Earlier this week, I wrote about the case of two Zimbabwean generals who may face treason charges for comments about their superiors made in a confidential conversation with the U.S. ambassador, and whose names were subsequently revealed in last month's unredacted WikiLeaks dump.
That case still seems to be pending, but there's been another troubling development in Ethiopia, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists:
U.S. diplomatic cables disclosed last month by WikiLeaks cited an Ethiopian journalist by name and referred to his unnamed government source, forcing the journalist to flee the country after police interrogated him over the source's identity, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. It is the first instance CPJ has confirmed in which a citation in one of the cables has caused direct repercussions for a journalist.
On September 5 and 6, officials from Ethiopia's Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) summoned journalist Argaw Ashine to their offices in the capital, Addis Ababa, with his press accreditation, Ashine told CPJ on Tuesday. He was summoned because he had been cited in an October 26, 2009, cable from the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia regarding purported GCAO plans in 2009 to silence the now-defunct Addis Neger, then the country's leading independent newspaper, local journalists said.
On September 8, Ashine was summoned again, this time by police, who interrogated him and gave him 24 hours to either reveal the identity of his source at the GCAO office or face unspecified consequences, the journalist told CPJ. Ashine fled Ethiopia over the weekend. He has requested that his current location not be disclosed for safety reasons.
Given that a central tenet of WikiLeaks' model is protecting the identity of its sources, it seems pretty tough to defend the exposing of a journalist in an authoritarian country, even if it embarasses the U.S. government in the process.
The Christian Science Monitor also reports (via the essential twitter source for all things WikiLeaks Trevor Timm) that, so far at least, Chinese sources named in the cable don't seem to be suffering consequences:
Two weeks after WikiLeaks posted unredacted versions of a quarter of a million U.S. diplomatic cables, revealing the names of American embassies’ local contacts around the world, there are no signs of repercussions for Chinese sources, according to people who have themselves been “outed.”
“Nothing has happened to me, yet, and I have not heard of anyone else getting into trouble,” says Wang Zhenyu, a Beijing lawyer who says he has often met U.S. diplomats to discuss the progress of legal reform in China and whose name was meant to have been “strictly protected” according to a cable that quotes him.
“I don’t think I’ll have any problem from the government, though some ordinary people do not understand," adds Wang Xiaodong, an outspoken nationalist ideologue with a large following on the Web, who also shared his insights with American diplomats, according to the leaked cables.
Update: Another piece from the Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon notes that while there have been no legal consequences, the response from China's nationalist internet has been furious:
Some of China’s top academics and human rights activists are being attacked as “rats” and “spies” after their names were revealed as U.S. Embassy sources in the unredacted WikiLeaks cables that have now been posted online.
The release of the previously protected names has sparked an online witch-hunt by Chinese nationalist groups, with some advocating violence against those now known to have met with U.S. Embassy staff. “When the time comes, they should be arrested and killed,” reads one typical posting on a prominent neo-Maoist website.
The repercussions could indeed be dire in some circumstances, particularly for Tibetan and Uighur activists exposed as having passed information to Washington. In other cases – including some Communist Party officials named as “protected” or “strictly protected” sources – the fallout is more likely to be embarrassment or perhaps lost promotions.
We'll continue to track the fallout for the sources in the days ahead.
Two Zimbabwean generals may face treason charges for comments made to U.S. ambassador Charles Ray in a 2010 meeting that has now been made public by WikiLeaks:
There are now reports that the two will face retribution for their disclosures to the Americans, including possible treason charges. According to South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper, which quoted military sources, the top brass of the defence forces are contemplating the court martial of the generals.
"It is a very difficult situation. Some top army commanders see this as a tale of traitors, betrayal and treachery and hence they want a swift response," a senior commander in the military is quoted as saying. "In the army, once you do such things, they charge you with treason and you will be court-martialed."
The cable in question, based on conversations with the officers, describes Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) as a "political general" with "little practical military experience or expertise.. The generals also say that the senior generals of the ZDF are "so entwined with [President Robert Mugabe's] ZANU-PF party as to be practically indistinguishable," frustrating those who want to build it into a professional military force.
The cable also notes that the two "took a grave personal risk meeting with us, and their identities should be strictly protected." With thousands of cables including the unredacted names of sources now floating around online, there will likely be more officials facing the consequences for what they told U.S. diplomats in confidence.
