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Journalists pledge support for WikiLeaks

Journalists from around the world have signed a letter of support for whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks.

In the open letter, signatories from 38 countries expressed their support for the site's founder, maverick Australian journalist Julian Assange.

Hacks from countries as diverse as Russia, Namibia, Israel and Indonesia were brought together together with colleagues from Europe and North America to defend the site's record, via the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

The journalists praise WikiLeaks for making, "an outstanding contribution to transparency and accountability on the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars", and condemn news outlets around the world that have accused the site of endangering lives with its publication of secret US military documents concerning the war in Iraq.

The letter does, however admit that there had been "legitimate" criticism of WikiLeaks for not vetting its Afghan dossier carefully enough to remove the names of informants and others.

"Fortunately," the letter adds, "there is no evidence that anyone has been injured or killed as a result."

The later Iraq dossier, which contained 391,000 documents, was outed last month. It provides evidence that the US turned a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses by Iraqi security forces, including the abduction and torture of prisoners.

"We believe Wikileaks had the right to post confidential military documents because it was in the interest of the public to know what was happening," says the letter.

"The documents show evidence that the US Government has misled the public about activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and that war crimes may have been committed."