Julian Assange: From Hacker Ethic to Wikileaks is an Italian Graphic Novel by Dario Morgante and Gianluca Constantini. I read the English translation.
The first panels are fields of white, cinematically revealing a city – could be any city in the world. Then we see a CRT with the YouTube homepage transitioning to thick-bordered square panels we see the events of the video later known as “Collateral Murder” play out in comic-book form.
A powerful opening for a powerful story. The story follows Julian Assange’s life using flashbacks and flash-forward to present its engaging story beats as events in Assange’s past give a context for the events portraying his work at Wikileaks. The creators use a motif of hallucination of shadow puppets to portray Assange’s internal dialog artistically but make clear in the forward that this is artistic license used in the storytelling and not based on anything reported about Assange, as when it was originally written in 2011, and there was little knowledge and rumor about Julian Assange For this 2021 English edition by Countershock Press, a new final chapter has been added which brings the story up to 2021 with Julian Assange detained by the United Kingdom Government while the United States Government seeks his extradition.
This story is a breath of fresh air in the tradition of the Italian political novel for me who has been subjected to character assassination of Assange by politicians and amplified by the complicit press who seem to value access to the powerful over the duty of reporting their crimes.
The story articulates Julian Assange’s version of the Hacker Ethic, namely:
First: Don’t damage computer systems you break into.Julian Assange From Hacker Ethic to Wikileaks p. 17
Second: Don’t change the information in the systems.
Third: Share Information
From these three principles, the story unfolds first as the young computer Hacker, Mendax, exploring systems through his home computer and a modem, to the publisher of crimes of the powerful on Wikileaks. The art is charming, and the story’s pace makes this an easy and engaging read.
The medium of the graphic novel combining illustration and literature has long been a favorite way for me to consume stories, and this tome was quite enjoyable while working as a precis to the events that have led to Assange giving up his freedom to tell the world the truth, and the machinations since of the United States and its allies to silence those that expose their crimes. With the United States refusing to be a member of the World Court, the only way to hold them accountable for war crimes is for journalists to bring forth that which the Military Industrial Complex would rather remain hidden so as to protect their profits through conflict throughout the world at the cost of human lives, warfighters and civilians alike like the 2 Reuters journalists among the 18 dead and 2 children wounded in the video known as Collateral Murder all of who were unarmed.
The people must have the facts surrounding the actions of their government so that they can form public opinion without manipulation. This is the mission of Wikileaks. This graphic novel teaches the underlying philosophy that drives Julian Assange in an approachable manner, and I urge everyone to read this, as he is awaiting his extradition hearing in the United Kingdom.
Free Julian Assange now! Journalism is not a Crime!