Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Obama calls WikiLeaks ‘deplorable’

POOR TURNOUT:Despite calls encouraging people to join demonstrations all across the world in support of the jailed WikiLeaks head, they drew only very small crowds

AFP, WASHINGTON

US President Barack Obama has offered his strongest condemnation yet of WikiLeaks’ “deplorable” documents dump, as defenders of the Web site’s founder denounced the rush to judgment against him.

The president made his comments in a call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, the White House said.

Obama “expressed his regrets for the deplorable action by Wiki-Leaks and the two leaders agreed that it will not influence or disrupt the close cooperation between the US and Turkey,” his office said.

The comments, and similar statements in a call Mexican President Felipe Calderon, were Obama’s most forceful yet against the Web site, whose steady leaking of a trove of secret US diplomatic cables has polarized opinion.

Obama’s call to Erdogan could be seen as an effort to soothe ruffled feathers in Turkey, a key regional US ally. Officials there, including the prime minister, have reacted badly to some of the information divulged by the documents.

Spanish online supporters of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange called on Saturday for worldwide demonstrations to press for his release from a London jail, where he is fighting possible extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations.

In a manifesto entitled For freedom, Say No to State -Terrorism, it demanded Assange’s release and “restoration of the WikiLeaks domain.”

“Given that no one has proved that Assange is guilty of the offenses he is accused of and that Wikileaks is not implicated in any of those,” the Web site also urged credit card giants Visa and MasterCard to rescind their decisions to cut off payments from the Web site’s supporters.

However, rallies in Madrid and Barcelona drew only about 400 people and similar protests in Amsterdam and various Latin American capitals drew even smaller crowds.

Assange is due to appear in a London court for a second time tomorrow after being arrested on a warrant issued by Sweden. Prosecutors there want to question him about two women’s allegations of rape and sexual molestation.

WikiLeaks insists the allegations are a politically motivated attempt to smear Assange in retaliation for the leak of 250,000 confidential US documents, believed to have been passed to WikiLeaks by a US Army private.

In the Netherlands, 75 people gathered in central Amsterdam to show their support for WikiLeaks, police spokesman Rob van der Veen said.

The Amsterdam rally was sponsored by the Dutch Pirates Party “to call for protection of freedom of the press” and “to express displeasure with the attempt to -silence” sites such as WikiLeaks.

In Mexico City, about 40 protestors demonstrated outside the British embassy, pasting signs that read “no to censorship” and “the Internet was born free” on its walls.

In Peru, about a dozen Assange supporters gathered peacefully outside the British embassy in Lima, where protestors stressed that the Assange’s values “affect us all.”

“Solidarity has no boundaries. Injustice is injustice in any part of the world,” protestor Jorge -Meneses, 22, said.

In Bogota, only about 15 people turned out for the demonstration there. A protest in Lisbon drew several dozen people, some of them carrying photos of Assange or signs calling for freedom of the Web.

Meanwhile, newly divulged US diplomatic cables revealed a row between the Vatican and Ireland over a child abuse inquiry.

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