Wikileaks appears to have lost credibility by faking an op-ed article
Scottish news: Wikileaks claims responsibility for fake article
by Rosie Harrison
Wikileaks have claimed responsibility for a forged op-ed article which seemed to be written by the former executive editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller. The article concerns the financial blockade that has prevented donations through Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Paypal to Wikileaks since early 2011.
In reaction to a potential extension of the blockade to the New York Times for publishing Wikileaks cables in the past, the fake Keller defends Wikileaks, putting forward a strong argument against the blockade.
Technically, the forgery was a success. The format matched authentic New York Times articles so accurately, complete with operational links and adverts, that Times tech editor Nick Bilton retweeted it to his 129 000 fans, indicating praise for its contents.
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Though the twitter account that sent out the initial tweet turned out to be a clever fake – using a capital I and a lower case l for Keller – Bill Keller’s actual account retweeted the article later that day. It is not yet clear if this was a case of accidental endorsement or Wikileaks hacking his account.
Strategically, the forgery has been heavily criticised. Wikileaks appear to have moved themselves into a weak position. The financial blockade has impeded their growth and Julian Assange’s public image continues to deteriorate, harming their credibility.
Wikileaks relies on the credibility of their broadcasts to sustain them; credibility which they have opened to doubt with this recent forgery. Even unwavering supporters of Wikileaks have expressed disapproval, such as US lawyer and columnist Glenn Greenwald quoted on Forbes:
“It doesn’t strike me as a good idea for a group that relies on its credibility when it comes to the authenticity of what they publish — and which thus far has had a stellar record in that regard — to be making boastful claims that they published forged documents. I understand and appreciate the satire, but in this case, it directly conflicts with, and undermines, the primary value of WikiLeaks.”
Such criticism is supported by Bill Keller’s reaction to the hoax. He tells the Guardian:
“I see this in the realm of childish prank rather than crime against humanity. It’s a lame satire. I’d take it a little more seriously if it were actually funny,”
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is currently seeking asylum in Ecuador from charges of sexual assault. Additional negative publicity for Wikileaks at this time could prove fatal for the future of the organisation.
In the latest development, Mr Assange has recruited a Spanish jurist, who once indicted Augusto Pinochet, Baltasar Garzón to head his legal team.
In a joint press release Mr Garzón and Mr Assange have revealed that they are planning a "new legal strategy which will defend both WikiLeaks and Julian Assange" which will "show how the secret U.S. processes against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have compromised and contaminated other legal processes."
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