Reporters Without Borders will begin tomorrow to host a mirror website for the US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks. Its address will be wikileaks.rsf.org.
“This is a gesture of support for WikiLeaks’ right to publish information without being obstructed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We defend the free flow of information on the Internet and the protection of sources, without which investigative journalism cannot exist.”
By publishing the US diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks made a large amount of hitherto unpublished material available to five leading international newspapers and the general public. The harassment and attempts to close WikiLeaks represent an attack on the “democracy watchdog” role to which article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights refers.
The European Court of Human Rights has on several occasions stressed that this role entails the protection of sources and the absence of government measures designed to silence these sources.
As is often the case with investigative journalism, laws were broken to obtain the documents that were passed to WikiLeaks, and which WikiLeaks has made available to leading news media. In theory, this means that WikiLeaks, and the media that have been cooperating with it, could be regarded as accomplices.
But Reporters Without Borders points out that the European Court on Human Rights has ruled that the notion of “complicity” does not apply when it can it be said – as it can in this case – that the release of such documents serves the general interest and the public right’s to be informed.
Reporters Without Borders is hosting a WikiLeaks mirror site in the name of the free flow of news and information. We are doing this solely as part of the partnership that WikiLeaks has established with news media. This partnership will be constantly reassessed in the light of WikiLeaks’ activities and the content it offers in the future.