ICE blogs

December 8, 2010

Hounding of Wikileaks condemned

Reporters Without Borders, the press freedom campaigning organisation, has condemned the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at cablegate.wikileaks.org, the website dedicated to the US diplomatic cables. RWB is also concerned by some of the extreme comments made by American authorities concerning WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

After publishing several hundred of the 250,000 cables it says it has in its possession, WikiLeaks had to move its site from its servers in Sweden to servers in the United States controlled by online retailer Amazon. Amazon quickly came under pressure to stop hosting WikiLeaks from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and its chairman, Sen. Joe Lieberman, in particular.

Ousted from Amazon, WikiLeaks found a refuge for part of its content with the French internet company OVH. But French digital economy minister Eric Besson said the French government was looking at ways to ban hosting of the site. WikiLeaks was also recently dropped by its domain name provider EveryDNS. Meanwhile, several countries well known for their disregard of freedom of expression and information, including Thailand and China, have blocked access to cablegate.wikileaks.org.

Reporters Without Borders commented: ‘This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a website should be closed.’

Earlier, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the political backlash being mounted against WikiLeaks and accused the US of attacking free speech after it put pressure on the website’s host server to shut down the site.

‘It is unacceptable to try to deny people the right to know,’ said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. ‘These revelations may be embarrassing in their detail, but they also expose corruption and double-dealing in public life that is worthy of public scrutiny. The response of the United States is desperate and dangerous because it goes against fundamental principles of free speech and democracy.’

The IFJ is also concerned about the welfare and well-being of Assange (who was arrested on 7 December on sex charges and later refused bail) and Bradley Manning, the United States soldier in Iraq who is under arrest and suspected of leaking the information.

- See: http://www.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-united-states-desperate-and-dangerous-backlash-over-wikileaks

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