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Sun Aug 5, 2012, 03:51 PM

How Wikileaks lost the support of the free speech advocate Index on Censorship

DOHA: Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.

“These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.

The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA.

Assange or Mansour, however, didn’t disclose the names of these officials. The WikiLeaks founder said he feared he could be killed but added that there were 2,000 websites that were ready to publish the remaining files that are in possession of WikiLeaks after “he has been done away with” ...

Many Arab officials have close CIA links: Assange
Thursday, 30 December 2010 03:10

... The embassy attache was adamant. It was only a matter of time before a human rights defender was exposed by WikiLeaks, and jailed or killed as a result. “Then in that case,” he said grimly, “you may ask Mr Assange exactly what he thinks he has done for ‘transparency and human rights’”.

Weirdly, almost on cue, Wikileaks released a cable that might have proven his point, in which the name of the source — a public critic of a particularly reprehensible head of state — was redacted by WikiLeaks. However the redactor, presumably unfamiliar with the dissident’s work, failed to recognise a giveaway clue cited in the cable’s title ...

Redaction of data was never meant to be WikiLeaks’ prime duty, so it should be no surprise that they do it unwillingly, and when they do, that they can do it badly or obscurely. Index on Censorship raised the issue of the giveaway clue in the title of the otherwise redacted leaked cable with WikiLeaks directly.

They replied sympathetically, but noted that the redacted name was already out there as author of a critical book about the head of state. “…(S)o we feel that too much redaction is futile,” said the reply. “However, we do feel it is better to be safe than sorry and so have redacted the title …” ...

31 Dec 2010

... Index’s association with Assange goes back some time ... We were pleased to host him in a debate in London last September, but his combative demeanour that evening was a surprise ... Two of Index’s trustees are Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens and his agent, Caroline Michel ...

It has often felt like treading on egg shells. We were asked in December to channel Assange’s defence fund through our bank account. Our chairman, the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, and I thought it inappropriate for a charity to become involved in the personal allegations against Assange. So we declined.

When urged at the start of January by Assange’s publisher to help him write his memoirs I said I was ready to assist, but only if I had strong editorial input and that no subject was off-limits. This, I was told, was not acceptable. Roughly at the same time our organisation started asking questions about Israel Shamir, a man accused of Holocaust denial and of being a close associate of Belarus’s autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko. Index is one of the founders of the Belarus Committee. Despite repeated but polite requests to WikiLeaks, our team was stonewalled, so we went public with our concerns.

Assange’s reported conspiracy remarks to Private Eye magazine about me and senior figures in the Guardian do not help his cause. With so many genuine adversaries, why seek more? His approach has reinforced a view that whistleblowing is the preserve of irresponsible eccentrics ...

03 Mar11 – 10:07 am
by John Kampfner

It has been reported that an “accredited” journalist for Wikileaks, Israel Shamir, met with Uladzimri Makei, the Head of the Presidential administration in Belarus. Subsequently, it was reported in the Belarus Telegraf that a state newspaper would be publishing documents about the Belarusian opposition.

Wikileaks has always maintained it takes care to ensure that names of political activists are redacted from cables before publication on its website. Index on Censorship is concerned that some of the Wikileaks cables relating to Belarus that have not appeared on the main Wikileaks website are now in the public domain.

There are various “commercial crimes” in Belarus that make it a criminal offence to run an unregistered organisation. In turn, many NGOs are prohibited from registering their organisations. This places a lot of civil society in Belarus in a legal grey area which can mean political activists, who cannot register, are placed in breach of the law for accepting foreign funding. It is rumoured in Belarus that many of the Wikileaks cables outline foreign support for opposition groups. Our worry is that this information could be used to prosecute some of the political prisoners currently held by the KGB.

In the immediate aftermath of the discredited Belarusian elections, Index on Censorship made repeated attempts to contact Wikileaks in order for them to clarify its relationship with Shamir ...

05 Feb 2011

Index on Censorship regrets the publication of over 250,000 unredacted US embassy cables by whistleblower site Wikileaks.

While Index supports the principle behind whistleblower initiatives such as Wikileaks, we have consistently expressed concern over the need for careful redaction in order to protect activists and dissidents living under authoritarian regimes. Early this year Index expressed its concern to Wikileaks over reports that unredacted documents had been made available to the Belarusian dictatorship.

Index on Censorship Chief executive John Kampfner commented: “Sites such as Wikileaks will continue to emerge, and will have an important role to play. But they should be operated with a great duty of care, both to whistleblowers and to individuals who may find themselves in danger after irresponsible leaks of diplomatic, intelligence or other material.

“Among the responsibilities of journalism are protection of sources and the avoidance of reckless endangerment of innocent people. These same responsibilities should be adopted by whistleblower sites.”

02 Sep 2011

An Ethiopian reporter cited by name in US diplomatic cables disclosed last month by WikiLeaks has been forced to flee the country after police interrogated him over the identity of an unnamed government source in the cable. On 5 and 6 September, officials from Ethiopia’s Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) summoned journalist Argaw Ashine to their offices in Addis Ababa with his press accreditation. Local journalists said the reporter was cited in an 26 October 26 2009 cable from the US embassy in Ethiopia regarding purported GCAO plans in 2009 to silence the now-defunct Addis Neger, then the country’s leading independent newspaper.

15 Sep 2011

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Reply How Wikileaks lost the support of the free speech advocate Index on Censorship (Original post)
struggle4progress Aug 2012 OP
leveymg Aug 2012 #1
struggle4progress Aug 2012 #2
leveymg Aug 2012 #3

Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 04:05 PM

1. Are there any trustworthy free speech and human rights orgs left?

So many of them seem to be carrying water for the Department of State and various intelligence services these days. Hard to tell who's who and what causes they really serve these days.

Assange and his critics are cases in point.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #1)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 05:39 PM

2. I see no point to your accusation that the Index is carrying water for the State Department or for

some intelligence service: the magazine has been published in the UK for 40 years now, and if you suspect they are biased in their coverage of Assange and Wikileaks, you can check out the hundreds of pages on their website devoted to the man (Assange) and the organization (Wikileaks), which have been written by many different free speech activists wirth differing points of view

The problem, in the end, is perhaps Assange's megalomania: Wikileaks always said it never verified the factuality of its releases, since its first concern was the absolute anonymity of the leakers -- but then Assange goes forth and acts as if his releases were verified authentic facts, and he makes careless accusations against people accordingly, as shown (for example) in his Al Jazeera interview. Deciding whether a confidential document might really be authentic, and what it might actually mean if it is, and what conclusions will be drawn about which persons by leaking it, are really tasks for persons with some specific knowledge of the time and place: one simply cannot be an expert on everything, no matter how smart one might be, and the bottom line is that it can endanger all sorts of innocent people if one proceeds with the reckless disregard Assange and Wikileaks exhibit

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #2)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 05:44 PM

3. I know enough to question all of them, even Assange.

Most have no idea about the provenance and the purpose of the information that gets leaked to them, just as most major human rights organizations are filled with wannabe career diplomats and quite a few real spooks of all stripes. The rules about NOC are situational, as are the rest of the rules.

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