ELEANOR HALL: The United Nations representative for freedom of opinion and expression says he is now working on a new report on free speech and the
Frank La Rue says he doesn't think that the United States Government will be able to make a case against Julian Assange. But he warns it would set a
very bad example for free speech if it did take action against him.
He spoke to me earlier today from his home in Guatemala City:
Frank La Rue you monitor freedom of expression and attempts to curtail it around the world. Do you agree with supporters of WikiLeaks that its founder
Julian Assange is now a martyr for free speech?
FRANK LA RUE: It certainly is. If there is a responsibility by leaking information it is of, exclusively of the person that made the leak and not of
the media that publish it. And this is the way that transparency works and that corruption has been confronted in many cases.
I do believe there's some types of limitations that I actually drafted in my report in Geneva last year and some basic principles. But essentially
they have to be in exceptional form.
They have to be established by law. They have to protect a superior goal and imminent danger. And the legislation has to be prior, it has to be clear
so people can actually understand perfectly well what will be limited…
ELEANOR HALL: So do you think given that then that the US Government has any grounds to charge the WikiLeaks founder and to seek his extradition?
FRANK LA RUE: I don't think so. I think with the WikiLeaks founder there's two issues at stake. He supposedly is going to be extradited to Sweden
for other types of crime not related at all to freedom of expression.
If that is the case I have nothing to say except that I wish that Sweden or any country where he will be tried give him the full guarantees of due
process of law and a full possibility of defence.
But in reference to what has been published in WikiLeaks I think there is no criminal responsibility for being the medium. This is one of the big
debates in internet and up to now the general doctrine is that there is no responsibility just to transfer information.
There is a responsibility in I would say in this case in two situations. One is that some statements can clearly be a threat to national security. And
the second issue is the personal safety of individuals. Those are the cases that really have to be looked at.
But having said that just the fact that the information is embarrassing information to a government does not make it subject to be blocked or filtered
or reprisals to the director/founder of the service.
Full article: www.abc.net.au...
It's great to hear speaking out against the vicious attack on freedom of speech, which is being launched by the US goverment...with the support of
Australia and France particularly, I think.
What I find particularly of interest is that if (God forbid) there ever should be a court case, the prosecution would have to argue risk to national
security/and or putting an individual at risk. I don't believe this hysteria about the leaks being a risk to national security, and we know they use
it all the time as leverage for anything they want to do. So the thought crossed my mind that it would be even more embarrasing, hugely embarrassing
for the US if they actually did go that far, only for a judge to find there was no real risk to national security. It would be a massive humiliatio