Reporters Without Borders condemns the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at cablegate.wikileaks.org, the Web site dedicated to the U.S. diplomatic cables. The organization is also concerned by some of the extreme comments made by American authorities concerning WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
Earlier this week, after the publishing of several hundred of the
250,000 cables it says it has in its possession, WikiLeaks had to move its site from its servers in Sweden to servers in the United States controlled by online retailer Amazon. Amazon quickly came under pressure to stop hosting WikiLeaks from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and its chairman, Sen. Joe Lieberman, in particular.
After being ousted from Amazon, WikiLeaks found a refuge for part of its content with the French Internet company OVH. But French digital economy minister Eric Besson Saturday said the French government was looking at ways to ban hosting of the site. WikiLeaks was also recently dropped by its domain name provider EveryDNS. Meanwhile, several countries well
known for their disregard of freedom of expression and information, including Thailand and China, have blocked access to cablegate.wikileaks.org.
This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a Web site dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a Web site should be closed.
Meanwhile, two Republican senators, John Ensign and Scott Brown, and an independent Lieberman, have introduced a bill that would make it illegal to publish the names of U.S. military and intelligence agency informants. This could facilitate future prosecutions against WikiLeaks and its founder. But a criminal investigation is already under way and many U.S. politicians are calling vociferously for Assange’s arrest.
Reporters Without Borders can only condemn this determination to hound Assange and reiterates its conviction that WikiLeaks has a right under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to publish these documents and is even playing a useful role by making them available to journalists and the greater public.
We stress that any restriction on the freedom to disseminate this body of documents will affect the entire press, which has given detailed coverage to the information made available by WikiLeaks, with five leading international newspapers actively cooperating in preparing it for publication.
Reporters Without Borders would also like to stress that it has always defended online freedom and the principle of “Net neutrality,” according to which Internet Service Providers and hosting companies should play no role in choosing the content that is placed online
*Reporters Without Borders is a Paris-based media advocacy group.