Leaked cables may not be a bad thing after all

Diana Fung, German Swiss International School
Diana Fung, German Swiss International School |

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden for crimes unrelated to his website.

The US government is also examining possible charges against him for publishing more than 250,000 unauthorised diplomatic cables on his website. The cables include 11,000 "secret military documents" linked to the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.

There are rumours that the two issues are linked. If this is true, then the Swedish prosecution would have been politically motivated - to prevent Assange from publishing further information.

The heart of the debate is: should Assange be punished for leaking national secrets? If yes, what punishment does he deserve?

The release of secret documents, according to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "puts people's lives in danger, threatens national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems".

The Wikileaks cables tarnished the White House's reputation and caused a stir in international relations, for example, between China and North Korea, and Iran and its Arab neighbours. Enraged politicians have called for the arrest of Assange for treason or espionage.

But Wikileaks' mission was to "keep governments open". It might not turn out to be such a disaster in the long run. The incident might bring about improved government transparency. National leaders will learn more about each other, leading to greater co-operation between them.

Assange did it all for a good cause - perhaps he was doing the right thing the wrong way.