Friday, 1 April 2011

News Piece - Wikileaks

Since the launch of Wikileaks, there has been an explosion of classified information being opened up to the public for scrutiny and critique. Much to the dismay of governments of various countries, Wikileaks was launched on 4th October, 2006 claiming that its database had a collection of top secret articles which were not accessible for the general public. With Julian Assange as the director, Wikileaks based in Sweden, claimed to have been founded by ‘founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.’

Calling it ‘Scientific Journalism,’ Assange points out that the Wikileaks initiates an era when journalism will not necessarily need a to depend on journalists’ interpretation of news by publishing documents directly on the internet allowing them to come to their own conclusions. In April 2010, Wikileaks published footage from the 2007 Baghdad airstrike and then releasing in the same year Afghan War Diary, consisting of thousands of documents about the war. With the release of U.S. diplomacy cables in November, Wikileaks fell into great criticism and legal battle.

Wikileaks received a number of awards applauding its regeneration of the ‘freedom of speech’ of the individual as opposed to the power of a government. However, it also faced a large amount of flak, initially from the U.S. government and now from others such as India, for exposing documents which may apparently lead to a misbalance of ‘international diplomacy.’ Closer to home, the exposure of documents and videos concerning the Indian government and the prevalent corruption and ineffectiveness, has also led to the censure of the website by the Government, especially from the Congress.

Despite the presence of laws with press protections clauses, Julian Assange has been accused by the U.S. under the Espionage Act of stealing documents from the government and is also facing a criminal probe. Assange continues to fight the legal battle and at the same time, managed to raise funds for the website, with great support from the general public.

-Subhalakshmi Gooptu

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