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Newspapers appeal for Wikileaks protection

The Local · 16 Dec 2010, 08:40

Published: 16 Dec 2010 08:40 GMT+01:00

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Dailies Der Tagesspiegel, Frankfurter Rundschau, and Die Tageszeitung, along with weekly Der Freitag, online magazine Perlentaucher and the Berlin-based European Centre for Constitutional and human Rights (ECCHR) all simultaneously released the plea.

“The internet is a new form of spreading information,” it said. “It must enjoy the same protection as traditional media.”

The political and economic pressure put on Wikileaks following its publication of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables has been “inappropriate” the statement said.

While there may be good reasons to criticise the release, but taking action against the “journalistic medium” was a form of intolerable censorship, it added.

“The state is not an end in itself and must endure a confrontation with its own secrets,” it said.

Pressure by the US government for large international companies such as MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon to end their cooperation with Wikileaks reveals a “shocking understanding of democracy in which freedom of information is only valid when it doesn’t harm anyone.”

“Journalism has not only the right, but the duty to check the state and illuminate the mechanisms of government business,” the statement said, calling on businesses and governments to end their attempts to silence the site.

The Local/ka

A translation of the full statement follows.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Perlentaucher.de simultaneously publish this appeal against the attacks on Wikileaks.

1. The attacks on Wikileaks are inappropriate

The Internet publication platform Wikileaks has, since the publication of the secret U.S. embassy cables, come under great pressure. In the U.S., Wikileaks leaders were named "terrorists," with even calls for their assassination. Big international companies like MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon ended their cooperation with Wikileaks - without charges having been issued against the organization, let alone a conviction. At the same time the technical infrastructure of Wikileaks has been subject to anonymous attacks over the Internet.

These are attacks on a journalistic medium in response to its publications. One can criticize these publications with good reason. But we are against any form of censorship by government or private agencies. If Internet companies can use their market power to prevent a news organization from publishing, this would mean democracy is defeated through economic means. These attacks show a disturbing idea of democracy, where freedom of information exists only for as long as it hurts no one.

2. Freedom of publication applies to Wikileaks

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of publication is evidenced as a foundation of democratic societies. It applies not only to traditional media like newspapers or television. The Internet is a new form of information dissemination. It must enjoy the same protection as traditional media. It would cause a global outcry if the U.S. were to bring an espionage case against the New York Times, a financial crusade against Der Spiegel, or an attack on the servers of the Guardian.

3. The right to control the state

Story continues below…

The criminalization and prosecution of Wikileaks goes beyond this individual case. There are calls for the publication of confidential information in such quantities to be prevented. Indeed, the volume of documents revealed to the public a much deeper insight into state action than former publications in top media. Journalism has not only the right but the duty to control the state and to elucidate the mechanisms of governance. It creates transparency. Without transparency, there is no democracy. The state is not an end in itself, and must withstand a confrontation with his own secrets.

We, the initiators and signatories demand a stop to the persecution of Wikileaks, contrary to international law. We call on all States and all companies, to oppose the campaign against civil rights. We urge all citizens, public figures or not, in political positions or as individuals, to take action to stop the campaign against freedom of expression and freedom of information. We invite everyone to participate in the call for media freedom.

The first signatories of this appeal:

Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Perlentaucher.de

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:22 December 16, 2010 by elboertjie
Hear hear!

This reminds me of the speech about secrecy by John F. Kennedy:

10:52 December 16, 2010 by Aasvogel
How heartening to see the firm line taken by German newspapers in protecting freedom of speech and internet press freedom when there is little evidence of the same in the US and British mainstream media. Congratulations are in order; Ron Paul would agree. These questions were recently posed by him on the subject of Wikileaks:

1: Do the American People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?

2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?

3: Why is the hostility mostly directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government's failure to protect classified information?

4: Are we getting our money's worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?

5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?

7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?

9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

Thomas Jefferson had it right when he advised 'Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.'
11:10 December 16, 2010 by Landmine
Oh please... Who do these people think they are they can say the dumb ass wannabe that stole the information was free to do so. he data was unauthorized for release and was stolen by a soldier who signed agreements that he WILL NOT disclose any information to anyone unauthorized to read it or he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That alone gives the government the right to prosecute him under military law. He signed, and he broke that agreement so he is in severe violation of that agreement.

And no, state secrets are not public domain and people DO NOT have the right to read them. They are secret for a reason and any moron that thinks it is his right to read them is exactly that, a moron....
11:34 December 16, 2010 by LancashireLad
Landmine (how appropriate considering the indescriminate nature of the weapon)

Bradley Manning is not being prosecuted ... under *any* law.

He has been held without charge for 7 months in solitary. He is in conditions tantamount to torture. He is not even a prisoner of war. The US government is (again) acting illegally in holding him without charge and in the conditions in which he is currently being charged. The US government seems to think it can do what it wants and that is what Wikileaks is against. When I see your comment I can understand why.

