“Could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act.” — Time Magazine
For some, Julian Assange is a hero. To others he is the enemy. The United States is in the process of filing spy charges against Assange for the secret diplomatic messages WikiLeaks possesses, under the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to receive national defense information if the documents were obtained illegally and could be used “to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”
Only 1,269 diplomatic cables have been posted of the 250,000 cables/documents WikiLeaks possess, according to Glenn Greenwald o www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/index.html
The United States has never used the law to charge a recipient who has published classified information. To date, the closest thing to charges against WikiLeaks or Assange are the two counts of alleged sexual assault by two Swedish women.
According to the website, “The Local: Swedish news in English” (www.thelocal.se), Assange, a 40-year old Australian, was refused bail in London after he surrendered to police on sexual assault charges following more than a month on the run.
The alleged sexual assaults occurred at the homes of the women — one on Aug. 14 and 18, the other on Aug. 17.
WikiLeaks became of interest to the United States in July after the Afghanistan War Diary leaks and then hit mainstream media in a big way following leaked U.S. diplomatic reports on Nov. 28.
The most embarrassing and potentially threatening information coming out of the U.S. State Department are the CIA’s wish list of intelligence.
In July, the Afghanistan War Diary of 90,000 documents was released, and in late October, over 400,000 Iraq War documents were released, which the Pentagon tried to stop. This was the greatest leak in the history of the U.S. military.
WikiLeaks has a history of breaking major stories in primary media outlets. They do not reveal their sources or censor material. They have a team of scientists, journalists and humanitarians that do authenticate the merit of the submissions prior to writing releases.
The Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award is given to “honour those who have furthered the cause of freedom of expression and battled censorship around the world.” This year marks the 10th year for the Freedom of Expression Award, which was presented to WikiLeaks in 2008.
Amnesty International has been giving out Media Awards for 20 years, www.amnesty.org.uk. In 2009, the Amnesty International Human Rights Reporting Award for New Media was given to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks launched in 2007, following reports proving corruption of the Kenyan president and coups responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in Kenya.
According to the their website, “WikiLeaks has released more classified intelligence documents than the rest of the world press combined.”
Some of these documents came from the Pentagon, the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the former president of Kenya, the premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, Russian companies and others. WikiLeaks has been victorious over every legal (and illegal) attack, to date.
Although various web servers, including Amazon, have pulled WikiLeaks’ website, the information is still on the web on 1,559 international mirror sites that have different web addresses but host duplicate content. This is 300 more mirror sites than were up at the time of this writing.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling on the Pentagon Papers, released to The New York Times and other newspapers by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971. He helped uncover the U.S. secrecy and deception behind the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court ruled that “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”
The Supreme Court ruling stated that “paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.”
So will the actions of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks save more lives in the long run? Their reporting has already saved lives in Kenya and other parts of the world, including a recent release of documents from Pfizer and suspect results from a drug used by children in Africa.
One thing for certain, this will forever change the way media is gathered, stored, released and shared.
“The truth shall set you free.” — John 8:32
http://wikileaks.cybertroops.com/ (one of more than 1,500 mirror sites)
WikiLeaks Facebook fan page currently has 1,215,996 members)
WikiLeaks on Twitter (493, 462 Twitter followers)