Nobody knows where Julian Assange is, but several people have managed to find him.
Since the embassy cables began trickling out of WikiLeaks this Sunday, the organization’s at-large chief has granted at least two long interviews to the press. Assange has discussed the media, his own role as his organization’s face, American democracy and exceptionalism, and, in what amounts to a bit of an aside, called for Secretary of State Clinton’s resignation.
The first interview was an “exclusive” to Time magazine—an online Q&A via Skype with Richard Stengel available here in audio with a full transcript. And today, The Guardian has published Assange’s answers to reader questions. (An interview with Forbes’s Andy Greenberg published after the release was conducted weeks before.) Here are some highlights from Assange’s reflections on his latest, and ongoing, “megaleak.”
On the impact of the embassy cable leaks:
At this stage, we can only have a feeling for what the effect is based upon just looking at what the tips of the wave are doing, moving currents under the surface. There is simply too much volume for us to even be able to see. But I can see that there is a tremendous rearrangement of viewings about many different countries . And we can see the Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu coming out with a very interesting statement that leaders should speak in public like they do in private whenever they can. He believes that the result of this publication, which makes the sentiments of many privately held beliefs public, are promising a pretty good [indecipherable] will lead to some kind of increase in the peace process in the Middle East and particularly in relation to Iran.
We keep secret the identity of our sources and take great pains to do it. So secrecy is important for many things but shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses, which leads us to the question of who decides and who is responsible. It shouldn’t really be that people are thinking about, Should something be secret? I would rather it be thought, Who has a responsibility to keep certain things secret? And, Who has a responsibility to bring matters to the public? And those responsibilities fall on different players. And it is our responsibility to bring matters to the public.
In response to accusations that WikiLeaks’s releases endanger lives:
this sort of nonsense about lives being put in jeopardy is trotted out every time a big military or intelligence organization is exposed by the press. It’s nothing new, and it’s not an exclusively American phenomenon by any means. It goes back at least 50 years, and in extremely different forms hundreds of years before that, so that sort of reactionary sentiment is equally expected. We get that on nearly every post that we do. However, this organization in its four years of publishing history—we don’t need to speculate, it has a history—has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on.
On what WikiLeaks is and does:
This organization practices civil obedience, that is, we are an organization that tries to make the world more civil and act against abusive organizations that are pushing it in the opposite direction. As for the law, we have now in our four-year history had over 100 legal attacks of various kinds and have been victorious in all of those matters.