A lot has been said about the WikiLeaks saga already. There's nothing that I could possibly add. Instead, I'll summarize! I'll take the five “actors” in this drama, and state my opinion on each of them in turn.
What the site is doing is, supposedly, illegal. I don't see how speaking the truth out can be considered illegal. Sure, the documents it is leaking are “classified”. But then, one shouldn't use such a channel to insult senior foreign leaders, should one?
If I were WikiLeaks, I would hold my head high today.
Verdict: Illegal, but undoubtedly ethical.
It takes guts to do what this man did – taking on the biggest bunch of hypocrites in this world isn't exactly my idea of a “challenging job”. Having said that, the other, unrelated track (the one for which he has been projected into the limelight for the wrong reasons) merits mention here too.
Charges of sexual offences have been levelled against Julian. He is not exactly charged with rape – it has more to do with engaging in unprotected sex with a sex worker in Sweden, where the law forbids it.
I think while making a martyr out of Julian, this track needs to be kept separate. Lets face it – Julian Assange apparently violated the law in Sweden, and he needs to be punished for it.
Verdict: Illegal and Unethical
US has been trying to pull every string to try and stop the leaks. This puzzles me no end. US is the biggest champion of free speech. If they are hell bent on making a terrorist out of Julian Assange (as Sarah Palin reportedly demanded), doesn't that render hollow everything that the US has ever stood for? Where does that leave the Afghan war? The US stand on Aung San Suu Kyi? That on Tibet? How does that make Julian any different from Liu Xiaobo?
Verdict: Unethical to the core. Dont know (and dont care) whether the methods they are employing to silence WikiLeaks are legal or not.
Service Providers and Other Companies:
Amazon kicked out WikiLeaks citing illegal activities. MasterCard, PayPal, twitter, Facebook – all followed suit by “censoring” WikiLeaks or its sympathizers in one way or other. Ironically, some of these companies depend on freedom of speech for their very existence.
It has been argued that these companies might have taken the step of evicting WikiLeaks under pressure from the US Govt. That is hard to digest – given that these companies operate out of US – not North Korea for Gods' Sake!
Verdict: Unethical. Full Stop.
This is an attempt by a group of hackers to get back at those companies which pulled the rug from under WikiLeaks at the opportune moment. They are trying to do this by means of launching DDoS attacks on the wesbites of the service providers in question. Carrying out such kind of attacks is illegal in several countries. In my opinion, this shouldn't have been done. There must be other ways of supporting WikiLeaks.
Verdict: Bordering on the unethical, outright illegal.
So there you are. That's where I stand as far as WikiLeaks is concerned. I view the antics of the US govt in its desperate attempt to plug the leaks, as an assault on democracy and freedom of speech. Not sure where this showdown is headed though. Will have to wait and watch.