Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks: A Conversation by Renata Avila, Sarah Harrison, and Angela Richter
The most controversial activist organization of the 21st century, WikiLeaks has attracted strong, divergent opinions from across the political spectrum. Lauded by its supporters for its indispensable role in holding governments, corporations, and human rights abusers to account, its advocates and journalists have been excoriated by opponents as traitors, threats to legitimate governments, and misogynists. Yet so much media attention is focused upon founder Julian Assange, and his ongoing confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, that the broader dimensions of WikiLeaks are rarely aired. Especially critical in these omissions is the role of women, both in the organization and the more general struggle for information freedom.
Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks presents a conversation between three extraordinary advocates who have been at the forefront of such activity: acclaimed journalist and human rights advocate Sarah Harrison, Croatian-German theater director, activist and author Angela Richter, and Renata Avila, a celebrated Guatemalan human rights lawyer and digital rights expert. Ranging widely, from the dishonesty of the mainstream media and its contrasting treatment of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning to the terrifying monopolization of personal data under tech behemoths such as Facebook and Google, this book is a crucial intervention in the ongoing debate around digital activism.
“It’s been striking to me that, in my years of working in the world of digital activism, from WikiLeaks to a diverse range of internet groups, women are active and hold important positions, yet are seldom prominent. This is not because women lack the assertiveness to occupy a role in the foreground, as is so often claimed with a certain paternalism. It stems, in part, from the unwillingness of mainstream media to appreciate and fairly report the role of women … How else can one explain the description in the German weekly Der Spiegel’s (to just take one prominent example) of Sarah Harrison after her return to Europe from Moscow [where she had accompanied Edward Snowden on his escape from Hong Kong] as an ‘assistant’ or ‘friend’ of Assange, instead of describing her as a brave, independent journalist?” —Angela Richter, from the Introduction