Reporters Without Borders attacks 'irresponsible' Wikileaks

(The link in the story appears not to work – RWB’s letter can be found here: http://en.RSF.org/united-states-open-letter-to-wikileaks-founder-12-08-2010,38130.html)

Press freedom charity Reporters Without Borders has accused Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of “incredible irresponsibility” after his organisation placed more than 92,000 secret US Military documents online.

In a full-blooded attack, the charity said last night that in addition to putting lives in danger, publication of the Afghan War Logs risked future use of the internet as viable source of information.

The Wikileaks documents were given to The Guardian, New York Times and Der Speigel in advance of being made freely available online.

However, journalists from those publications have made clear that they took care to ensure that no information was published which could put lives at risk.

In an open letter to Assange, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard and its representative in Washington DC, Clothilde Le Coz, said the indiscriminate publication of 92,000 classified reports reflected “a real problem of methodology and, therefore, of credibility”.

The charity also accused Assange of “imprudence”, endangering his own sources and leaving those that risk their lives to provide information more exposed to reprisals.

The letter called on Wikileaks to provide detailed explanation of its actions and not to repeat its mistakes.

“Journalistic work involves the selection of information,” the letter stated.

“The argument with which you defend yourself, namely that Wikileaks is not made up of journalists, is not convincing.

“Wikileaks is an information outlet and, as such, is subject to the same rules of publishing responsibility as any other media.”

Assange’s had previously defended Wikileaks publication of the documents by saying his intention was to end the war in Afghanistan.

The campaigning charity rebuffed his defence, saying the US administration had been under “significant pressure” for some time over its military presence in Afghanistan.

Wikileaks publication of the Afghan War Logs had “unintentionally provided supposedly democratic governments with good grounds for putting the internet under closer surveillance”, it added.

The charity praised Wkileaks past action of making available information that “exposed serious violations of human rights and civil liberties which the Bush administration committed in the name of its war against terror”.

“But revealing the identity of hundreds of people who collaborated with the coalition in Afghanistan is highly dangerous,” the letter stated.

“It would not be hard for the Taliban and other armed groups to use these documents to draw up a list of people for targeting in deadly revenge attacks.”

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