(HT: Michael Clemens)
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe may be suffering from prostate cancer.
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150 NATO flights cross into Pakistani airspace each day.
Singaporean journalists claim they're restricted from reporting bad news about the government.
Even more revelations about Thailand's royal family.
China wanted to invest in U.S. banks during the 2008 financial meltdown.
Vladimir Putin's beef with Estonia.
Saudi Arabia wants the United States to give it Predator drones to use in Yemen.
Israeli military official: "We don't do Gandhi very well."
Robert Mugabe has reportedly been badly shaken by the WikiLeaks revelations.
Has WikiLeaks lost its mojo now that the State Department cables are all out?
Assange accuses the Guardian of "negligence" for its role in the inadvertent release of the unredacted State Department cables.
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Mayawati, the chief minister of India's Uttar Pradesh state, is known as the de facto political leader of the traditionally marginalized Dalit caste. Unfortunately, she's also known for doing things like spending hundreds of milions of dollars in state funds to build giant statues of herself and apearing in public wearing giant garlands made of cash (shown above). This week she's in the news for some comments directed at M. Assange in response to a negative cable about her:
"The owner of Wikileaks has gone mad or he has joined hands with our opposition parties to malign my government," Ms Mayawati told a press conference broadcast live on Indian television.
"I request the government of his country to send him to a mental asylum and in case they are all full, I will make space for him in the mental asylum in [the city of] Agra," she said.
She also said he had "an anti-Dalit mindset".
Looking at the cable in question, dated Oct. 23, 2008, it's not hard to see why Mayawati is upset:
She has become a virtual paranoid dictator replete with food tasters and a security entourage to rival a head of state. Civil servants will not speak to the press for fear of losing their positions. Journalists admitted they feared retribution should they print anything negative about Mayawati. One journalist claimed that all civil servants' and most journalists' phones are tapped.
There's also this anecdote of Imelda Marcos-like behavior:
Mayawati's full majority victory in May 2007 UP State Assembly elections left her beholden to no one and has allowed her to act on her eccentricities, whims and insecurities. When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand.
What's interesting is that Mayawati is directing her anger at WikiLeaks rather than the U.S. officials who actually made the comments about her. Is she alleging that Assange is just making up the cables, or does she just think he's a softer target?
They're all here now.
U.N. peacekeepers traded food for sex with underage girls in Ivory Coast.
Rwanda's police defend extra-judicial killings.
Private oilfield security companies in Sudan are "essentially a militia controlled by the government."
The miserable lives of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's mining industry.
Nigeria's oil-drenched Niger River Delta is even worse than you thought.
Imprisoned U.S. government contractor Alan P. Gross is not doing well in Havana.
Oh great, the world is running out of helium, too.
Former U.S. Ambassador (and current presidential hopeful) John Huntsman: China's one-child policy causes instability and sex-trafficking.
The politics of Wal-Mart's trade unions in China.
U.S. embassy staff in Belarus are accused of espionage by the state media.
Bad blood in the European aerospace business.
Why Greeks don't like the United States.
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham in November 2008, "I can deliver two thirds of the Israeli right-wing on anything we agree with the Palestinians, whether on process or interim agreements."
Armenian President Robert Kocharian in a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "[W]e both must work to find ways to live together in harmony."
Are telecom providers in the United Arab Emirates installing spyware on BlackBerries?
A Syrian governor invited Shakira and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to a hot-air balloon competition.
The deluge. WikiLeaks blames (and sues) the Guardian. The Guardian blames WikiLeaks. The U.S. State Department calls the action "irresponsible, reckless, and frankly dangerous." Der Spiegel explains what exactly happened.
Julian Assange could face arrest in Australia for outing intelligence officials in the new batch of unredacted cables.
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How WikiLeaks learned the value of secrecy the hard way.
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Meet the Coast Guard officer who serves as a back-channel emissary to Havana.
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The collapse of the Venezuelan opposition.
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Another day, another WikiLeaks e-book, this one by a British journalist who seems to have been a bit too into Julian Assange.
Russian intelligence services used dirty tricks to intimidate American democracy-promotion NGO workers.
U.S. embassy officials in Damascus asked the Bush and Obama administrations to sanction Syria, to no avail.
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THE BIG PICTURE
What WikiLeaks has in common with Rupert Murdoch.
A graphic novel tells the story of WikiLeaks (in Italian).
BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images