German Article about the London City University Conference/Debate 9-30-2010 published by Zeit Online
Julian Assange Remains Silent Over Power Struggles
Note: Machine Translation with some editing
For the first time in a while, Julian Assange expressed himself. Yet as to the accusations of internal power struggles in WikiLeaks, he blocks each question.
The auditorium is full of curiosity, and also full of tension. Julian Assange will soon be present. The controversial and best-known head of WikiLeaks wished to engage in a discussion on transparency and security. Students and non-students were seated by 7 o’clock in the lecture hall of the London City University, some working on their laptops. And then after a long wait, Assange climbed the stairs to the podium in a brown leather jacket and no longer white but with brown hair and blond streaks in it. One might have mistaken him for a student.
“In this room, there are perhaps 300 people” he says, “but, in Afghanistan last year, 3,000 people died & This time it had to be presented in a graphic form, so many dead bodies in a room. With this, at once the bow is drawn between him, the WikiLeaks founder, the London University, and the war in Afghanistan. He wanted to fight with his investigative platform.
Then the opponent Times journalist David Aaronovitch came to the podium, saying that Wikileaks has now become so very important. But it does it not have to take responsibility for why, what and how much it publishes? The moderator of the dispute interjected: According to media reports, Icelandic supporters have ended their involvement wiith the organization because they considers it premature, to publish in October the next leak about the Iraq war. The material must be filtered of identifiable sources.
“Untrue”, answers Assange. Der Bericht sei Teil einer Schmutzkampagne, der Isländer nur einer von vielen Freiwilligen, die keine Einsicht in die Operation hätten. So geht es den ganzen Abend: Fragen zum Rücktritt von Daniel Domscheit-Berg alias Daniel Schmitt bügelt Assange ab. Daniel Schmitt hatte dem Nachrichtenmagazin Der Spiegel seinen Rücktritt damit erklärt, dass Julian Assange auf jede Kritik mit dem Vorwurf reagiert habe, er würde ihm den Gehorsam verweigern und sei dem Projekt gegenüber illoyal.
“Wrong,” answers Assange. The report was part of a smear campaign, the Icelanders were a few of many volunteers who had no insight into the operation. So it goes throughout the evening: Questions about the resignation of Daniel Domscheit-Berg alias Daniel Schmitt draws ire from Assange. Daniel Schmitt had told the news magazine Der Spiegel that his resignation was due to the fact that Julian Assange had reacted to any criticism with the accusation that he was refusing to obey him and be disloyal towards the project.
Assange: “Complete lie; Schmitt had been suspended a month ago for other reasons.” He made no more information available about it. Just kept his response to questions on the methodology used by WikiLeaks to process secret documents: “We do not want innocent people to be hurt, on the contrary” he said. The charges against him because of the harassment of a woman in Sweden? Sweden is a fascinating country, Period.
“industrial complex” “establish justice by creating transparency ” Wikileaks great mission, and his contempt for journalists The questions from the audience at Assange were numerous and critical, but after one and a half hours of discussion we really do not know everything. For example, is the rumor that WikiLeaks on 18 published October, almost 400,000 documents to the Iraq war? “I have nothing further to say about that.” replies Assange.
From Norwegian NRK Article
Note: Machine Translation, slightly edited
Wikileaks: Why we publish now
Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange met with reporters in London Thursday night. The organization has not published more than a simple CIA note since the massive release of documents on Afghanistan in July.
LONDON: Wikileaks’ spokesman Julian Assange believe that the new documents from Afghanistan are both ready to be released, and safe enough.
Today, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation as the first news organization in the world published the first stories based on the second round of Wikileaks leaks from Afghanistan. These are documents that they chose to hold back the last time they released thousands of secret-stamped reports from the international forces in Afghanistan.
The organization chose to hold back 15 000 documents on the basis of the specific content that needed a closer review.
Read all NRK cases of leaks
NRK met their spokesman Julian Assange in London on Thursday night to get him to comment on the leak. “It is mainly threat messages. This means that there is information from informants, people who help the international forces and intelligence agencies working in Afghanistan.” he said.
Among these sensitive intelligence documents are several threat reports on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. This report brings new light to investigations of the incident where the Norwegian journalist Carsten Thomassen was killed.
* Wikileaks was founded in December 2006 and is a site for leaked documents.
* In July 2010 allow the site to a database of 92,000 secret documents from the war in Afghanistan. The documents contain logs from the field and intelligence reports.
* The website refers to himself as “the people’s intelligence” and invites respondents from around the world to leak information anonymously.
* By Julian Assange, an Australian journalist and former hacker.
* In April 2010 Wikileaks released a video of an attack by a U.S. combat helicopter in Baghdad in Iraq in 2007. The attack killed civilians and two employees of Reuters news agency.
