Wikileaks and Article 19 

Statement issued by Article 19 Human Rights Organization – 
Universal Right To Seek And To Publish Information Without Frontiers – 
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
 this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and 
to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and 
regardless of frontiers — Universal Delcaration Of The Human Rights

London. December 3, 2010 /– The Human Rights 
Organization Article 19 has released on Thursday a statement on the 
situation of Wikileaks, Julian Assange and the universal right to seek 
and to publish information of any kind aacording to article 19 of the 
Universal Declaration Of The Human Rights which have been proclaimed in 
1948 by the United Nations in New York City in the United States of 
America. The controversy over the latest release of documents by 
Wikileaks and major newspapers should not be used by nations as an 
excuse to limit citizens’ rights to access information. ARTICLE 19 calls
 on governments around the world to fulfil their obligations to 
transparency and the public’s right to know, including the obligation to
 give full effect to principles of proactive and mandatory disclosure of

“Information is the oxygen of democracy” says Dr Agnes Callamard, 
ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. “Rather than passing more secrecy laws 
and threatening to prosecute journalists and whistleblowers, governments
 should focus on making more information available and only protecting 
that which can cause substantive harm. At the same time, journalists 
have an obligation to exercise caution when revealing possibly sensitive

As ARTICLE 19 highlighted previously, respect for international 
standards on freedom of information and protection of whistleblowers are
 paramount to the debates on issues raised by latest releases. ARTICLE 
19 maintains that under these standards, any restrictions on access to 
information must fall within the scope of the limited regime of 
exceptions. It is public bodies who are obliged to show that disclosure 
of the information would cause substantial harm and information should 
still be disclosed if the benefits of disclosure outweigh such harm. 
States should also adopt and implement a legal and policy framework that
 protects whistleblowers from prosecution, and allow for public interest
 exemptions for revealing information such as corruption or human rights

ARTICLE 19 notes that much of the information contained in the cables
 appears to be already available in the public domain. None of the 
released documents were classified as top secret and most of the 
information in those six per cent classified as secret was also 
publically known. Further, these documents would likely be released 
anyway in the course of requests under the US Freedom of Information 

ARTICLE 19 is concerned about efforts by the US Government and other 
countries to prosecute a Wikileaks representative for violating the 
Espionage Act or other national Officials Secrets Acts. IIt is an 
obligation of governments – not of media and private individuals – to 
protect the confidentiality of official information if necessary under 
legitimate interests. We also urge the media, government officials, 
academics, and others to condemn calls for violence against Wikileaks 
staff and whistleblowers.

ARTICLE 19 also rejects calls and demands to maintain or expand 
secrecy legislation rather than adopt a comprehensive right to 
information framework, including the obligation of proactive disclosure.
 Nations without freedom of information laws such as Singapore have used
 the Wikileaks revelations as an excuse to justify their current 
restrictive regimes, while China has blocked internet access to the 
site. We call on all governments to respect of the right to information 
and its importance in democratic processes.

ARTICLE 19 does not believe that the leaks are likely to chill the 
speech of officials and rejects any policy changes that would impact on 
the free flow of information in this area. Studies of the effects of 
right to information legislation in numerous countries have found that 
there has been little impact on the amount of information that is 
recorded or that opinions are blunted following an increase in 
transparency. In fact, in some cases, they have found that the quality 
of documents has improved with the knowledge that it will become public 
some day, and focus on provision of real political analysis. Officials 
have a duty to pass on important information and that is not lifted 
because of fears that it one day may become public. The US FOIA has been
 in effect for over 40 years so several generations of officials have 
learned to live with it.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the apparently extensive efforts by the 
newspapers involved in the release of the embassy cables to review the 
documents, place them in context and ensure that the release of the 
information did not cause serious harm. Most of the analysis has been 
serious and has shone an important light on relations between nations. 
We also commend the fact that it was the combination and collaboration 
of electronic and mainstream media that gave strength to the latest 
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and 
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without 
interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas 
through any media and regardless of frontiers — Universal Delcaration Of
 The Human Rights. The full version of the Universal Declaration Of The 
Human Rights valid worldwide and universal are available on

Communication Center / Kommunikations-Dienste

Journalisten-Büro Andreas Klamm-Sabaot, Andreas Klamm Journalist,,,, Radio TV IBS Liberty, 
ISMOT International Social And Medical Outreach Team, IFN International 
Family Network d734, MJB Mission News, ISSN 1999-8414, John Baptist 
Mission of Togo, Vertretung für Deutschland, Vertretung für Groß 

Germany / Deutschland: Postfach 1113 (P.O. BOX 
1113), D 67137 Neuhofen




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