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2011/01: Should Wikileaks disclose classified government documents?





Introduction to the media issue

Video clip at right: useful background in a July, 2010 ABC Lateline segment, featuring Tony Jones interviewing Julian Assange. This video is in two parts. Play the top one first. (More audio and video in the Web links and documents section)
If you cannot see this clip, it will be because video is blocked by your network. To view the clip, access from home or from a public library, or from another network which allows viewing of video clips.


What they said...
'We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices'
A statement taken from the Wikileaks Internet site

'It is not in any nation's best interests for their diplomats not to be able to confidentially discuss with their country what is going on'
Colleen Graffy, a former deputy United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and former professor of law at Pepperdine University's London campus

The issue at a glance
On November 28, 2010, Wikileaks started to publish classified documents of detailed correspondence between the United States State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world. More documents were released on subsequent days.
WikiLeaks forwarded these diplomatic cables to five major newspapers around the world, which have been publishing articles by agreement with Wikileaks.
The publication of the United States embassy cables is Wikileaks third 'mega-leak' of United States classified documents in 2010. It was preceded by he Afghan War documents leak in July, and the Iraq War documents leak in October.
These releases have generated a great deal of media attention and diverse responses from commentators and governments. Most governments have expressed vehement disapproval of the leaks. The reactions of media and political commentators have been more mixed. There are those who see Wikileaks actions as a major promotion of more open government. Others suggest they are irresponsible and dangerous.
The Australian government had the Australian federal police investigate whether Wikileaks could be charged with a crime in Australia. The United States is still considering whether charges can be brought against the group. In the mean time
22 January 2010, PayPal suspended WikiLeaks' donation account and froze its assets.
On December 8, 2010 VISA suspended all payments to WikiLeaks pending an investigation of the organisation's business.