2010-12-17 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 13

Reporters Without Borders: Open letter to President Obama and General Attorney Holder regarding possible criminal prosecution against Julian Assange

Dear President Obama and Attorney General Holder,

Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, would like to share with you its concern about reports that the Department of Justice is preparing a possible criminal prosecution against Julian Assange and other people who work at WikiLeaks.

We regard the publication of classified information by WikiLeaks and five associated newspapers as a journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Prosecuting WikiLeaks’ founders and other people linked to the website would seriously damage media freedom in the United States and impede the work of journalists who cover sensitive subjects.

It would also weaken the US and the international community efforts at protecting human rights, providing governments with poor press freedom records a ready-made excuse to justify censorship and retributive judicial campaigns against civil society and the media.

We believe the United States credibility as a leading proponent of freedom of expression is at stake, and that any arbitrary prosecution of WikiLeaks for receiving and publishing sensitive documents would inevitably create a dangerous precedent.

Members of the faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism wrote to you recently warning that “government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.” We fully agree with this analysis.

The ability to publish confidential documents is a necessary safeguard against government over-classification. We urge you to use this debate to review the government’s policy of classifying documents in order to increase transparency in accordance with the promises made by the administration when it first assumed office.

We thank you both in advance for the attention you give to our observations.

Sincerely,

Jean-François Julliard Secretary-General

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uruknet.info: Why we stand with WikiLeaks

“In reality, the prosecution of Assange is part of a government war on dissent that comes in the context of raids and subpoenas of left-wing and antiwar activists in Chicago and the Twin Cities seeking to criminalize support for, among other things, the growing movement for justice for the Palestinian people.

They want to chill our right to dissent. If we are to prevent that, we must stand in defense of the right of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks to expose the crimes committed by the U.S.”

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Huffington Post:Why I Am Donating $50,000 to WikiLeaks’ Defense Fund

“I’m sick and tired of the politicians and political pundits treating this man as if he were a criminal. If WikiLeaks had existed in 2003 when George W. Bush was ginning up the war in Iraq, America might not be in the horrendous situation it is today, with our troops fighting in three countries (counting Pakistan) and the consequent cost in blood and dollars.”

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