World View: Should WikiLeaks give up its fight for transparency?


Suhasini Haidar,CNN-IBN
Aug 08, 2013 at 06:49am IST

Suhasini Haidar: Hello and welcome to World View with me. Edward Snowden gets asylum finally and the US getting angry. Julian assange is also talking about Bradley manning verdict. On the show, Jennifer Robinson, lawyer of wikileaks and legal advisor to asssange, will join us from London. Later on the show, two subcontinents two most famous and powerful women. Bangladesh's foreign ministers Dipu Moni on critical vote our parliament pass next week. Also as Pakistan elect new president, former information minister talks bout what Pakistan's democracy moment means for India.

But first lets turn to the strong gathering between the US and Russia. After Russian officials granted American whistle blower, Edward snowden, temporary asylum for a year, US said it disappointed law makers in the US. The US law makers demanded tough action in this case, telling president Obama that he must cancel his visit to Moscow for G20 next month and America should consider boycotting the winter Olympics in sochi next year.

Of course wikileaks itself had a busy week taking credit for pushing Russia to grant snowden asylum. Meanwhile there in the US, it says that it continues to support Army whistleblower Army Sergeant Bradley Manning. This week the military court acquitted Manning of waging war against the state but convicted him on range of other crimes, including stealing documents effectively calling thief but not the traitor. He faces 136 years in prison. Protesters in support of Mannings gathered outside the courthouse holding that signs which reads "no reason for treason" and " whistleblowers keeps us honest" , remember the soldiers responsible for largest ever leaks 700 thousand sheets of classified documents on US military strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan as well as diplomatic cables and Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, came out to slam that conviction.

Joining us now on all the work wikileaks trying to do, legal adviser to Julian assange as well as lawyer for Wikileaks there in London, Jennifer Robinson. Thanks for speaking to us on worldview Jennifer.

Suhasini Haidar: To begin with, Bradley Manning verdict is certainly a blow in terms of conviction. What kind impact do you think Bradley Mannings verdict is going to have on wikileaks the kind of journalism it does?

Jennifer: This is going to have unprecedented impact on press freedoms, essentially what this decision means in the Bradley Manning's proceedings is that whistle blowing and leaking to press in public interest is espionage. This is the first successful espionage in the United States of the whistleblowers and it means anyone wants to leak to the press in a public interest as Bradley Mannings has, could face serious serious blow which atonement to treason, to spying and he faces up to 136 years in prison. It is important to consider in recent light of military justice, we have seen those responsible for abusing detainees. Abu Gharib gets less than a year, in some circumstances only a the monetary fine. Yet the person who has reveled human rights abuse and war crimes around the world is facing more than a life imprison this is the very serious matter.

Suhasini Haidar: Now Jennifer of course you say that, even so US officials are playing that a different way they are saying that he was acquitted in the very serious charge, the fact that officers came out and did testify that Bradley Manning had not led to the deaths of any American soldiers. It proves that he did infact get the fair trial there in the US and certainly are gonna use that for keep push to Edward snowden who at sometime face the trial back in the US. What do you have to say?

Jennifer: First of all I think its an overstatement to say this trial has been fair. It was certainly the victory for defense team that he was not guilty of aiding the enemy, charge. That charge itself is extraordinary prosecutorial overreach, what if it would have terrible impact on press freedom. So, well, that is a win we have to still remember that he is been convicted on number of counts of espionage, whistle blowing and giving information to press. Now Edward Snowden will of course be watching this very closely. Lets not forget that Bradley Mannings has spent more than thousand days in pre-trial detention, in conditions UN has said amount to be inhuman and degrading treatment. This is by no mean a fair case, he has not been treated fairly and if anything, treatment of Bradley Manning only proves the point that Edward Snowden is right to asylum abroad and anyone in any case only makes his asylum case more stronger than it was before.

Suhasini Haidar: Jennifer Robinson I have to ask, when you look at Bradley Manning verdict certainly something going against whistleblower. As you say Edward snowden may have got asylum but he has be gagged effectively, Julian asssange continues to be there in the Ecuadorian embassy, hardly able to get to sunlight. Is there growing proof that the kind of journalism Wikileaks try to do is losing out and somehow Wikileaks should now give up?

Jennifer: If anything, the ongoing war on whistleblowers and journalistic sources has strengthen Wikileaks and certainly Assange's resolve to continue fighting and I think there are number of victories Wikileaks can claim in last number of years in terms of protecting freedom of information and protecting sources. Edward Snowden is at least safe in Russia for the time being and his seeking has been grant asylum by number of states who recognizes the persecution of whistleblowers in the United states. Wikileaks has continue to publish, Wikileaks has just beaten the financial blockade which had been cutting off all of the donation, and had been recognized by UN as an attempt of economic censorship. So I think among this news there had been lot of winds and Wikileaks will certainly continue to keep on fight.

Suhasini Haidar: Now its an important week for Bangladesh-India ties, next week Parliament is due for vote to ratify the land boarder agreements that could end the decade long boarder dispute between both countries. This is the last Parliamentary session, perhaps before Bangladeshi election campaign really kicks-off and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina counting on that vote to go through. Earlier I spoke to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni who was in Delhi to push for that vote.

