Press release

UNESCO: WikiLeaks Newspapers Honoured For Their Contribution To Freedom Of Information

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ARTICLE 19

07 Apr 2011

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Malaga, Spain: 07.04.11:  The UNESCO Chair of Communication 2011 Press freedom Award of the University of Malaga, taking place today, recognises the valuable contribution made by five globally influential national newspapers in the dissemination of the wikileaks cables. ARTICLE 19 is thus particularly pleased to be associated with this Award, as a jury member for this year’s awards.  

 “The five newspapers that we are honouring today – El Pais, Le Monde, the Guardian, the new York Times and der Spiegel - have played a central role in bringing to worldwide attention diplomatic cables released by the website wikeleaks.  By so doing they have multiplied the effect of these leaks beyond what could have been expected originally,” said jury-panel member, Agnes Callamard, Executive Director ARTICLE 19, whilst presenting one of the awards today.

“In a world dominated by talk over electronic media, the Internet, social media and cyber activism, one may be tempted to forget the fundamental role played by traditional  and mainstream print media in strengthening the free flow of information around the world, and as a result in the movements for greater freedom.  Their role remains particularly crucial in a world still characterised by uneven and unequal access to the means of electronic communication,” Callamard continued.

Following the release of the cables, the US Government and other countries have sought to prosecute a Wikileaks representative for violating the Espionage Act or other national Officials Secrets Acts. Governments and elected officials have exerted much political pressure on internet companies, to force them to deny provision of services to WikiLeaks even though there had been no prior authorisation from a court. There have been calls for violence against Wikileaks staff and whistleblowers, including from public officials. There have been demands to maintain or expand secrecy legislation. 

ARTICLE 19 believes that documents released by the newspapers have revealed information of great public interest to citizens around the world, including on issues such as corruption in Afghanistan, Kenya, Tunisia, and Nigeria, and censorship in China and Russia. Other issues covered include efforts by the US government to pressure the Spanish government to limit prosecutions of the American military officials who killed a Spanish journalist in Iraq, and pressure on French parliamentarians to adopt a controversial intellectual property law cutting people off of the internet.

The Award highlights the best kind of journalism possible: ethical, professional, investigative, in depth, contextual, analytical and supporting public‘s right to know.