Inter American Press Association (IAPA) reporters, editors and publishers will hear first-hand and discuss exactly what motivated Julian Assange to release secret diplomatic cables through Wikileaks, a Web site that as a source of information has gained as many followers as detractors.
Assange, director of Wikileaks, faces charges unconnected with the distribution of information and will take part in the IAPA General Assembly via teleconference. His presentation is scheduled for October 17 during a panel that will also discuss the role of the English paper News of the World, whose journalists and executives found themselves involved in a wiretapping scandal targeting celebrities and politicians which forced its owner, news media magnate Rupert Murdoch, to shut the paper down in July this year.
The 67th General Assembly, to be held at Lima’s Swiss hotel October 14-18, will be officially opened by Peru’s President Ollanta Humala. The meeting, one of two that the IAPA holds each year, has as its objective the evaluation of the status of press freedom and the preparation of action plans.
In addition to the legal ethical questions involved in the Assange and Murdoch cases other panels will focus on specific press freedom issues. Constitutional lawyers, among them Pedro Nikken and Asdrúbal Aguiar of Venezuela and Gregorio Badeni of Argentina, will discuss the trend in Latin America for governments to impose press laws that turn out to be a means of censorship.
In another roundtable former presidents Carlos Mesa of Bolivia and Alejandro Toledo of Peru will review the challenges facing freedom of the press and free speech in the Americas. The relationship between politicians, journalists and those in power will be the subject of a presentation by Wolfgang Donsbach, director of the Communication Institute of Dresden, Germany, while former IAPA president Danilo Arbilla will tackle the issue from the perspective of the press during a keynote speech.
During the five-day General Assembly there will also be four seminars on topics concerning the news industry and technology as well as the presentation ceremony of the IAPA awards for journalistic excellence.