Julian Assange says that the authoritarian regimes of the world define themselves through their attempts at concealment and conspiracy.
Some governments – we don’t know exactly which, but the group seems to include the governments of Australia, the UK, Sweden and Switzerland – are apparently set on confirming his theory. There’s some recent evidence from Switzerland here.
I have to say that if a government thinks that what the Wikileaks people have done is criminal (and by extension, that what Der Spiegel, The Guardian and the New York Times have done is criminal) then they should issue an arrest warrant and, if relevant, start extradition proceedings. They shouldn’t act like anonymous, shabby harassers. It doesn’t help the cause of state secrecy to muddle the Wikileaks releases up with what Julian Assange may or may not have done on his nights off, or with his filling out a bank account application incorrectly. It does nothing for anyone’s confidence in government if PayPal gets leant on so that donations to Wikileaks don’t make it to Wikileaks, or if Wikileaks’s various web servers are serially taken out as and when they come into use. All of that stuff erodes the legitimacy of government.
Perhaps governments are shit scared by Wikileaks. If so, then I’d direct them to this piece by Martin Kettle. I’d also suggest that they be as nice as possible to their employees; I’m thinking of the ones doing jobs like Specialist Bradley Manning did. This would be just a prudential measure: I don’t suggest that what Manning did was the right thing for anyone to do.