Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

WikiLeaks: Yes, We Need Information | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, angrily pulled off his microphone and walked out of a television interview. Assange lost his cool when CNN report Atika Shubert asked him whether the charges issued against him in Sweden will affect his position and future as the face of the most famous website on the internet.

Assange’s anger may be understood in the context that his critics are trying to counter the shocking information published by his website by orchestrating a smear campaign against him and personally discrediting him. This is an attempt – by Assange’s critics – to destroy his credibility, instead of investigating the information published by WikiLeaks and dealing with the repercussions of this.

There can be no doubt that WikiLeaks has revealed important and dangerous secrets about the war in Afghanistan and this week it has also revealed traumatic information about the war in Iraq, including the extent that some Iraqi officials have been embroiled in this, the Iraqi and US involvement in torture and murder, or their concealment of this. The attack that Assange is facing [on his person] starts from the Pentagon and stretches across several political and security circles, inside and outside of the US. This campaign aims to tarnish his reputation and limit the damage caused by the publication of the documents in Assange’s possession.

The incident in which Assange walked out of a television interview shows how sensitive he is to media criticism and the strong attack that he has been subject to since he first established WikiLeaks and published secret military documents. Assange’s state of mind is justified; it is extremely difficult for any individual to maintain their balance when confronting a group of superpowers and major regimes. Needless to say, the Pentagon’s campaign against Assange is ongoing, and in fact the Pentagon will try to prosecute Assenge in the event of US troops being subject to violence as a direct result of the information published by his website. Even Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Assange for publishing the names of Afghans who had collaborated with US forces, arguing that this has placed their lives in danger. In addition to this, a number of WikiLeaks staff who resigned recently have spoken about Assange’s overbearing attitude, and the fact that he did not confer with others with regards to posting the latest documents on the Iraq war.

However to return to the information published by WikiLeaks, particularly the documents on the Iraq war, there can be no doubt that information is a source of strength and the cornerstone for all kinds of freedom. Perhaps this is what prompted the European Court of Human Rights to state that freedom of expression includes the freedom to reveal shocking and disturbing information. However those disturbed by this information will continue their attempt to curb these leaks.

Therefore what we must ask ourselves here is; should we truly be concerned about Assange? Everybody is trying to understand who this mysterious and hot-tempered man is; a man who has founded the most dangerous website in the world.

Perhaps we should keep track of the ongoing controversy in the West today surrounding the enigmatic personality of Assange. However we should not allow this to take place at the expense of the atrocities disclosed by WikiLeaks, which morally compel us to call the people responsible for this to account. Now that we have this information, it would be completely reprehensible not to bring those responsible for such crimes to justice.