WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange is set to become a member in good standing of the Australian journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).
ACTU president Ged Kearney will present a membership card to Mr Assange’s Australian lawyer, Rob Stary, at a ceremony in Melbourne this morning.
Victorian MEAA branch secretary Louise Connor said Mr Assange had contacted the Alliance in November just as the “cablegate” story began to break.
She said he noted at the time that his credit card had been cancelled and he might not be able to pay his union dues.
It had been decided to waive his union dues, she said.
“Julian Assange has been a member of the Media Alliance for several years. Clearly, with banking corporations freezing his accounts, his situation is quite extraordinary,” she said in a statement.
“We’ve drawn up a new union card for him and offer him the full support of his union and professional association.”
Australian-born Mr Assange remains in the UK on bail over Swedish sexual assault allegations.
WikiLeaks continues to progressively release 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables, as promised.
Ms Kearney said Mr Assange and WikiLeaks deserved support.
“WikiLeaks is simply performing the same function as media organisations have for centuries in facilitating the release of information in the public interest. Mr Assange’s rights should be respected just the same as other journalists,” she said in a statement.
“WikiLeaks has broken no Australian law and, as an Australian citizen, Julian Assange should be supported by the Australian government, not prematurely convicted.”