(N.B. Podcast of findings and comments at end of article)
Wikileaks highlights a significant conflict between public interest and confidential information.
Many of the documents Wikileaks has publicised over the past four years, have caused embarrassment to the US government.
Some of the issues exposed are important for the public to know, such as the cables relating to the conduct in the Iraq war, but insignificant statements by US government officials concerning their opinions of other governments, in particular those refering to Gordon Brown’s inability to act as Prime Minister seem unimportant and could damage relations internationally.
While it is interesting and perhaps entertaining to find out how US officials see the UK government as e.g. less connected to the Muslim community despite our governments alleged commitment to reconnecting to ethnic communities in the face of terrorism, and how other members o the US government believe Ed Balls to be “dull and charmless” but in light of other more important cables, are Wikileaks just tyring to stir up trouble?
As a journalist student I am expected to report on things of public interest- whether that be government corruption, showbiz gossip or crimes and criminal injustices.
But at the same time, I am restricted by sketchy laws which provide a guideline about things I can and cannot report. And to be honest, when it boils down to it, the laws concerning breach of confidence and defemation and the defence I can use if I am blamed for these issues are fairly inconclusive and subjective to each case.
Today, the Sweedish prosecution are appealing bail of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. He has been accused of sexually assualting two women while in Sweden in August. His bail was rejected last week becasue the judge feared that he would flee the country but on Tuesday he was granted bail. For the same reasons he was kept in prison until today’s appeal.
There are suspicions that Mr Assange’s arrest was orchestrated by America in order to protect its official confidential documents and so by extraditing Mr Assange, Wikileaks would finish.
However, Wikileaks is determined to continue providing a service regardless. And it is clear many people see Mr Assange as a saviour of freedom of speech.
Since his arrest, many companies who withdrew support of the organisation have come under a cyber atack, particularly Mastercard and the Swiss bank account which withdrew their services to Mr Assange.
This group of anonymous hackers are fighting out against these firms in support of the Wikileaks founder and freedom of speech.
But if his arrest is a politically motivated move by America to stop embarrassing documents being published and this is the response, is it proving that Wikileaks is just a trouble causer?
Or is Wikileaks just providing a service and should the US own up to what it has done?
As a journalist I think its important for the public to know things which affect them. The things which have determined important events in our lives such as the Iraq War.
While it is important to know about these issues it is also irrelevant to disclose information about peoples personal opinion of other officials and other governments or countries.