Amazon Tries, Fails to Defend WikiLeaks E-Book Hypocrisy
December 10, 2010
(ChattahBox Technology News)—Amazon.com is taking considerable heat for selling a Kindle e-book offering commentary on the stolen U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks, just days after the company threw Julian Assange’s rogue group off of its servers for illegal activity. The download by German author Heinz Duthel, entitled “WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies,” was reportedly removed by the author after the controversy, but now appears to be back in Amazon’s Kindle store. The e-book is promoted as containing, “All cables with tags from 1 5000,” but Amazon later added the disclaimer, “[DOES NOT CONTAIN TEXT OF CABLES]” after being criticized for hypocrisy. However, Duthel’s book does contain excerpts of the cables. So, how can Amazon explain this all away with a straight face? They can’t. And therein lies the problem with casting Julian Assange as a criminal, for leaking stolen documents that The New York Times and other highly regarded media outlets readily published. Welcome to the world of WikiLeaks hypocrisy.
Yes, this Australian citizen Julian Assange, Lex Luthor evil genius dude is certainly a creepy and dangerous anarchist. And he has set his sights on taking down America, one leak at a time. But can he be legally prosecuted for publishing the secret material, stolen by an American soldier? Probably not. But the United States is going to try.
So, Amazon has twisted itself into a pretzel to explain why it’s illegal to publish the stolen cables on its servers, but it’s OK to make a profit from selling a book that includes analysis of excerpts of those cables.
“This book contains commentary and analysis regarding recent WikiLeaks disclosures, not the original material disclosed via the WikiLeaks website,” Amazon wrote in a note on the product detail page.
Adds Amazon PR guy Drew Herdener, via email: “This book contains commentary and analysis regarding recent WikiLeaks disclosures, not the original material disclosed via the WikiLeaks website.”
Except that it does contain excerpts of the original material.
WikiLeaks also took aim at Amazon on its Twitter feed, writing that if Amazon was “so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.”
This is not the first time Amazon has been caught in a hypocritical quandary. The company had been selling a book that promoted pedophilia, entitled “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure. ” But the online retailer only removed the book from its website after a public outcry.