Assange: WikiLeaks has same values as Jefferson
In interview with CBS Assange describes WikiLeaks as a team of ‘free press activists’
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is unlikely to have done his reputation in America much good after he compared his values to those of the Founding Fathers in his first major TV interview, shown on CBS on Sunday night.
The journalist, who is currently on bail in England and faces extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, told interviewer Steve Kroft that his organisation was made up of "free press activists" whose mission it was to spread information.
He also warned that if his site was shut down or forced to close then there would be a massive leak of hitherto unseen documents.
Assange is under criminal investigation in the US after WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables. Many of them, including the infamous video 'collateral murder', were supposedly passed to the website by US Army private Bradley Manning, who is still being held in solitary confinement.
In the past Assange has said he fears being kidnapped by America and executed but in the interview with 60 Minutes he said he was not anti-American. He told Kroft: "Our founding values are those of the US revolution. They are those of people like [Thomas] Jefferson and [James] Madison.
"It's not about saving the whales. It's about giving people the information they need to support whaling or not support whaling," the Australian explained. "That is the raw ingredients that is needed to make a just and civil society. And without that you're just sailing in the dark."
When asked if WikiLeaks had a series of documents that could incriminate the Bank of America, Assange refused to deny the rumour. He said: "I think it's great that we have all these banks squirming."
Apparently Kroft recorded more than six hours of interviews, which were condensed down to around half-an-hour. But most commentators on the internet felt that the WikiLeaks chief got the better of the exchanges, and were impressed by his cool and calm demeanour.
Assange watchers will get another insight into his life on Tuesday when the Guardian publishes its biography of the Australian. The book is written by investigative journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding who worked with Assange as part of the WikiLeaks deal with the newspaper.
The Guardian promises "a story from the inside that reads like a thriller" complete with tales of how Assange would dress as a woman to avoid the CIA. ·
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