Friday 15 December 2017

Human rights groups in call for Wikileaks to drop details of civilians

Wikileaks Australian founder, Julian Assange
Wikileaks Australian founder, Julian Assange

Jerome Taylor in Washington

A COALITION of human rights groups has called on Wikileaks to remove details of civilian Afghans who were named when the website released more than 77,000 classified US Army documents on the war in Afghanistan.

In a series of emails sent to the website's founder, Julian Assange, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Amnesty International and three other rights groups called on the whistleblower website to expunge the names of Afghans mentioned in the war logs over fears that they could be targeted by insurgents.

Nader Nadery, from the AIHRC, said he and the four other rights groups in Kabul had written emails to Mr Assange but had yet to hear back.

"There was no consideration about civilian lives," he said, adding that Afghan civilians seen to be collaborating with NATO forces were often assassinated by insurgents. "We said that in the future the names should be redacted and the ones that are already there need to be taken down. Even though it's late, it is still worth doing."

The emails, which were also sent on behalf of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, the Open Society Institute and International Crisis Group, are the first clear indication that some human rights activists are at odds with the way the Afghan logs were published.

Wikileaks, which has been behind some of the most impressive scoops of recent years, gave three newspapers early access to the classified documents which then published their findings simultaneously last month.

Until now, criticism of the decision to leak the logs has largely been consigned to governments involved in the war in Afghanistan.

The US government has gone on the offensive against Wikileaks with reports surfacing in the US last night that defence department officials are considering asking Britain, Germany and Australia to bring criminal charges against Mr Assange.

The website may also come under pressure from Sweden, where Wikileaks operates a number of internet servers.

Wikileaks itself has yet to issue any formal response, but in a series of Twitter updates -- Mr Assange's most common form of communication to the public -- the site's founder appears to be at odds with the groups. In his latest tweet, yesterday, Mr Assange said: "Don't be fooled on the 'human rights groups'. No formal statement. US led." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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