In its relatively short existence, whistleblower website WikiLeaks has uncovered evidence of possible US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and revealed the mendacity of Middle Eastern regimes to such an extent that it may have been one of the factors that ignited the Arab Spring. WikiLeaks exists solely to hold the powerful accountable and for that a price must be paid. Given that the founder of the website, Julian Assange, is not a US citizen, the American government could not jail him and so has had to find alternative means of silencing him. They have finally succeeded. WikiLeaks announced on October 25 that they would not be leaking any more documents to try and tackle what they called a “financial blockade”. Ever since Assange and his website started taking on the US, the Obama administration has tried its best to suffocate WikiLeaks. Credit card companies have refused to process donations to the website, its bank accounts have been shut down and even web-hosting sites are reluctant to allow the site to be hosted on its servers. WikiLeaks’ greatest source, US army soldier Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement without charge for over a year, in conditions that human rights activists believe amounts to torture. Despite all these punitive measures, no one has been able to pinpoint exactly what WikiLeaks is guilty of. If anything, it provided a service that all media should be striving towards: releasing confidential information that often revealed government wrongdoing.
Of course, as this has happened, Assange himself has come under fire, and this includes people who have worked with him, some of whom have accused him of suffering from a messiah complex. Either way, the importance of WikiLeaks cannot be denied and quite frankly it revolutionised the way official wrongdoing is revealed via the unearthing of important and relevant information. And it is for that reason alone that one hopes its financial condition will improve so that it can keep on doing what it has been for the past many months.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.
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