Sustain the First Amendment: Support WikiLeaks

posted by
Filed under: First Amendment Issues

Submitted by Deborah Thomas of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting): Stand with Daniel Ellsberg, Barbara Ehrenreich, Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky and others! Sign the petition to support Wikileaks.


As journalists, activists, artists, scholars and citizens, we condemn the array of threats and attacks on the journalist organization WikiLeaks. After the website’s decision, in collaboration with several international media organizations, to publish hundreds of classified State Department diplomatic cables, many pundits, commentators and prominent U.S. politicians have called for harsh actions to be taken to shut down WikiLeaks’ operations.

Major corporations like Amazon.com, PayPal, MasterCard and Visa have acted to disrupt the group’s ability to publish. U.S. legal authorities and others have repeatedly suggested, without providing any evidence, that WikiLeaks’ posting of government secrets is a form of criminal behavior–or that at the very least, such activity should be made illegal. “To the extent there are gaps in our laws,” Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed (11/29/10), “we will move to close those gaps.”

Throughout this episode, journalists and prominent media outlets have largely refrained from defending WikiLeaks’ rights to publish material of considerable news value and obvious public interest. It appears that these media organizations are hesitant to stand up for this particular media outlet’s free speech rights because they find the supposed political motivations behind WikiLeaks’ revelations objectionable.

But the test for one’s commitment to freedom of the press is not whether one agrees with what a media outlet publishes or the manner in which it is published. WikiLeaks is certainly not beyond criticism. But the overarching consideration should be the freedom to publish in a democratic society–including the freedom to publish material that a particular government would prefer be kept secret. When government officials and media outlets declare that attacks on a particular media organization are justified, it sends an unmistakably chilling message about the rights of anyone to publish material that might rattle or offend established powers.

We hereby stand in support of the WikiLeaks media organization, and condemn the attacks on their freedom as an attack on journalistic freedoms for all.