Thursday 23 December 2010

Quotes of the Year: WikiLeaks and Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange interviewed in the Guardian: "I think it's an international disgrace that so few western journalists have been killed in the course of duty, or have been arrested in the course of duty. How many journalists were arrested last year in the United States, a country of 300 million people? How many journalists were arrested in the UK last year?"

Assange, speaking via Skype from a secret location, during a Frontline Club debate:
"There's a new type of refugee in the world and they are publishers."

New York Times
executive editor Bill Keller:
"In their raw form, we believe the documents could put lives at risk — especially Afghans who are identified as having cooperated with the NATO force, but also Americans and NATO allies, by providing information about tactics and intelligence-gathering. That is why we took great pains to eliminate such references from our coverage."

Telegraph deputy blogs editor Will Heaven: "The information leaked from Afghanistan is undoubtedly sensitive, but if Wikileaks had been true to its principles, it should have been up to an online audience (of casual readers and experts) to decide its value, not the editors of three Left-wing newspapers. Sadly, those principles have been ditched."

David Leigh in the Guardian on the Afhan War Logs: "Some media organisations, who had not got the story themselves, then joined in. One disappointed paper deliberately provided the Taliban with a to-do list: it drew their attention to specific Wikileaks documents they might inspect in order to take reprisals. The low point was perhaps reached by Channel 4 News, which respectfully quoted a 'spokesman' for the bearded murderers, as he uttered promises of revenge on alleged informants. It felt like PR for the Taliban."

The Times in a leader: "Whoever leaked the US embassy cables is 'an unparalleled hero', Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, said last week. That is an odd use of a term that usually implies exceptional courage, in a noble cause, not the bravado of an anonymous leaker whose positive purpose remains unclear. This latest cable reads like a cable too far.Whether or not these installations are all genuinely vital to US security, publishing them is an open invitation to mischief — if not murder."

Stephen Glover in The Independent: "Why doesn't Wikileaks make its material available to all media outlets at the same time? It is almost as though a kind of censorship is going on."

Kelvin MacKenzie in the Sun: "The Guardian can't cut down enough trees to report life-threatening state secrets gained by illegal computer hacking. And yet almost harmless phone hacking -simply revealing leg-overs - gets them in a terrific huff. Hypocrisy or stupidity? You decide."

Marc Thiessen in the Washington Post calls for action to be taken against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks: "Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information. This should be done, ideally, through international law enforcement cooperation. But if such cooperation is not forthcoming, the United States can and should act alone."

The Committee to Protect Journalists in a letter to President Obama: "In the past, we have been proud to point to the United States as a place where journalists may not be jailed because they published something that offends government officials. It would be an incalculable loss to freedom everywhere if America lost its role as a shining example, and authoritarian governments abroad could say they were only doing what the United States was doing in jailing reporters or editors for what they published. CPJ urges the Justice Department to protect freedom of speech and the press, along with the country's global reputation as a beacon of those values, by standing back from any prosecution of WikiLeaks or Assange for publishing classified documents."

Julian Assange after being freed on bail by the High Court: "It's great to smell the fresh air of London again. Thanks to all the people around the world who've had faith in me."

Previously: Paywalls, Rusbridger and Murdoch; The General Election; The Regional Press.

Tomorrow: Phone-hacking.

Pic: Jon Slattery

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