have any binding effect on the Swedish legal system in the event of a future extradition request,” Green wrote in the New Statesman on Monday. “[A]ny final word on an extradition would (quite properly) be with an independent Swedish court, and not the government giving the purported ‘guarantee.’ ”

These claims are patently false, Greenwald tells us, before going on with trademark meticulousness to cite at length three lawyers and legal scholars who rebut Green’s claim. “Even if the supreme court has found that there are no obstacles,” University of Stockholm law professor Mark Klamberg writes, “the government can refuse extradition.”

In conclusion, Greenwald says: “It is inconceivable that the New Statesman would allow such a flagrant error on this key issue to remain unretracted, particularly since it was offered under the guise of Green’s legal expertise. Indeed, when replying to Green on Wednesday, I myself assumed that there must be some reasonable basis to his claim about the lack of authority on the part of the Swedish government over extradition requests, and thus too readily vested his claim with credibility: a mistake I immediately corrected with updates upon learning that his claim was false. The New Statesman has the absolute journalistic obligation to prominently correct this error.”

For putting his superior understanding of legal matters to work against media outlets playing loose with the facts, and in defense of a man who is unquestionably being pursued for revealing the dirty secrets and misbehavior of Western political, economic and media elites, we honor Glenn Greenwald as our Truthdigger of the Week.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly. Follow him on Twitter: @areedkelly.

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