Behind the documents, as NRK Brennpunkt have access to is the organization Wikileaks, a somewhat secretive organization in which no one knows the names of the majority of the employees.
The face for the organization is Julian Assange. A man who has been in stormy weather after the Afghan Diary release during a stay in Sweden, as he was accused and investigated for rape and sexual harassment against two women.
Had to go through all during a panel discussion at the City University in London Thursday night. Here he Assange showed himself publicly for the first time after the allegations became known. The organization has not published more than a simple CIA note since the massive release of documents on Afghanistan in July,.
Recently, most news stories about WikiLeaks focused more on rape charges and internal disputes over release of secret documents. In a back room at London University, however, the WikiLeaks spokesman told NRK that they believe the next round of Afghan documents are now safe enough for publication after a painstaking review.
“When we released documents from Afghanistan last we held these back because we believed it was necessary to go through all the documents line by line. And then to scramble information so that it is safe to publish them. The process of going through all the material is now complete” said Assange to NRK. Media organizations will have time to look at the documents
The most common reason given for the organization to have held these back was regarding the material content. The documents contain reports of threats and movements of the enemy of the international forces. This information was obtained through intelligence and informants. It has been reported that the Taliban and other insurgent groups would soon want to put to death some informants for the international forces. Julian Assange believes that WikiLeaks can now see the finished review to protect them.
“Would you say you believe it is safe to drop all these 15,000 documents now?”
“Yes, we believe that the documents are reviewed and safe to drop.” Assange responded when he was confronted whether it really is safe to release the document flow.
Although WikiLeaks is now finished with the review and the securing of the material, they have not posted any new base of documents on their websites. Assange says that this is due to practical issues around how documents are to be released.
Among other things, it is so that WikiLeaks selected media outlets will have time to look at the material. The only thing holding back the release now is that we must be sure that the information is presentable, and that it is formatted so that it becomes understandable. In addition, media organizations have some time to look at the documents in search of journalistic affairs.
Mainly media hype
Assange and Wikileaks wants to cooperate with the media, but in the recent past there has been much negative press in the world of both him as a person and organization.
In addition to the rape case in Sweden has in recent weeks have been a lot of commotion concerning internal strife in WikiLeaks organization. Assange himself admited to NRK that there have been problems in the organization, but also believes that much of what has been in the press is actually not true.
“This is mainly a media hype from hostile minded media companies. It should nevertheless be said that WikiLeaks as an organization has gone through severe pressure and a significant growth period, and it has in the context been some problems internally” said Assange.
During the panel discussion at the City University was Assange repeatedly elaborated on what happened to the organization, and what this meant for the credibility that they are so dependent on when they open fronts. Among other things, several new questions about other WikiLeaks staff who have allegedly quit because of disagreements with the well-known spokesman.
“It’s an absolute lie that many people have left!” said Assange loudly from the stage when issues of departures came repeatedly from other panelists and audience.
Published chat log
NRK Assange moderated his tone slightly, but maintained that the most they were talking about is two workers in the recent past have left the organization. One person was suspended a month ago and has since quit. In addition, one person expressed a desire to leave, but it is still uncertain since it there has not been a proper request for it. Otherwise, all the others work on and continue the fight.
Assange’s diminishment of conflict is in stark contrast from the Wired Magazine story about how the former spokesman for the network in Germany, Daniel Schmidt left WikiLeaks. The magazine published the chat log from what would be the last conversation between the German spokesman and Assange. In this call an apparently infuriated Assange finally suspends Schmidt. Assange asked for the panel discussion in London readers worldwide to be critical of what they read.
“The media which comes with these stories can not be trusted. Readers should look at the history of the media who write this and look at what some journalists write. The journalists who write these stories have always had a bias” said Assange who apparently did not have much good to say for certain journalists and their writings.
Growing and getting better
The WikiLeaks spokesman responded to question after question in the light from the flash lights from journalists who had gathered at the scene in the university auditorium. Most questions were about the internal turmoil within the organization, if people can rely and the reliability of WikiLeaks as a source and about who really is behind them.
Yet there were questions about what’s going on, and Assange was optimistic.
“We change and grow with the increasing number of people who participate in the project, the greater financial resources and new mechanisms are needed for dealing with the work.” said Assange to reporters and was quick to emphasize that these changes were planned and were not due to internal strife.
According to the spokesman, they now deal with a large number of documents so extensive that they are actually not quite able to manage it. Assange said to NRK that this organizations are not strong enough to handle this alone.
- We do not have the strength to handle alone the huge amount of information we’re sitting on. That’s why we ask media organizations to be on the team along with human rights activists, academics and others.
In addition to internal problems and such large amounts of information that it almost becomes prohibitive, they’ll also encounter outside threats, according Assange. He believes to know that he is regarded as a spy by the officials in the U.S. ” The U.S. wants to prosecute me and others as spies. We know they are working to build a case with the goal.”