2010-12-13 PEN International statement on WikiLeaks


PEN International, a global writers' organization with special consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations, has released an official statement on WikiLeaks:

"PEN International champions the essential role played by freedom of expression in healthy societies and the rights of citizens to transparency, information and knowledge.

The Wikileaks issue marks a significant turning point in the evolution of the media and the sometimes conflicting principles of freedom of expression and privacy and security concerns. The culture of increasing secrecy in governments and the rise of new technology will inevitably lead to an increasing number of transparency issues of this sort. PEN International believes it is important to acknowledge that while the leaking of government documents is a crime under U.S laws, the publication of documents by Wikileaks is not a crime. Wikileaks is doing what the media has historically done, the only difference being that the documents have not been edited.

PEN International urges those voicing opinions regarding the Wikileaks debate to adopt a responsible tone, and not to play to the more extreme sections of society. In a world where journalists are regularly physically attacked, imprisoned and killed with impunity, calling for the death of a journalist is irresponsible and deplorable.

PEN International is also concerned by reports that some web sites, fearing repercussions, have stopped carrying Wikileaks, and that individuals, under threat of legal action, have been warned against reading information provided by the organization. PEN International condemns such acts and calls upon corporations and states to avoid breaches of the right to free expression. Governments cannot call for unlimited internet freedom in other parts of the world if they do not respect this freedom themselves.

The Wikileaks matter is a dynamic issue which we shall continue to monitor closely and on which we will refine our position as the situation requires. We welcome this debate and look forward to further discussion with the worldwide PEN membership."

(WL Central note: The statement that "the documents have not been edited" is incorrect. All Cablegate documents published by WikiLeaks on its website have been redacted by the media partners. Please see this report by the Associated Press on the redaction process. Please also see our report on the redaction of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs.)

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