2010-12-09 UN, international officials in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern at a press conference today over political pressure aiming to discourage provision of hosting and other services to WikiLeaks.

Ms Pillay said: "I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to Wikileaks, as well as to stop hosting the website."

"This can be interpreted as at attempt to censor the publication of information, and potentially constitutes a violation of WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression," she said, according to Le Monde.

The UN rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, said in an interview with ABC.net.au that he did not think the US government had grounds to charge Julian Assange or request his extradition. "If there is a responsibility by leaking information it is of, exclusively of the person that made the leak and not of the media that publish it," he said. When asked whether he agreed that Assange is "a martyr for free speech," he said "It certainly is (true)."

Mr La Rue said that "in reference to what has been published in WikiLeaks I think there is no criminal responsibility for being the medium." He noted that there are cases that have to be looked at, but "having said that just the fact that the information is embarrassing information to a government does not make it subject to be blocked or filtered or reprisals to the director/founder of the service." He added: "I have made it clear that just the fact that the information is leaked should not be the excuse to pressure any of the enterprises that are serving that information."

(Read the full interview.)

Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday expressed solidarity with Julian Assange, criticising his arrest as a blow against freedom of expression, reports AFP. "Assange has 'exposed a diplomacy that had appeared unreachable,' said Lula, who criticised of a failure of other governments to challenge Assange's detention. 'They have arrested him and I don't hear so much as a single protest for freedom of expression,' he said."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, also on Thursday, that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange showed the West was hypocritical in its criticism of Russia's record on democracy, reports Reuters.

According to a report by The Guardian, Kremlin officials are urging NGOs to nominate Julian Assange for the Nobel Prize: "'Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him,' the source from inside president Dmitry Medvedev's office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit yesterday , the source went on: 'Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate.'"

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