German newspapers in pro-WikiLeaks appeal

16th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

A group of left-leaning German newspapers published a joint appeal on Thursday against what it called the persecution of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks by governments and corporations.

"We, the initiators and undersigned, call for the persecution of WikiLeaks to stop, as this is in contravention of international law," the Frankfurter Rundschau, Tageszeitung and Tagesspiegel dailies said.

They said that it was unacceptable for the founders of WikiLeaks to be called "terrorists" in the United States, for firms like Mastercard and Visa to stop payments, or for Amazon to stop hosting the website on its servers.

"The publication (of documents by WikiLeaks) can be criticised, and with good reason ... but this is about something fundamental," the newspapers said.

"When Internet firms use their market power to impede a press organ, this is a victory of commerce over democracy. These attacks reveal a frightening understanding of what democracy means."

The appeal was also signed by the Der Freitag weekly, culture website and by pressure group the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

WikiLeaks began publishing last month some 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables from 1966 to February 2010, revealing what it calls "the contradictions between the USA's public persona and what it says behind closed doors."

Some of the revelations have hugely embarrassed Washington, with a White House spokesman describing those behind the leaks as "criminals, first and foremost" who have committed a "serious" offence.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was due to hear later Thursday if he will be freed on bail in Britain following his arrest on a Swedish warrant for questioning about alleged sex crimes.

His lawyers say the allegations are politically motivated.

© 2010 AFP

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