Dramatic footage of Julian Assange arrest in London was obtained by Russia-backed agency leaving British broadcasters 'embarrassed'
The dramatic footage of establishment whistleblower Julian Assange being apprehended and carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London was obtained by Ruptly, a subsidiary of the Russian government-backed news agency RT.
According to Laura Lucchini, head of Ruptly's newsroom, the news service has maintained a 24-hour watch on the embassy since April 5. The Berlin-based agency is notorious for live streaming events that other media bigwigs choose to ignore, including several protests and public disorder.
Jim Waterson, a media editor for The Guardian, wrote how British news outlets were unable to capture such a significant event in their own backyard. "Embarrassingly, British television stations are now having to rely on footage from a Russian government-backed news organization to cover an event which took place on their own backyard in Central London," he wrote.
According to him, multiple sources at broadcasters in the UK suggested there had been an agreement between the BBC, ITN, and Sky News to take turns to provide a camera outside the embassy. While the arrangement came into effect on April 5, efforts were abandoned over the weekend after news editors somehow "concluded" Assange would not be leaving immediately. This cost major British broadcasters the key moment on video, and they were forced to use footage captured by a foreign agency.
Assange has enjoyed the support of RT, previously known as Russia Today, for the longest time. Due to their longstanding backing of his associated causes, several outlets are now speculating that RT could have received a tip about the imminent arrest so that they were prepared to capture the incident on time, Waterson wrote.
Nonetheless, journalists at Ruptly have maintained that they were "more committed" to having a cameraman outside the embassy at all times as compared to other broadcasters, denouncing any conspiracy theories surrounding the same.
RT now has a "global scoop" which is guaranteed to make them substantial amounts from licensing the footage to media outlets across the globe, Waterson added.
British police forces have, in the past, discreetly tipped off media outlets about high-profile raids or arrests beforehand. This happened during the Cliff Richard case when the BBC arguably took it a bit too far by flying a helicopter over the singer's house.
Following the incident, the investigation came to an end and the British state-run media conglomerate was faced with an expensive lawsuit, which Richard ultimately won.