The New York Times reported on Sunday that Julian Assange of Wikileaks, whom many of you know, is living like a hunted outlaw these days, and perhaps worst of all, may soon be the target of espionage charges filed in the US. Such charges would be a dreadful precedent and an attack on all of us. The Times reported:
"Pentagon and Justice department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange “return” all government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not “solicit” further American materials." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/world/24assange.html?_r=1&th&emc=th)
Folks, if it is espionage to publish documents provided by whistleblowers, then it is industrial espionage to publish documents from business whistleblowers too. It is not our job to keep secrets for governements or organisations that cannot keep them on their own. Nor is it our job to hide their misdeeds and mistakes, which is usually what they want to keep secret.
Julian Assange does not play by the same rules we play by; our concepts of source protection and discretion are not identical. Granted. But on this matter, he deserves our support, because Wikileaks is furthering transparency at a moment when governments are shrinking it. I don't see how we can invite this guy to our conferences and not say a thing at a time like this.
Best to all,
Mark Lee Hunter
Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow, INSEAD
Docteur en Sciences de l'Information de l'Université de Paris 2
Portable: (+33) 6 27 81 00 87
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