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Assange: WikiLeaks 'fearlessly publishing facts'

By The CNN Wire Staff
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WikiLeaks editor in jail
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In an Australian newspaper, Assange defends document leaks
  • He says not all wars are wrong, but governments should tell the truth
  • "WikiLeaks deserves protection, not threats and attacks," he says in editorial
  • Sarah Palin complains Assange misquoted her

(CNN) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defends the publication of secret U.S. documents in an editorial published online early Wednesday by The Australian newspaper.

WikiLeaks is serving a vital purpose, Assange wrote, "fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public."

"Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media," he wrote. "The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption."

Assange, an Australian, argues that "WikiLeaks deserves protection, not threats and attacks" and has sharp criticisms of the Australian government.

"We are the underdogs," he wrote. "The [Prime Minister Julia] Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

"Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality."

Assange, charged with sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in Sweden, is in jail in London awaiting a court decision on his extradition to the Scandinavian nation. He was arrested after turning himself in at a London police station.

Assange said the leaks of documents about the Afghan and Iraq wars do not argue against all wars.

"People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not," he said. "Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it."

The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief accused Australian politicians of joining the U.S. State Department with claims that the leaks risk lives, endanger troops and threaten national security and then claim "there is nothing of importance" in the WikiLeaks publications.

"It can't be both," he said. "Which is it?"

"It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the U.S., with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone."

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Noting the four major publications -- The New York Times, Spain's El Pais, Britain's The Guardian and Germany's Der Spiegel -- that have published the WikiLeaks documents, Assange wondered why only his organization "has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the U.S. government and its acolytes."

And he ran afoul of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Last week, Palin, who was the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and who draws significant media attention with her frequent Facebook and Twitter posts about political issues, slammed the Obama administration's handling of the WikiLeaks matter -- and Assange himself.

"Assange is not a 'journalist,' any more than the 'editor' of al Qaeda's new English-language magazine Inspire is a 'journalist,'" she said last month on Facebook. "He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?"

Complaining that he has been accused of treason in the United States although he is an Australian citizen and that "there have been dozens of serious calls in the U.S. for me to be 'taken out' by U.S. Special Forces," Assange adds that "Sarah Palin says I should be 'hunted down like Osama bin Laden.'"

Palin, noting accurately that she did not mention bin Laden in her Facebook post, tweeted her reaction.

"Someone making things up again?Keep seeing this quote attributed to me.Huh?Wikileaks Assange on Sarah Palin's Criticism."

Read the editorial by Assange published by The Australian

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