WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave a revealing interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning.
Speaking from the mansion in south east England that he is forced to stay at under the terms of his bail (or “Hi-tech house arrest”, as he described it in the interview), Assange discussed what WikiLeaks had achieved and how he sees himself. It appears he views himself as a martyr and is still perfectly happy with himself and the actions he’s taken following his recent jail time.
Here are some choice quotes from the interview:
On what WikiLeaks has achieved:
“Already we see that we have changed governments, we have certainly changed many political figures in governments, we have caused new law reform efforts, we have caused police investigations into the abuses we’ve exposed, UN investigations.”
On suggestions that ‘Cablegate’ is mainly nothing but simply gossip:
“When the head of state or an ambassador is reporting what you call to be tittle-tattle, it is no longer tittle-tattle. It is either very dangerous poisonous political gossip or it is the truth…”
On suggestions that some of the Cables were highly dangerous to release:
“None of it is dangerous. Vastly more detailed things have been released by the United States government itself. By Congress, for example, who a year and a half ago released a list of all US nuclear sites”.
Assange says the leaks have not been obtained illegally.
“Revealing illegal behaviour is, in most countries, not illegal. We are a publisher. We accept information from whistleblowers. We vet it, we analyse it and we publish it; that’s what we do.”
Assange on his view of himself:
“Everyone would like to be a messianic figure without dying… I had time to perceive myself a bit more in solitary confinement. I was perfectly happy with myself… I felt quite at peace. The world has a lot of problems that need to be reformed and we only live once.”
Also during the interview, Assange discussed the allegations of sexual misconduct by two women in Sweden that led to his arrest. He accused the Swedish prosecution team of “Deliberately, illegally and selectively taking bits of its material and giving them to newspapers… That is an abuse of power.”
Assange said he believes that the case against him will be exposed as false and it will eventually be “helpful” to the WikiLeaks cause as it will show people that there is a conspiracy against him. “People will start to see what is really going on.”
Perhaps the most revealing quote of all came towards the end of the interview where he appears to cast himself as “A martyr without dying”.
“You are in a very beneficial position if you can be martyred without dying and we’ve had a little bit of that over the past ten days, and if this goes on we’ll have more.”
That’s a slightly different view of himself than the one he apparently published on dating site Plenty of Fish some time ago. It seems that whatever happens next to Assange, he’ll be happy with what he’s achieved.
If you’re in the UK (or an ex-pat with the right software) you can listen to the interview for the next seven days here.