WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Blames The Guardian For Leaking Names of U.S. Informants
"The Guardian was negligent, our trust was violated," says Assange in first industry appearance since house arrest.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lashed out at U.K. newspaper The Guardian, blaming it for last week's release of some 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, complete with the names of thousands of U.S. informants living in oppressive regimes.
"The Guardian was negligent in its behavior," Assange said, speaking via satellite to o Berlin's Medienwoche conference. "The Guardian newspaper revealed the entire encryption password, including the part they were specifically told not to write down. The individual concerned is The Guardian's investigations editor."
While other news outlets fared scarcely better, with former media-partners The New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel also being derided, with the latter being accused of biased and uncritical reporting, Assange insisted that WikiLeaks still cooperated with a vast network of traditional outlets worldwide.
Assange came out swinging in his first industry appearance since his arrest late last year. In his international keynote speech to Berlin's Medienwoche he attacked Washington, the hidden agendas of mainstream media outlets and attempts by governments to dismantle his whistle-blowing website.
"Over the last year, which to us has been the best of times and the worst of times, [...] we have seen substantial attacks on the organization," Assange said, adding that the mainstream media has also fed the fire against WikiLeaks. "We often hear claims by media organizations that they have no agenda. Of course, we know that to be false. We can immediately dispose with the false moralizing done by media organizations and simply say that they are there to make money."
Speaking via satellite from the U.K., where he is under house arrest, the controversial former hacker said WikiLeaks should be seen "in the context of the real power dynamics in the world." As an example he cited Visa’s practice of blocking any attempt to make donations to WikiLeaks.
"Nearly everyone in the audience has a visa card in their pocket. You have an instrument of Washington in your pocket," Assange said.
On the topic of OpenLeaks, the website founded by former WikiLeaks speaker Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange showed unbridled derision: “It has never published anything. It is not in operation,” he said, refusing to even utter the name of his competitor’s website, instead speaking of “dark business occurring in Germany” and people attaining prominence simply by attacking WikiLeaks.
But Assange defended his own whistle-blower site, saying that while "inherent within publication there are risks. It is important for organizations to take risks and demonstrate a willingness to fight for justice at large and on an individual level. I promised the sources that they would remain anonymous and that we would publish – and publish with impact. That promise has been met,” going on to say that “Every diplomatic correspondence is a potentially unjust act.”
As for WikiLeaks’ user-interface, which allowed users to submit documents, but has been down for a number of months, Assange explained: “We take submissions through a number of mechanisms. That particular part of received submissions through the front door is not [currently] open to the public. Our profile is so high that having an open front door would lead to a deluge.”
Assange remains under house arrest in the U.K., pending possible extradition to Sweden, where he faces charges relating to two sexual assault cases.