WikiLeaks Preparing to Release Video of Alleged U.S. 'Massacre' in Afghanistan
Iceland Votes for Strong Journalist and Whistleblower Protection Laws
By MEGAN CHUCHMACH
June 18, 2010—
As the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks remains underground in fear that the U.S. will detain him, the site is preparing to release a leaked video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan that is said to be more shocking than the Iraqi video that sent its controversial leader into hiding.
Julian Assange, who has been garnering more attention since it was announced that Pentagon investigators are looking for him, told his supporters in an email this week that he has a classified video of a U.S. attack on Afghan civilians.
In an interview airing today on "Brian Ross Investigates," a weekly investigative news magazine show airing on ABC News Now and Hulu.com, a member of the Icelandic Parliament who has worked closely with Assange said the Afghan video is expected to be released shortly.
"Hopefully very soon," Birgitta Jonsdottir told ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, "but for security reasons we choose not to give the exact timing of when we will actually publish it."
Reports of the incident surfaced in late May 2009. In an ABC News report, a short clip of the video was shown. Centcom issued a report in June 2009 saying that at least 78 Taliban fighters were killed and approximately 26 civilians, although "no one will ever be able conclusively to determine the number of civilian casualties."
Jonsdottir said she is in contact with Assange daily but would not disclose his location.
Assange was scheduled to speak on a panel about confidential sources at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Las Vegas this past weekend but did not show. He has been communicating through Twitter.
He went into hiding after posting a video titled "Collateral Murder" on the WikiLeaks site, which shows U.S. Army helicopter gunships firing on a group of Iraqis, who included children and two members of the Reuters news organization, in 2007.
Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist from Maryland, has been detained in Kuwait in the case for allegedly leaking the video.
Assange is part of a movement called the Iceland Modern Media Initiative that seeks to enact strong media laws to protect journalists and government whistleblowers.
This week, the Icelandic parliament unanimously passed legislation that will strengthen free speech laws and protect journalists from foreign libel judgments and protect government insiders who leak information.
Jonsdottir said the goal is "to create a safe haven for, in particular, investigative journalists in Iceland, but also for& strengthening source protection and whistleblower protection for other countries."