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Latest update : 2010-12-09

Cyber terrorist or modern-day hero?

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, albeit in a British jail, continues to rock the world of diplomacy. One commentator wonders whether he isn’t a neo-con tool, while a source in the Kremlin is reported as saying Assange should get the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s the focus in today’s international press review: THURSDAY 9TH DECEMBER 2010

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Papers worldwide are covering the specific angles on the latest Wikipedia leaks that affect them. In Australia, the interest is in who could be the US “protected” source there. In France, the attention is on revelations about African countries. The top story is the cyber war underway. The UK paper The Guardian headlines: “Cyber war erupts as WikiLeaks supporters join fray”. It opens its piece quoting a blogger saying: “this is the first great Cyber war”. It covers revenge attacks by pro-Wikileaks “hacktivists” on MasterCard and other sites that have recently made life difficult for WikiLeaks. The paper is one of the handful chosen to divulge US secret cables. A photo shows Assange supporters calling for “Justice for Julian”. He faces extradition from the UK to Sweden and possibly to the US after handing himself over to UK police.

In The International Herald Tribune, editorial writer Robert Wright asks: “Is Julian Assange a neocon tool?” Wright argues that the neo-conservatives influencing George W. Bush’s foreign policies often encouraged policies that threatened relations with Russia, Turkey, China, Iran and so on and this, he says, is the impact the Wikileaks revelations are having now. The IHT’s editorial writer says Assange himself is not important because if he wasn’t there, US diplomats would still have had to adapt to what he calls the age of transparency.

Carlo Rovelli in Cassis in southern France, writing to the Letters Page, agrees that this is about transparency, adding that “prosecuting Assange will enhance his credibility”. The activist, the letter writer says, is “a modern-day hero”.

That’s echoed in the Kremlin. A source there has told RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, that Assange should get the Nobel Peace Prize. Its report points out that Assange is currently top of on an online poll as TIME Person of the Year.

Talking of prizes for activists, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is on Friday and there will be an empty chair to mark the absence of China’s jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo. The Toronto Star’s Bill Schiller reporting from Beijing says that academics, lawyers and activists believe the award could be “a turning point” that could resuscitate the Chinese democracy movement. China has called for countries to boycott the ceremony. The Times of India leads that New Delhi is snubbing China. Its representative will be there in Oslo. Singapore’s Straits Times, meanwhile, headlines: “China sets up its own peace prize”. It is called the Confucius Peace Prize and the first one has been awarded to the former Taiwanese Vice-President Lien Chan for his efforts in building ties between China and Taiwan. It quotes Daniel Bell, author of “China’s New Confucianism”, saying: “the timing of this award seems too reactive”.

The New York Daily News reports the full version of John Lennon’s final interview is available in the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone spoke to Lennon three days before he was killed outside his New York flat 30 years ago. He spoke about his fear of becoming a “dead hero”. “Critics want dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean,” he said, “I’m not interested in being that”. With all the diplomatic wrangling and sabre-rattling at the moment, a global sing song of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Give Peace A Chance” would be welcome.

By Nicholas RUSHWORTH

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