Friday 3 December 2010

IFJ condemns US backlash against WikiLeaks

The International Federation of Journalists has condemned what it describes as the "political backlash" being mounted against WikiLeaks and accused the United States of attacking free speech after it put pressure on the website's host server to shut down the site.

IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: "It is unacceptable to try to deny people the right to know. 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 says it has has taken no position on the justification for the release of the US embassy cables but it has welcomed the decision of WikiLeaks to use respected channels of journalism including Der Spiegel, The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde and El Pais to filter the information.

"This information is being processed by serious, professional journalists who are well aware of their responsibilities both to the public and to people implicated in these revelations," said White. "It is simply untenable to allege as some people have that lives are being put at risk here. The only casualty here is the culture of secrecy that has for too long drawn a curtain around the unsavory side of public life."

The IFJ said it is also concerned about the welfare and well-being of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and Bradley Manning, the US soldier who is under arrest and suspected of leaking the information, claiming "both men are the target of a growing political campaign mounted by government officials and right-wing politicians".

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