Julian Assange is currently living in Britain under the roof of one Vaughan Smith, a man who believes in a free press.
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Veteran BBC correspondent Loyn, who has known Smith for almost 20 years and worked with him in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, said Assange and Smith met “relatively recently” when Assange used the club as his London base.
The BBC correspondent says Smith is “intrigued by Julian and his work” and outraged by the way Assange has been treated.
“Vaughan has an old-fashioned sense of libertarian values. He supports Julian’s commitment and courage, even though he doesn’t necessarily support all the leaks, and wanted to help,” said Loyn. “Vaughan is an idealistic man who established the Frontline Club because he strongly believed in it—despite the huge financial risk.”
During his days as a cameraman, the risks were even greater. Smith was shot twice, leading him to joke he had “been shot more times than he had been credited by the BBC.”
He filmed the only uncontrolled footage of the Gulf War in 1991 after he bluffed his way into an active service unit disguised as a British Army officer.
On their dangerous trips together, the BBC veteran remembers Smith as “tough, very resilient and single-minded” as they trekked though Afghanistan living on boiled lentils cooked by Loyn.
But there was more to Smith than just his physical toughness. He was one of the first cameramen to edit his work on a laptop in the field before transmitting it back home. Loyn explains: “He had cutting-edge skills and always like to push the boundaries.”
It is that same ferocious determination in Assange to push the boundaries which Smith so admires and why he finds the “professorial” WikiLeaks’ founder “fascinating” company, according to Smith’s friends.