Friday, January 7, 2011

Columbia Journalism Faculty, Australian Editors Oppose Prosecution Of WikiLeaks, Assange

Twenty faculty members of the Columbia Journalism School wrote and signed a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Holder condemning any legal action against WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange (left) for publishing confidential diplomatic cables:

...while we hold varying opinions of Wikileaks' methods and decisions, we all believe that in publishing diplomatic cables Wikileaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Any prosecution of Wikileaks' staff for receiving, possessing or publishing classified materials will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in any publication or medium, potentially chilling investigative journalism and other First Amendment-protected activity.

...The U.S. and the First Amendment continue to set a world standard for freedom of the press, encouraging journalists in many nations to take significant risks on behalf of transparency. Prosecution in the Wikileaks case would greatly damage American standing in free-press debates worldwide and would dishearten those journalists looking to this nation for inspiration.

In Assange's native Australia, newspaper editors and other media figures signed a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard opposing prosecution in Australia or the U.S.:

...WikiLeaks, an organisation that aims to expose official secrets, is doing what the media have always done: bringing to light material that governments would prefer to keep secret.

...To prosecute a media organisation for publishing a leak would be unprecedented in the US, breaching the First Amendment protecting a free press. In Australia, it would seriously curtail Australian media organisations reporting on subjects the government decides are against its interests.

No comments: