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Tolerating Wikileaks

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21.04.2017

Wikileaks is inconvenient. Especially for organizations with a lot of power that like to do their business under the radar, away from the public eye. The US military, the US intelligence agencies, US diplomacy, US politics being just a few examples of this.

Democracy lives on this type of inconvenience because it works best when voters have as much information as possible. Democracies, democratically-legitimized governments must be able to sustain a critical look at their activities. Especially when it makes them look bad.

Read: US preparing charges against Wikileaks, reports say

Pursuing charges would set a dangerous precedent

A perfectly inconvenient example of how this works well is the video "Collateral Murder," which abruptly put Wikileaks on the map in April 2010. The video shows how 11 people in Baghdad - among them two journalists from Reuters news agency - were killed in an air strike by a US helicopter.

Or when Wikileaks made public that the NSA had been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

By pursuing charges against Wikileaks, US prosecutors would set a dangerous precedent which could open the door for the prosecution of other news organizations. This is exactly the US government's goal.

So, it's not surprising that US Attorney General Jeff Session says Julian Assange's arrest is a US priority. Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo dedicated his first public appearance to the ostensible danger of whistleblowers. He even presumed to claim that Wikileaks was a "non-governmental, foreign spy agency."

DW's Matthias von Hein

In a speech at the........

© Deutsche Welle