WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reportedly threatened to sue the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival if it didn’t pull the documentary titled “WikiLeaks: Secrets and Lies” from its lineup earlier this year, citing privacy violations. The More4 show, created by independent British production firm Oxford Film & Television, tracked the history of the organisation and featured interviews with Assange and individuals who have worked with him.
On Tuesday (today) it was revealed that Assange threatened legal action against the film festival in an attempt to pressure it not to show the documentary at all. Assange called the episode libellous and unfair. In fact, The Guardian says he sent a tersely-worded email titled “LETTER BEFORE ACTION” to festival organisers, as well as a similar one to CNBC.
Here’s an excerpt of the email, which carried Assange’s signature:
Please also send me full details of SXSW’s formal complaints procedure. This latter request is made without prejudice to any subsequent legal action I may take against SXSW for the screening of this libellous programme.
The 41-year-old also claimed in the email that Oxford Film & Television was “under investigation by the UK statutory regulator Ofcom for multiple breaches of the Broadcasting Code”. It didn’t work. SXSW aired the feature film version as planned on March 9 and CNBC showed a shortened version in the US on March 1.
Furthermore, UK communications watchdog Ofcom rejected Assange’s complaints about the program on Monday, according to The Independent. While Ofcom did in fact launch an investigation, it ruled yesterday that the Wikileaks founder was wrong.
Assange responded to the Ofcom ruling in a lengthy statement on the WikiLeaks website last night, which you can read for yourself here: The public relations state: full details of WikiLeaks & Assange Ofcom complaint over “WikiLeaks: Secrets & Lies”. After criticizing the whole fiasco, he concluded with:
WikiLeaks is now releasing the full unedited transcript of Julian Assange’s interview for the programme – as well as all other materials submitted for Ofcom’s adjudication – so that the public may judge for themselves the lengths to which the programme makers went to produce a biased and one-sided smear documentary to suit the agenda of their unofficial co-production partners, the Guardian newspaper, and Ofcom’s lack of independence from those it supposedly regulates.
Assange is currently staying at Ecuador’s Embassy in Britain. He fled there on June 19 in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is facing allegations of sex crimes. The Australian citizen denies assaulting two women in Stockholm in August 2010, insisting the sex was consensual.
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