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WikiLeaks seeks protection in Sweden

Publishers are a new sort of refugees, WikiLeaks founder said in Stockholm as he plans to publish more secret Afghan documents.

WikiLeaks to publish more secret Afghan files
The US puts pressure on Sweden over WikiLeaks
Swedish IT firm helps WikiLeaks publish papers

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Julian Assange, founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, will apply for Swedish publishing licence. That would give the website protection under the Scandinavian country's whistleblower protection laws.

"We're dealing with organizations that don't obey the law. We're dealing with intelligence agencies," Julian Assange told news agency TT.

The WikiLeaks founder vowed Saturday to publish the last batch of secret documents on the Afghan war in "a couple of weeks", despite Pentagon pleas they would put further lives at risk.

The website’s server is located in Sweden and the organization passes information via Sweden to protect sources. Sweden has a strong tradition of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Protection of journalistic sources in Sweden is very strong.

"Sweden is vital for our work. We have had long-term support from the Swedish people and the Swedish legal system. Our servers were initially based in the United States and moved to Sweden early on in 2007," he told the newswire.

"There's actually a small industry in Sweden; a new sort of refugee exists in the world, which is publishers. It is I think something for Swedes to be quite proud of: that they are facilitating a strong and free press," he said.

But as the website has no licence to publish material in Sweden, and therefore placing the server in Sweden does not give WikiLeaks automatic protection.

"It is too simple to claim that all WikiLeaks sources are totally protected in Sweden", Håkan Rustand, deputy to the acting chancellor of justice, told daily Sydsvenskan. "If the constitutional laws are non-applicable, ordinary liability laws take effect. This means a source could be brought to court by a common prosecutor."

Therefore Julian Assange will apply for Swedish publishing licence (utgivningsbevis) as early as next week. He also said that WikiLeaks had already been offered protection by two Swedish newspapers.

WikiLeaks, which was founded in December 2006 and styles itself "the first intelligence agency of the people," published some 70,000 classified documents on the US-led war in Afghanistan in late July.

The Pentagon has urged WikiLeaks to "do the right thing," and return the leaked US military documents and stop any future public releases.

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt last week denied that the US government has approached Sweden to pull the plug on the whistleblower website. But Julian Assange is far from convinced.

"I would imagine that informal talks have been established in Sweden but we're waiting for proof of that", he told TT.



Last Updated (Monday, 16 August 2010 15:43)


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