Dipu moni: We have our domestic political compulsions but at times we all have to rise above those domestic compulsions and look at the bigger picture. And this is such moment, one such issue ,I believe, Indian public representative would see it from that perspective and would deliver not just to the Bangladesh but to the whole region.

Suhasini Haidar: Will it impact India-Bangladesh ties if another Parliamentary session goes by without the LBA going through?

Dipu moni: You see how our relation is so comprehensive, we have in best of the relationships. Also not everything goes out but we hope that this is not one of those that we can workout this one.

Suhasini Haidar: You are taking positive view of it even so if there is this agreement, the land boarder agreement. There is teesta river settlement all of those were agreed on Pm Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in 2011, its nearly two years later and we see in teesta water agreement taht this is West Bengal Chief Minister whose opposing it. In this we have seen BJP in Assam, BJP in West Bengal opposing the land boarder agreement. In a sense India or Indian government at the center failed to keep its end of bargain.

Dipu moni: I guess these two are pending issues, these two are big issues and there are big concerns in Bangladesh, and we want these to resolve as many people in India also wants. I hope, as I said, it is delivered and it is Indian government, I am sure, are doing their best. I have also talked to the opposition and I am hopeful.

Suhasini Haidar: Now up ahead on World View, another sub continental powerhouse to talk about India Pakistan ties. Sherry Rahman was Pakistan's ambassador to US and information minister, in an exclusive interview with her is coming right away.

Welcome back to World View, now the expectation of the new season in ties between India and Pakistan as two counties discuss the dates for next secretary level round of talks that was suspended in January over LOC beheading. Also on the cards possible meeting between PM Sharif and Singh on the sidelines of UNGA next month. And as the new President Mamnoon Hussein was elected president in Pakistan, the new Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh made another pitch for peace.

Suhasini Haidar: Now the veteran of India Pakistan talks and track two process, Sherry Rahman Pakistan's former information minister and the ambassador to the US. She is now the director of Jinnah institute of Islamabad. I spoke to her what this moment means for bilateral ties.

Rahman: You see Pakistan is not new to democracy, this is new because its uninterrupted, number one. Secondly if there is extraordinary institutional buttressing for democracy, some of it is very challenging. Some posing, I would say, great opportunities for regional interaction and all the kind of ambition for normalizing and establishing the region that people like you and I have for many years. So I do see hope ahead, I see it as a democracy moment.

Suhasini Haidar: Do you think a new president in Pakistan; a new prime minister in Pakistan is actually going to give India more of better ties or less?

Rahman: I think there is a one very clear fact in Pakistan, which needs to be understood across boarder here that there is a multi party consensus in Pakistan on peace with the region and the region calculus has shift over the last five years. Again I give that fair credit to president Zardari for steering in that direction and a great deal of change has come about to reach out to Afghanistan without playing favorites. Reaching out to India for breaking new grounds for trade these two regional pivots that Pakistan has made is something that will continue as democracy.

Suhasini Haidar: We are, in fact, at the moment where there are many prospects for better ties between India and Pakistan. Two Prime Ministers exchange special envoys. PM Singh and PM Sharif might meet each other even so many pointing out there are several problems to begin with the fact that PM Singh possibly in his last year in his term do you see real prospect for peace from this meeting?

Rahman: There are deep challenges in the region that I think will face India and Pakistan and the other countries. But as far as PM Singh is concerned, I think he has made it clear that he would like to be a legacy politician and leave behind corpus of peace building and definition off distrust that has build up over the years bilaterally. And I think he has that much confidence in him but this is up to Indian political class to demonstrate political will. This will become cliché if they are not taken forward and we can keep on moving manus and agendas back and forth, but the time has come for some strategic measures.

Suhasini Haidar: You are saying that the ball is in India's court and yet India would say two big promises made by Pakistan still remains unfulfilled. To begin with the justice to 26/11 victims, finding the perpetrators putting them through the trial, finishing the trial and other was of course giving India MFN status to Indian also unfulfilled some would say Pakistan has not made good on its side.

Rahman: I think if it is going to be choreography of conditionality on each other, then I think Pakistan has some basic questions to ask. When you talk of trials I don't want to be defensive and say justice system takes time, we see many Mumbai happenings in Pakistan. I don't think putting that particular trial and its longevity as a condition to any strategic and peace building really adding to the dialogue as something that we can invest in future, if you look at it as a process with somewhere to go.

Suhasini Haidar: The PM in principle has accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan, but there is no time frame. How important do you think its for PM Singh to visit Pakistan given the fact that atmosphere still not really conducive for peace talks?

Rahman: I think atmosphere is not going to be any more conducive than this, this how its going to be. I wouldn't want the time when Pakistan withdraw that invitation because we have seen the times when doors are shut on both sides. We have seen a era where distrust was so high that water level on any level of conversation would not just be there and I think we need to keep away of that and both side should reciprocate there invitation. I think it cannot be one sided.

Suhasini Haidar: That's here on World View much more on our website and you can engage with our Twitter handles but we will leave you with the new hero of Pakistan inspired by Malala. She is called the burqa avenger cartoon teacher who takes on the feudal and very evil Vadero Pajero and conservative Baba Bandu who just doesn't want girls to study.

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