In 1894 French artillery officer, Captain Afred Deryfus, was convicted of treason. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris and imprisoned on Devil’s Island where he spent five years incarcerated under harsh conditions. He was, of course, innocent. He was finally exonerated in 1906. Émile Zola wrote an open letter, 'J’Accuse' which started a movement in support of Dreyfus. Its supporters included Sarah Bernhardt, Anatole France, Charles Peguy, Henri Poincaré and Georges Clemenceau. As a Jew, Dreyfus was hated by an anti-semitic French establishment The role played by writers, media and public opinion proved influential in the long struggle for his freedom.
In 2019 Julian Assange was incarcerated in isolation at Belmarsh, a UK maximum security prison. He is being held there waiting for the US to agree his extradition to the US to face charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and for acts of ‘computer intrusion’. One of these intrusions is a 10 minute video of the 12 July 2007 US helicopter airstrike in Iraq which killed 18 civilians, including two Reuters journalists. The role played by the Media has been a disgrace and where is our Zola? ‘Public opinion’ is defined by the very media who remain silent on the matter.