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"How can the great champion of open society be using our libel laws to challenge the press?" asked Cowley.

Assange™ tends to have a troubled relationship with mainstream journalists after any prolonged contact with them. Besides having broken with the Guardian – WikiLeaks' UK partner is now the Telegraph – the colourful internet impresario has previously been described as unkempt and smelly by New York Times scribes.

On the matter of the Afghan informants, Assange™ went on to state that "Wikileaks never got it wrong". He invited people pondering the matter to Google "Wikileaks" and "blood on its hands" versus "Pentagon" and "blood on its hands" and compare the number of results*.

The debate ended when Assange™ had to depart for Smith's mansion in order to avoid violating his bail terms. Further judicial decisions need to be made before his extradition to Sweden can become final.

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning remains in US military prison under a tough confinement regime facing a battery of charges which if proven seem likely to mean a lengthy sentence. Reportedly, US investigators have failed to discover proof that WikiLeaks' material was supplied illegally by him or anyone else: no US charges against WikiLeaks or Assange™ have yet been made.

The vexed question of when someone is a whistleblower as opposed to a spy or a traitor (or an insider seeking to manipulate the media for one's own ends) remained unsettled. Few attending the debate appeared to have grasped that Assange™ is none of these things but merely a publisher.

The Grauniad reports that it has heard nothing from Assange™'s lawyers and that a WikiLeaks spokesman, asked if he could shed any light on the supposed legal action, answered "not really".

There's more on the debate from the New Statesman here and here. ®

Bootnote

*As this is written, the WikiLeaks search gets 30,000-odd and the Pentagon one gets 125,000. In both cases the first page is made up of news reports and blog posts debating the issue of whether or not WikiLeaks has any blood on its hands.

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