US acting like 'retrogressive Pak' in its attempts to censor WikiLeaks: Pak editorial

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Islamabad, Dec 9 (ANI): The WikiLeaks-Assange episode indicates that the 'backwardness' of underdeveloped countries like Pakistan, which was called 'retrogressive' for banning social networking site 'Facebook', has now spread to the developed world, an editorial in a Pakistani newspaper has said.

"When Facebook was banned in Pakistan following the creation of the 'Everybody Draw Mohammed [PBUH] Day!' page on the social networking website, we were called a backward, retrogressive state that was clamping down on freedom of expression," the Daily Times editorial said.

"We did not support the ban on Facebook back then and similarly, we condemn the attack against WikiLeaks now. It seems that the 'backwardness' of underdeveloped countries like Pakistan has now spread to the developed world. Governments in the west claim that the WikiLeaks expose has endangered the lives of foreign troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but these sound more and more like self-serving arguments of governments that like to cloak themselves in a veil of secrecy," it added.

The editorial was of the view that internet, which has democratised access to information beyond imagination, must be preserved, as in this time and age, internet censorship itself is a "crime against humanity."

On Tuesday, the WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, had surrendered himself to UK police, after which he was arrested formally for alleged sex crimes. He was denied bail and will remain in custody until a fresh hearing on December 14.

According to the London Metropolitan Police, Assange "is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010".

The editorial noted that the "timing of the charges against Assange and Interpol's Red Notice for two cases of consensual sex that allegedly turned into abuse are highly suspicious."

It said that while rape and molestation are definitely serious crimes and one cannot condone them, but those supporting the WikiLeaks founder are of the same view as Assange- that the US as well as other countries are not too happy with the revelations made by his whistleblower website, and "may well be influencing the course of events in the case against him."

As long as WikiLeaks was "only exposing authoritarian regimes in Asia and elsewhere, the West did not have any issues with it," said the editorial.

"As soon as WikiLeaks started exposing the US and other western governments, the equation changed. Now its work is being called unethical," it added.

"On the contrary, we believe that WikiLeaks has revolutionised the medium of information," said the editorial, adding that Assange was only a messenger, while the "real message behind these leaked documents is being ignored." (ANI)

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