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Henning Mankell: 'Stand by WikiLeaks'
An appeal to journalists, authors, cultural workers, and democratically minded people everywhere.
It's our duty to support WikiLeaks, write Arne Ruth, Johan Berggren, and Anna Hellgren together with a number of cultural profiles such as Eva Bergman and Wallander author Henning Mankell.
The past few weeks everything's been about WikiLeaks. Newspapers around the world have been full of reports about and materials from the biggest diplomatic leak in modern times. The reaction didn't dally: the not-for-profit organisation has been branded a terrorist network and its bank accounts have been blocked, its servers attacked.
It's still OK to donate money to the Ku Klux Klan with Visa; but not to WikiLeaks. In the US the republican politicians have called for the death penalty for frontman Julian Assange. Pressure from the US authorities have got MasterCard and PayPal to stop transactions to WikiLeaks - despite neither the organisation nor anyone connected to it being indicted for crime in the US. China has - of course - banned WikiLeaks.
This is a direct attack on freedom of expression. We want to therefore express our self-evident support for the right of WikiLeaks to freely spread information of common interest. This right is written in the constitution of many countries, not in the least Sweden's. It troubles us deeply that a number of Swedish editors and prominent journalists the past few days have joined the attacks on WikiLeaks and with sweeping rhetoric criticised the operations of the organisation as irresponsible. But the fundamental task of journalism is to review and expose what the powers that be try to hide from their citizens. This is at least the reason there is legislation for freedom of expression and source protection: everyone must have the judicial possibility to express themselves about what the political establishment deems unsuitable. This is the foundation of democracy.
To be considerate of how governments or other powers that be are affected by the pursuit of journalism is on the other hand not the responsibility of publicists. WikiLeaks cannot be blamed for the problems with the international policies of the US or China or for the fact that Swedish, Dutch, or Saudi top politicians feel uncomfortable or upset. Politicians make wars - not the activists. That Bradley Manning, the 23 year old US soldier who most likely is the WikiLeaks source in this case, now risks 52 years in prison is shocking. What's the difference between Manning and Watergate's 'Deep Throat' or the Ingvar Bratt of the Bofors scandal? Should the media groups have refrained from publishing the information Manning provided WikiLeaks? Should the editors of DN.se, SvD, or SVT have returned the material?
In such case we need WikiLeaks more than ever to carry out the task of the publicists, one of the cornerstones of our democracies.
To attack WikiLeaks because its work could lead to greater secrecy is the same as discouraging people from using their freedom of expression for fear they'll lose it.
The Swedish criminal suspicions about Julian Assange have to be cleared up and be investigated legally. It's however important to clearly distinguish the private individual Assange and the organisation WikiLeaks. Every bit of leverage from the US about the extradition of Assange for deeds connected to WikiLeaks must therefore be resisted - anything else would be a betrayal of international human rights and freedom of expression.
In the week that was the US government announced that Washington in May 2011 will host UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day, the purpose of which is to 'support and expand the freedom of the press and the free flow of information' in the digital era. According to the press release, people are worried that 'certain governments censor and silence individuals and thwart the free flow of information'. The unintentional irony is thick.
The undersigned of this appeal support without reservation the right of WikiLeaks to publish secret documents in the public interest. We condemn all attempts by authorities and private organisations to thwart the work of the organisation. This in the name of freedom of expression.
We call on all journalists, authors, cultural workers, and democratically minded citizens to use political, economic, and literary means to stand by WikiLeaks.
Pelle Andersson, Ordfront Publishers
Samira Ariadad, Brand
Johan Berggren, Ordfront Magazine
Eva Bergman, film director
Göran Dahlberg, Glänta
Unni Drougge, author
Carl-Michael Edenborg, Vertigo Publishers
Anna Hellgren, Dagens Arena
Dan Israel, Leopard Publishers
Gabriel Itkes-Sznap and Daniel Strand, Ink Publishers
Henning Mankell, author
Olav Fumarola Unsgaard and Devrim Mavi, Arena
Suzanne Osten, film director
Rasmus Redemo and Oskar Söderlind, Tankekraft Publishers
Arne Ruth, publicist
Daniel Suhonen, Tvärdrag
Carl Henrik Svenstedt, author
Svante Weyler, Weyler Publishers
Åsa Linderborg, Aftonbladet