December 08, 2010

Wikileaks update: shooting the messenger...

It's getting very scary now just how many institutions are lining up against Wikileaks.  Paypal have cancelled Assange's account, VISA has stopped processing payments to the Wikileaks site, the Swiss have frozen a bank account and a UK court has remanded in custody possibly the most recognisable face on the planet and a man with no access to bank accounts, in case he absconds!  So it's a timely intervention from the Australian foreign minister pointing out that the responsibility for the leaks lies with those doing the leaking, not Assange.

Hmm, I was just looking for a couple of links to back up the stuff about the banks putting pressure on Assange but it's even worse.  I stumbled on this Telegraph piece where the writer, Milo Yiannopoulos, insists that Assange has "alienated the government, big business and, increasingly, the public". The public? I was just in company with some guys at a minicab office. Not pinko liberals or lefties. They all thought
Assange was somewhere between courageous and mad but they didn't disapprove of him. So the right wing media, ie, most of the media are against him too but I don't think we count the public count among his enemies just yet. 

But where was I? Ah yes, credit or blame where it is due.  Here's the Guardian:
Australia's foreign minister said the US government and whoever originally leaked 250,000 diplomatic cables should bear the responsibility for any security breaches – not the Australian WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
Kevin Rudd said legal liability rested with the initial leakers and Assange should be protected from threats to his safety as the US stepped up pressure on companies and organisations with ties to WikiLeaks.
His comments came after the Sydney Morning Herald published leaked cables in which US diplomats described Rudd, then Australia's prime minister, as a mistake-prone control freak with a tendency towards making "snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government". Rudd dismissed the criticism, saying that it was "like water off a duck's back".
Assange, who was arrested in London yesterday, faces extradition to Sweden for alleged sexual assaults, but Rudd took the offensive against the US over the leaks. "Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network," Rudd told Reuters.
"The Americans are responsible for that. I think there are real questions to be asked about the adequacy of their security systems and the level of access that people have had to that material over a long period of time.".
"The core responsibility, and therefore legal liability, goes to those individuals responsible for that initial unauthorised release," he said......
And he went beyond stating the obvious to offering protection to Assange:
Rudd said today that Australia would provide Assange with consular assistance after a request by him to the country's high commission in London. "That is the proper thing to do for any Australian citizen," he said.
Though his boss, 
Julia Gillard, who toppled Rudd in June, yesterday called WikiLeaks actions "grossly irresponsible" but said publication would not have been possible "if there had not been an illegal act undertaken" in the US. However, she made clear Australian authorities were still investigating whether Assange had broken any Australian laws.
So the Australian foreign minister puts blame where it lies and the Australian prime minister joins the ranks of those shooting the messenger.  I have to say here that any journalist who condemns wikileaks or any leaks is no journalist at all.


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