I don't agree with everything that WikiLeaks has published, but I do agree with the site itself.
11:45 December 16, 2010 by Landmine

I think you have a naive view of the issue. Information like what was leaked is secret f a reason. And if you handle this type of information, you sign that you will not diclose it to any unauthorized person or you will be prosecuted. He may not be charged with anything yet, but the full extent of what he leaked is not yet fully assesed. Hence, why he is held. He did it, we all know it so he is being held until they figure out what they want to do - simple and that is how it works.

I bet you would feel differently if Wikileaks published all your personal info about you and all your dirty laundry (if you have any that is)... The public has no right to know information that is classified by the government. Assuming you are not American, I am sure your gov has the same rules.
12:14 December 16, 2010 by LancashireLad
Please thnk about what the US government is doing as a reaction to Wikileaks.

They are illegally forcing legitimate businesses to sever links with Wikileaks. The US goverment has no right to demand this of independant businesses.

That Bradley Manning broke US Military Law cannot be denied, but he is being held in illegal conditions - more illegal actions from the US government. You will also note that this article deals with the Wikileaks site, not with Bradley Manning.

The crux of the matter of what the newspapers etc. are saying is that the US government have acted illegally in their reaction to Wikileaks.

To return to the issue of Bradley Manning, you have to ask yourself why he did it. Money was very probably a factor but I doubt the only one. What did he see that made him think "the world must know about this"?.
13:31 December 16, 2010 by ron1amr
Its great the media want information open to the public. Whether you live in America ,U.K or Australia. Its not a democratic society more like a dictatorship just not made obvious. You know when Governments hide the truth and change their wording to justify actions. Wikileaks just confirms what most people already know. Like when you read news articles and you hear what the politicians have to say. You think that doesn't sound right. You piece everything together and suspect the reason of the Governments actions. Then wikileaks comes along reveals the truth and you think yes I knew that its common sense. Governments have an agenda wikileaks reveals this agenda.
14:43 December 16, 2010 by marimay

Maybe one day you will be fortunate enough to think clearly, and for yourself.
17:59 December 16, 2010 by Landmine

How old are you? Your msg certainly sounds naiive. Most Europeans seem to think this way. Play nice and no one will hurt you. There should be no secrets or dirty play or thought. That won't get you far....

My god, liberals will be the death of the Western world as we know it....
00:13 December 17, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The writer who calls himself "Landmine" is the epitome of American ignorance, hubris and lawlessness. As an American, and more specifically as an American attorney, his comments are particularly repugnant to me. In fact, they make me want to vomit.

I stand in solidarity with WikiLeaks, and I wholeheartedly agree with the thrust of this article.
00:45 December 17, 2010 by cobalisk
'My god, liberals will be the death of the Western world as we know it...'

Because 'Liberals' will execute people? Most liberals are opposed to executions, or unlawful internment, or arrests without charges. Seems rather life affirming if you think about.

When the only card you have to play is fear, you are holding a losing hand.
00:58 December 17, 2010 by Prufrock2010

What would you expect from an ignorant American GI? He joined the military to go kill people. That's how he gets his jollies. He certainly wasn't recruited for his brain power.
08:51 December 17, 2010 by catjones
Prufrock2010...clairvoyant? You seem to know what people were thinking, are thinking and will think.
09:09 December 17, 2010 by Landmine
Yeah, Prufrock2010 seems to know more than all of us -except how to hold his vomit.

Figureshe stands in Solidarity with Wikileaks...Typical lawyer, thinks he knows everything.... A little info for you to McFly -I'm not a GI. Helloooooo!!!!!!!

God save me from you ever representing me in court....
12:53 December 17, 2010 by bartschaff
Landmine... please stop regurgitating your right-wing fallacies and empty talk. It would also be nice if you'd stop calling 'naive' everyone who doesn't agree with you.

For starters, your analogy is flawed: private secrets are not equivalent to state ones; even if they were, people who violate the law also loose some of their privacy.

And insisting on the private's contract breaking as being a big deal while the whole point is the infinitely more serious illegal acts by the US is plain ridiculous.

But you're right when you say "Play nice and no one will hurt you. [...] That won't get you far...". That's why we should not play nice and let it for the US media to open the eyes of the American population, or why we shouldn't trust UN to oppose US' illegal actions, illegal wars, and war crimes: and finally, that's why people have to take action, and wikileaks is just doing it's part.

And the climax: "My god, liberals will be the death of the Western world as we know it..."

That's nothing short of incredible. How can someone say something so stupid? In case you really don't know: it's the existence of liberals what makes the "Western World" different (and, IMHO, better) to live in than, let's say, China.
16:38 December 17, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Landmine --

Not to worry. I would never represent someone of your persuasion in court or anywhere else. Even lawyers have standards.

