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Australian media support WikiLeaks

(MEAA/IFEX) - Monday, 13 December 2010 - The Media Alliance welcomes the widespread support being expressed within the media and entertainment industries for WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and the public's right to know.

The Federal Media Committee of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance met Friday and voted to show solidarity with the campaign to support Assange, who has been a member of the Alliance for some time.

At the 55th Annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism on Thursday night, federal secretary Christopher Warren said:

"Tonight, journalists and editors around the world are concerned about the attacks on WikiLeaks. This is an issue of freedom of the press. People have a right to information through the opportunities provided by the web. Journalists remain ready to fight for the principle of exposure journalism."

The winner of the Gold Walkley Award, Laurie Oakes, used part of his speech to attack the hysteria over WikiLeaks, and strongly criticised Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland for saying that Assange had done something illegal by publishing the leaked diplomatic cables.

"What they said was ridiculous. To brand what the WikiLeaks site has done as illegal when there is no evidence at all of any breach of the law was, I think, demeaning. I think as journalists we should make it clear that that is our view. Whether it's a letterbox full of classified cables, or a quarter of a million documents in digital form, the principle is the same, and we should fight for the right to publish."

Oakes was awarded the Gold Walkley in recognition of his reporting of leaks that he received during the election campaign.

"Alliance members are behind Assange in his campaign to publish in the face of government attempts to curb the public's right to know," Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren said.

"Assange has taken the ethical responsibilities of the press seriously by collaborating with established media outlets in order to withhold information that could threaten lives. His organisation has done nothing more than publish information that holds governments to account, and we stand by him in his right to do so."

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