`WikiLeaks inspired Indian anti-graft movement`

Last Updated: Monday, April 11, 2011 - 00:49

London: Revelations by the WikiLeaks are
having a positive impact, believes its founder Julian Assange,
who claims that the publication of secret US embassy cables by
the Indian media had helped inspire an anti-graft movement in
the country.



Questioned at a public debate about the whistleblowing
organisation`s own transparency, Assange told an audience of
700 people, many of them supporters: "We are directly
supported on a week-to-week basis by you. You vote with your
wallets every week if you believe that our work is worthwhile
or not. If you believe we have erred, you do not support us.
If you believe we need to be protected in our work, you keep
us strong".



"That dynamic feedback, I say, is more responsive than
a government that is elected after sourcing money from big
business every four years," the Guardian quoted the Australian
as saying in his first formal public appearance since being
arrested in December following accusations of rape and sexual
assault.
The WikiLeaks founder, who is currently appealing
against his extradition to Sweden to face allegations of
sexual assault, told the audience at a packed debate organised
by the New Statesman and the Frontline Club that
whistleblowing was essential in a democracy because "the only
way we can know whether information is legitimately kept
secret is when it is revealed".



He cited the examples of Vietnam and "the disaster
that was the Iraq war", saying that if whistleblowers had had
the courage to speak up earlier about both conflicts,
"bloodbaths" could have been avoided.



He said he "could speak for hours" about the impact of
the publication of leaked US embassy cables, much of it
through the Guardian, and that leak`s positive impact.
The Hindu newspaper had in recent weeks published 21
front pages based on so-called "cablegate" revelations,
Assange said, leading to the Indian opposition walking out
four times from the Parliament and a growing anti-corruption
movement in the country.
A US embassy cable made public by WikiLeaks had
suggested that the UPA government had allegedly paid bribes to
buy MPs in support of a trust vote on the Indo-US nuclear
deal, creating a furore and prompting denials by the
government.



But political commentator Douglas Murray, director of
the centre for social cohesion, challenged Assange over the
website`s sources of funding, its staffing and connections
with the Holocaust denier Israel Shamir, who has worked with
the site.



"What gives you the right to decide what should be
known or not? Governments are elected. You, Mr Assange are
not."



PTI



First Published: Monday, April 11, 2011 - 00:49

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