More than 200 prominent public figures have signed a letter published in New Statesman today strongly defending WikiLeaks’ right to publish.
Playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, authors Philip Pullman and Salman Rushdie, as well as actors Susan Sarandon, Laura Wade, Oliver Stone, Steve Coogan, Woody Harrelson and Sam West are among the list of those whom “strenuously denounce” threats of death and prosecution made against WikiLeaks’ director Julian Assange by prominent US politicians.
The letter, presented by the Frontline Club, was assembled by a group of well-known publishers, journalists and filmmakers known as the Committee for the Right to Publish (1), which includes writer Henry Porter and human rights activist Jemima Khan.
Henry Porter said: “There are lot of open letters around these days, but this one – signed by over 200 activists, writers and journalists – is of vital importance because it declares support for one of the fundamental mechanisms of a free society, which is that responsibly published information improves the accountability and performance of governments and big corporations.
“In drafting this letter, we sought to reassert a principle that is easily forgotten in times of change and crisis. We believe that the letter should become a kind declaration that can be signed the world over by journalists and all those who understand the importance of information to democracy.”
Members of the public are being urged to sign the letter, which its authors say “aims to prove that there is a serious body of international public opinion against any future attempts to clamp down on, intimidate or crush leakers and those who publish leaks.”
Jemima Khan said: “If WikiLeaks had existed ten years ago, would there have been any need for a Chilcot inquiry into the illegal Iraq war?
“Defenders of government secrecy who claim that we are safer if the public is kept in ignorance are essentially advocating Chinese or Russian models of deceit, censorship and obfuscation.
“Democracy depends on a strong, free and responsible media as well as an informed public.”
Translated into nine languages, the letter is supported by the organisations OpenDemocracy, Reporters Without Borders, The Newspaper Guild (Communications Workers of America), The International Federation of Journalists and Article 19.
The Open Letter can be signed at www.wikileaksopenletter.com
Notes to editors
(1) The Committee for the Right to Publish are: writer Henry Porter, human rights campaigner Jemima Khan, journalists Charles Glass, Rachel Johnson and Elaine Potter, filmmakers Roger Graef and Vaughan Smith (chair) and publishers Tony Curzon Price and Anthony Barnett.
(2) Along with many others, the letter has been signed by: Lisa Appignanesi, John Berger, Fatima Bhutto, Rachel Billington, Rosie Boycott, Heather Brooke, Noam Chomsky, Patrick Cockburn, Steve Coogan, Jeremy Dear, Molly Dineen, Ariel Dorfman, David Edgar, Daniel Ellsberg, Bill Emmott, Richard Eyre, John Kampfner, Woody Harrelson, Sue Hollick, Hugh Hudson, Will Hutton, Helena Kennedy, Imran Khan, Philip Knightley, Hanif Kureishi, Mike Leigh, Kim Longinotto, Edward MacMillan Scott, Terry McDonell, Michael Moore, Philip Pullman, David Puttnam, Salman Rushdie, Richard Sambrook, Susan Sarandon, Alexandra Shulman, Tom Stoppard, Oliver Stone, Laura Wade, Marina Warner, AN Wilson. (to view the full list, visit http://wikileaksopenletter.com/website/list/)
(3) For the full text of the open letter, please see the .pdf file attached.
(4) Julian Assange is set to feature at an adversarial debate organised by the Frontline Club and New Statesman on Saturday 9th April at 5pm. Details can be found here.