Assange is not a whistleblower and I wish people would stop dignifying what he has done with that sobriquet. A whistleblower is someone who works for, or with an organisation, discovers some wrongdoing, or apparent wrongdoing, and makes it known in a way appropriate to the alleged wrongdoing, and the consequences of its exposure. Most developed countries now have specific laws to protect such people and all reputable companies and organisations have Legal/HR/Security policies which both encourage and protect whistleblowers in the interests of good corporate governance – and the avoidance of severe legal penalties.
I have written whistleblowing policies. I have also acted on a couple of occasions as one of the ‘designated officers’ who are charged with investigating any allegations made under the policies and with ensuring the well-being, and sometimes physical safety, of anyone who comes forward with some allegations. (Also, with sorting out the legitimate allegations from the cheap shots by a disgruntled employee.)
The exposure of the MP expenses scandal was whistleblowing. There was a specific case of alleged wrongdoing and the whistleblower brought it to light. Those who had done wrong were exposed and most of them suffered penalties in one way or another. The consideration of whether or not the penalties were appropriate is left as an exercise for the reader.
What Assange has done, on the other hand, is scatter to the four winds a warehouse full of proprietary information without regard to whether or not there is any indication of wrongdoing to justify the action and without regard to the consequences. I was listening to the BBC World Service on my way home from work and there was an interview with one of the people who have left Wikileaks to set up a rival ‘service.’ He made the same point and asserted that the new service, Openleaks (?) will carry out some sort of quality control on any material that is sent to them and then make it available through ‘appropriate’ channels. That is whistleblowing.
I note, passim, that there was no such media feeding frenzy over the case of Marta Andreasen a few years back when she blew the whistle on the EU fraud manual budget. Fired and harrassed by the authorities until she was given sanctuary by UKIP, I didn’t see people tearing their hair out and electronically covering themselves in sackcloth and ashes on her behalf*. I wonder why?
*Note that she has now left UKIP because they didn’t meet her standards either. Obviously a very straight-laced lady. Still and all…