Journalism advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders launched a Wikileaks mirror site today in one of the boldest moves in defense of Wikileaks I’ve seen by a media organization since the cables were originally released. The site was live when I checked it Tuesday evening.
Their support “will be constantly reassessed in the light of WikiLeaks’ activities and the content it offers in the future” –but the mirror site is a good start.
Let’s hope RWB don’t do any business with Amazon, Bank of America, Apple or Paypal — who all dropped Wikileaks in one form or another over the past month…for various reasons…like um…pressure from U.S. politicians and the Justice Department.
The State Department was scrambling to contact foreign governments leading up to the leak and with good reason. A lot of the stuff was embarrassing for the U.S.
Reporters Without Borders said they’re hosting the mirror site in the name of free flow of information. They argue the release of the information serves the general interest and the public right’s to be informed.
Not to mention, the cables reveal some pretty juicy stuff -like how that one time, that one guy SLAPPED Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They’re almost like reading love letters you weren’t supposed to see.
It’s pretty interesting because while the New York Times defends their right to publish stories using the cables, I haven’t seen anything about them defending Wikileaks…
From the Reporters Without Borders statement about the site:
As is often the case with investigative journalism, laws were broken to obtain the documents that were passed to WikiLeaks, and which WikiLeaks has made available to leading news media. In theory, this means that WikiLeaks, and the media that have been cooperating with it, could be regarded as accomplices.
Damn straight some laws were probably broken. But sounds like the government needs to check their own housekeeping rather than going after Julian Assange and Wikileaks so hard. I mean, these cables didn’t leak themselves.
Last week, the Columbia School of Journalism sent a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder urging restraint in their interest bringing criminal charges against Julian Assange.
“…while we hold varying opinions of Wikileaks’ methods and decisions, we all believe that in publishing diplomatic cables Wikileaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Any prosecution of Wikileaks’ staff for receiving, possessing or publishing classified materials will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in any publication or medium, potentially chilling investigative journalism and other First Amendment-protected activity.
As a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.”
“The U.S. and the First Amendment continue to set a world standard for freedom of the press, encouraging journalists in many nations to take significant risks on behalf of transparency. Prosecution in the Wikileaks case would greatly damage American standing in free-press debates worldwide and would dishearten those journalists looking to this nation for inspiration.”
Among journalists, opinions of Assange are scattered. Regardless, it’s time to speak up or watch an interesting precedent get set if the Justice Department gets their hands on Julian Assange. Good on Reporters Without Borders on taking that step.