Australian Journalists Condemn Attacks on WikiLeaks

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes

a statement issued by Australia’s

senior editors and news directors on

December 13 in support of whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

 

The letter,

initiated byAustralia’s

professional journalism organisation the Walkley Foundation, the sister

organisation of IFJ affiliate the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, comes

in response to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s claims that WikiLeaks

was breaking the law by publishing a cache of 250,000 leaked US diplomatic

cables.

 

WikiLeaks spokesman

and editor-in-chief Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, prompting Gillard and

other senior ministers to suggest he may be charged under Australian law. The

Australian Government has provided no explanation as to what, if any, crimes

Assange may have committed.

 

The senior

journalists, who represent every major Australian newspaper publisher and

television network, echoed the sentiments of IFJ General Secretary Aidan White, who questioned the criticism of

WikiLeaks by politicians around the world. In a statement on December 2, he said the attacks on WikiLeaks were an

affront to free speech and the public’s right to know.

 

“Attacks on

WikiLeaks can also be seen as attacks on the Australian media outlets which have

worked with the organisation to publish leaked material,” Alliance Federal

Secretary and IFJ Asia-Pacific

steering committee member Christopher Warren said.

 

“Allegations

that the work of WikiLeaks is somehow illegal are yet to be proven in Australia,

or in any other country. The Alliance

and IFJ Asia-Pacific calls on governments

to refrain from prejudicial speculation that risks harming our democratic

system.”

 

The

statement raises concerns about the potential precedent if Assange is charged,

saying “itwould seriously curtail Australian media organisations

reporting on subjects the Government decides are against its interests”.

 

The Australian

Government’s stance on WikiLeaks also came under fire from veteran political

journalist Laurie Oakes, a Walkley Foundation advisory board member, in his

December 9 acceptance

speech of Australian journalism’s highest accolade, the Gold Walkley award.

Oakes received the award for a report based on information leaked during Australia’s

federal election.

 

The statement

from Australian journalists can be found here:

http://www.alliance.org.au/documents/101213_letter_wikiLeaks_support.pdf

 

The IFJ

statement from December 2 can be found here:

http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-united-states-desperate-and-dangerous-backlash-over-wikileaks

 

Laurie Oakes’ acceptance speech on December 9 can be

found here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOSDExVr1C4#t=2m56s

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

 

Find the IFJ

on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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