Finally the US President Barack Obama has come out of hiding regarding WikiLeaks’s latest leaks. President Obama offered his strongest condemnation yet of WikiLeaks’ “deplorable” documents dump.
At the same time, calls for worldwide demonstrations to support the site’s founder drew only tiny crowds.
The US President made his comments in a call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday, the White House said.
Mr Obama “expressed his regrets for the deplorable action by WikiLeaks, and the two leaders agreed that it would not influence or disrupt the close co-operation between the United States and Turkey”, his office said.
The comments, echoed in a call to his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon, were Mr Obama’s most forceful yet against the website, whose steady leaking of a trove of secret US diplomatic cables has polarised opinion.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as the face of US diplomacy, has so far been the one to respond to the leaks, and has been responsible for most of the mop-up with world leaders.
Mr Obama’s call to Mr 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 information divulged by the documents.
Spanish online supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called yesterday for worldwide demonstrations to press for his release from a London jail where he is fighting possible extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations.
A manifesto titled “For freedom, Say No to State Terrorism”, demanded Mr Assange’s release and “restoration of the WikiLeaks domain”.
The website also urged credit card giants Visa and Mastercard to rescind their decisions to cut off payments from the website’s supporters, “given that no one has proved that Assange is guilty of the offences he is accused of and that WikiLeaks is not implicated in any of those”.
But rallies in Madrid and Barcelona drew only about 400 people, while elsewhere the crowds were even more disappointing.
In The Netherlands, 75 people gathered in central Amsterdam to show their support for WikiLeaks, police 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 protesters demonstrated outside the British embassy, pasting signs that read “no to censorship” and “the internet was born free” on its walls.
In Lima, about a dozen Assange supporters gathered peacefully outside the British embassy. “Solidarity has no boundaries. Injustice is injustice in any part of the world,” said protester Jorge Meneses, 22.
In Bogota, only about 15 people turned out, while a protest in Lisbon drew several dozen people.
Dutch police arrested a 19-year-old at the weekend on suspicion of hacking the website of the national prosecutor.