Your conflation of leaking government memos relating to various wars (information the public is entitled to have) with leaking information that invades a person's privacy (information the public is NOT entitled to have) is ridiculously moronic. That's why I might be forgiven for inferring that you're an American GI, as it fits the profile. Maybe you're just a mercenary.
17:55 December 17, 2010 by Landmine
Ya know, all of you here writing back your words of wisdom to me can bite me!

You all have no clue what it takes to be Americans....But you all do have to know all the secrets like nosey little busy bodies don't you. Then you can sit and judge right or wrong huh? After all, you all feel it is your god given rights rigfht to know and judge isn,t it?

Let me tell you all something, the US government does a lot for all of you whinny little ungrateful citizens that you will never -ever know about. But when you question and demand things you have no right for that are provided for your protection so you can pursue the all mighty right to "question" authority then that is where you are fools....

So go get a subscription to People magazine and stop thinking you all think you know what is best for our country!
19:16 December 17, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Landmine --

If you're one of the Americans "protecting" me from your little military nest in Stuttgart, I don't want your protection. If you represent the thinking of the US government, then my sympathies are with the other side.

P.S. Germany is not "your" country. It is a host country. Perhaps you should be more respectful of your host.
23:14 December 17, 2010 by Landmine
Don't go crying when little sad Prufrock is in an orange jumpsuit begging for his little life...

Maybe your preaching of the law might save your sorry little butt. though I have a sneaking suspicion you have not seen a courtroom in years...Personally, I wouldn't loose any sleep over your loss.

And you call yourself a veteran - the military and our country is better off with the likes of you...
01:03 December 18, 2010 by Prufrock2010
What is this thread about again? Oh, yeah. Freedom of the press. Our friend Landmine, an apparent employee of the US government, doesn't seem to believe in it. He doesn't think people have the right to question authority. He doesn't believe that documents that expose the lies that lead to needless wars deserve to be exposed to the public, in whose interests those wars are ostensibly being fought. He thinks that those who criticize war crimes are unpatriotic. He thinks that a government can never be questioned.

Dear readers, I can only assure you that this is not the position of the majority of Americans. It is the position of a minority who are easily brainwashed in a country that celebrates ignorance and glorifies power over all things. Unfortunately the American military establishment is equipped with an all-volunteer force made up by significant numbers of high school dropouts who are easily brainwashed into believing -- really believing -- that they are on a noble mission. They are not. And the most recent polls in America reveal that more than 60% of the population is opposed to this war in Afghanistan, which they believe cannot be won. That is very disturbing news to blockheads like Mr. Landmine here, because it turns his entire belief system on its head. If I'm fighting for a lost cause to support a corrupt regime, is it really worth it? Why am I there? So one can understand his anger, his frustration and his jingoistic rhetoric, however illiterately stated. What one cannot understand is how such a person could argue against the First Amendment which is the cornerstone of the American Bill of Rights in an attempt to suppress the truth.

I support the work of WikiLeaks. Turn me in to Homeland Security, Mr. Landmine. And by all means, don't step on one of your namesakes in your misguided defense of what you think you're defending.
07:46 December 18, 2010 by Landmine
yeah yeah yeah Prufrock, now preaching on here to anyone who wants to listen fishing for a bone....

Typical lawyer....
10:05 December 18, 2010 by Prufrock2010
A brilliant rejoinder, Landmine. Now tell me precisely where I'm wrong.
11:09 December 18, 2010 by Landmine
You are entitles to your opinion. I'm just having fun reading how much effort you are putting on this argument -cracks me up I get such a charge out of you from a simple matter of opinion....

Thanks for the entertainmenet lol.....
11:18 December 18, 2010 by marimay
Should change your name to teapartytroll then.
12:04 December 18, 2010 by Landmine
he he -just might....
19:46 December 18, 2010 by neil alan
I have a problem with the idea that a lowly 22 yr old private could have provided all those documents. I look at it who has something really to gain and who could lose by the release. The biggest loser is Hillary Clinton. She can no longer be a viable presidential candidate in the next US election. That means that Obama had lots to gain by the release. His most likely candidate is out of the race. In addition it gives him the reason to classify all his administration dealings and prevents another Watergate type issue. He has so carefully hidden all his personal records and now would want to hide all his administration records which in a democracy should be illegal. Does he want to eliminate all democratic controls of what he does???
22:40 December 18, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Wow, another conspiracy theory about Obama's quest to take over the world. No matter that the vast majority of the leaked documents relate to events prior to Obama's presidency. But what the hell. There are some people for whom everything is a conspiracy. Now tell us that Obama was responsible for 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.
08:39 December 19, 2010 by marimay
And how the economy was great before he came into office! lol
21:53 December 20, 2010 by Landmine
ohh oh... Prufrock2010 found a new victim to spar with....
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