Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If Assange Were In China, US Politicians Would Be Cheering Him On

We've pointed out the general hypocrisy of US politicians calling for an end to internet censorship, while threatening Wikileaks at the same time. If you want to see some real irony, check out the fact that Senator Joe Lieberman, who has been the loudest voice in pushing for censorship of Wikileaks and of others in the press, just so happens to be a member of the "Global Internet Freedom Caucus." Yeah, except here in the US.

Along those lines, Martin Varsavsky points out the obvious: if Julian Assange were a Chinese citizen, publishing Chinese government documents, the US would likely be cheering him on:
Lately I have a strong feeling that the Chinese must be rejoicing at all the "retroactive law invention" that is going on in the West to put one man in jail. Because if Assange had been a Chinese citizen promoting transparency in China we would be lining up to give him the Nobel Prize. We can't demand transparency from others and censorship for ourselves.
In fact, as Evgeny Morozov notes, Russia's Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin is already using the US's reaction to Wikileaks to say what a joke "freedom of the press" is in America. That tweet is in Russian, but the Google translation is:
In my opinion, the fate of Assange says the lack of media freedom in the West, the presence of political persecution and human rights violations.
What's really stunning, beyond just the sheer uselessness and impotence of the US government's response to Wikileaks, is the fact that it's inevitably destroying any moral high ground on claims of freedom and support of free speech we might have once had. In the end, I would expect that to have a much bigger impact than anything that's in the actual leaked cables.