The values of

Diani Barreto

WikiLeaks was a pioneering enterprise that revolutionized journalism; they made large data sets available to the public in an indexed, searchable form, as a public repository of forbidden knowledge, some of which contained proof of state crimes and war crimes. Through their heterodox publications, they could question the acumen and purview of the state and the state had to answer to these questions after great public outcry over said publications. 14 years on since its inception, the state is now involved in a vicious witchhunt to discourage any such, what it considers to be, heretical journalistic activity.

It was then, that I became captivated about the persona of the vexatious truth-teller, and realized just how brave, fragile and selfless these rare individuals are; due to the grave risks they are potentially subjected to for the rest of their lives. They risk life, liberty, freedom, financial ruin, blacklisting, broken marriages, torture, incarceration, solitary confinement, in order to shed light on inconvenient truths, for the public welfare.

Daniel Ellsberg, the famed Pentagon Papers leaker, spearheaded whistleblowing almost 50 years ago through his visceral understanding of the importance of full documents for public interest disclosure; he is and remains the prodigal Godfather to all future whistleblowers with his legacy; but WikiLeaks has effectively heralded in the age of Whistleblowing; a field I fell into by chance, and have devoted myself to since, for the better part of 9 years now, as a whistleblower researcher, advocate, campaigner and caretaker.

Michel Foucault, in his work Fearless Speech, taught us the ancient Greek word, Parrhesiazesthai, “to tell the truth.” This Pharrhesia, or “fearless speech”, appears to have become the most radical act of civil disobedience our time, this truth-speaking in the name of Justice, of ultima ratio, — to uphold Reason and basic tenets of human decency.

Truth-telling is an act of lèse majesté, — an act that offends the powerful, by putting into question the legality of hidden agenda and the very legitimacy of secret-mongering and the obsession of over-classification, — a malady that plagues us today in the omniscient obscurantist cult of national security that reigns with impunity, — by brazenly challenging their supremacy of the narrative, that is wielded by the those that hold the monopoly of power and information.

It hasn’t always been easy path to tread; but I am grateful, for this experience has enriched my life immensely; having afforded me the experience of interacting with some of the most brilliant, — some would argue, dangerous minds of my generation, and has taught me invaluable lessons on the nature of the power of truth, corruption, the ethics of politics, compassion and the indomitable nobility of the human spirit.
Portrait of Diani Barreto for Valid Values, a project about Julian Assange by Richard Lahuis