War of the wikis: Wikipedia co-founder slams WikiLeaks expose
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War of the wikis: Wikipedia co-founder slams WikiLeaks expose

Jimmy Wales says whistle-blower website's decision to publish classified US military documents could put innocent lives at risk. They are not a wiki, he says.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2010 17:03 IST

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said on Tuesday that whistle-blower website WikiLeaks' decision to publish entire contents of classified US military documents was irresponsible and could put innocent lives at risk.

WikiLeaks drew worldwide publicity in late July when it posted a huge trove of secret US military documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Defense Department has warned it could have blood on its hands for publishing documents that name Afghan sources.

Wales said he supported the need for avenues for whistle-blowers to expose wrongdoing but called for journalistic integrity and responsibility to censor unrelated information that could put people in danger.

"The issue that I have with WikiLeaks is they have a tendency to just want to publish absolutely everything, and I think that can be very, very dangerous," Wales told a business conference in Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur. "I don't think (WikiLeaks founder) Julian Assange wants those people killed. However, if he irresponsibly follows the policy of releasing absolutely everything, it is incredibly dangerous for those people.

"I think it is really important when we have sensitive information, that we do rely on responsible journalists to sort through it for us. It's much better than dumping all kinds of crazy information online and get people killed."

Assange has defended WikiLeaks' policy, saying the goal was to give a complete picture of the war efforts and a more accurate account of civilian deaths. He has also said the documents didn't reveal troop movements or other sensitive tactical information.

Wales said WikiLeaks got famous in the first place by using the word "wiki," which he said was unfortunate.

"I have absolutely nothing to do with WikiLeaks and I don't even approve of what they are doing," he said. "I would distance myself from WikiLeaks. I wish they wouldn't use the name. They are not a wiki."

The WikiLeaks leak is unrivaled in its scope, but so far there is no evidence that any Afghans named in the leaked documents as defectors or informants from the Taliban insurgency have been harmed in retaliation.

First Published: Sep 28, 2010 16:20 IST