Wikileaks Forum attacks – followup

There are a few comments on our article about the attacks on Wikileaks Forum by Wikileaks supporters from the admin of the Forum.  We have verified that it was the Admin who posted the comments.

The comments say (in chronological order, links go to original comment):

This article was written against the wishes of the forum admin !!

this article was written AGAINST the wishes of the Forum !!

please take this page down immediately. You are putting people at risk for the sake of propaganda.
admin of the wikileaks forum

Please take these attacks down. YOU are endangering staff members !

awaiting some kind of answer.please respond

The comments came in overnight. When they were seen, we sought verification of the author before publishing.

We did not seek permission from Wikileaks Forum either to write or to publish the article. All the information was in the public domain. We are unsure why the Admin is stating that we published without his permission.  While that is true, we didn’t need his permission – or anyone’s.

We did, as a courtesy, pass Forum a pre-release draft and ask if they had any quotes or could spot any errors. Forum did give us a quote, but made it clear that they would prefer that we did not publish.  When we stated that we were going to publish, they retracted the quote and asked us not to use it.  It was removed in accordance with their wishes.

One correction they requested was that we originally stated that the threats were violent; they told us this was not the case.  However, when they retracted their quote (which was in part about that fact) we no longer had a reliable source to attribute the non-violent assertion to –  so we felt we had to remove a firm claim either way.

Once again: our article simply gathered tweets already in the public domain, put them together, and commented on them. We did not need permission. While we were aware of the wishes of the Forum Admin that we did not publish, we strongly felt that the public interest was the overriding concern, especially in light of the fact that we were told that the threats were not of a violent nature.

But whoever is behind the threats towards the Forum has done what abusive governments, corrupt politicians, and law-breaking companies love to get away with: they have silenced criticism using strong-arm tactics. And they have scared the administrator of a leaking forum to such a degree that he is now – with not even a hint of irony – asking for sites not to publish information which was always in the public domain by saying that we did not “have permission”.

We trust that those responsible  are well pleased by their actions, and the result that their tactics have given them.  Abuse and threats are a tried and tested model, but one that we at Wikiwatch oppose on principle. We wonder if Wikileaks will join the condemnation of those who attacked the Forum and those who issued threats? We will be watching their twitter feed with interest.

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