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Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, walks out of CNN interview (Video)

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke at a press conference after WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 documents that give a grim snapshot of the Iraq war. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

It was the Weekend of the Wikileaks, with the whistle-blower Web site releasing nearly 400,000 classified documents, detailing the history of the Iraq war through the reports of the soldiers.

The face of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been heavily promoting the disclosure, appearing at press conferences and interviews, and speaking in an online chat with The Washington Post.

However, his international moment in the spotlight has been tarnished by reports from former WikiLeaks activists. A Post story says that the activists are painting WikiLeaks as "an organization that is out of control, still too driven by the personality and ego of its mercurial founder, Julian Assange."

He has also been dogged by allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden. Assange denies the charges and says it is part of an American-led campaign to ruin his reputation.

"Assange moves like a haunted man," the New York Times says in a profile that ran Sunday. "What emerged was a picture of the founder of WikiLeaks as its prime innovator and charismatic force but as someone whose growing celebrity has been matched by an increasingly dictatorial, eccentric and capricious style."

In an interview with CNN, Assange says he is the "lightening rod" for WikiLeaks -- he takes the bad press to deflect it from the Web site, but he also gets an outsized amount of gratitude.

Assange says his detractors are either conspirators of the government or unsatisfied employees, just like there are unsatisfied employees at any corporations.

However, many news reports note his discomfort on being pressed for any further information about the possible internal turmoil at WikiLeaks. In a CNN interview this weekend, Assange pulled a Joy Behar and walked off the set of the interview.

Jena McGregor writes for the Post's On Leadership, "Even if questions about his personal life weren't germane to the interview (and given his accusations against the U.S. government, they are), Ms. Shubert's questions about whether or not he is eclipsing the Wikileaks revelations were fair. A leader's job is to promote and defend the organization's work, yes. But that is best done behind the scenes rather than by making one themselves."

Watch the video of the interview and then let us know: Did Assange do the right thing? Should he not be expected to answer questions about the rape allegations and the turmoil with WikiLeaks? Or are those valid questions?

By Melissa Bell  | October 25, 2010; 8:35 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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It's interesting that a guy so devoted to transparency and who criticizes news organizations over how they do their job would walk out of an interview. I think it's a pretty fair line of questioning, directly related to his own accusations of the US trying to discredit him personally.

Ultimately, whether he raped a woman isn't as important as the information that his organization has collected and published (although I'm sure to her, it's the most important thing there is, and I'm not passing judgment on how Wikileaks operates). But it's still fair game in an interview.

Posted by: tomsing | October 25, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Coverage of these elements of the story is a tawdry distraction from the truth revealed in the WikiLeaks files. Please rise above paparazzi journalism.

Posted by: rtrochester | October 25, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

On principle, the man deserves a round of applause as it is high time the Americans were forced to face their own evildoing just as the Germans were force marched past the piles of corpses at the KZ camps. What gives me pause is that Mr. Assange has yet to go after the real perpetrators of the evil-doing---Wall Street.The same Wall Street that buys the politicians their elections and then in a quid pro quid has the same politicians send off young Americans to destroy countries in the quest for resources, while leaving many of them maimed for life or dead, while passing off the debt to China and to cripple future generations of Americans while taking all the profit for themselves. Wall Street bankers are like the "Undead" have to drive a stake through their heart to make sure they do not continue their evil. So what about it, Mr. Assange?

Posted by: nosurprises | October 25, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

How is this still going on? His website is not a whistle-blower, it is sedition and possibly treason. Assange, his co-workers and anyone who delivered classified documents to them should be arrested and prosecuted. If any of the documents came from congress or the white house, the guilty parties should be removed from office immediately, with no retirement or other benefits, and be banned from public service for life. Then they should be prosecuted as enemies of the state.

Posted by: pat34lee | October 25, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not disputing whether there were illegal actions against innocent people by the US and British military to any extent...things like that unfortunately have been a part of war. It is pretty tragic to say the least.

But what seems so unnecessary and dangerous against our military, Assange's hand in any of this is beyond an outrage.

Assange seems to be a peevish, smug, snivelling creep who perhaps has no respect for Americans in the first place.
And to have walked out over questions about rape allegations and then later trivialize it on Larry King is kind of sociopathic. I think there should be a serious investigation on this guy and his ilk involved in the wiki leaks. In short: Pathetic Creep.

Posted by: djeanniemeyer | October 25, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

for you to compare rape to anything else that's "bad" or horrific is pathetic. i won't wish that you get raped, but if you were to be raped, i don't think feel as bad for you as i would for other rape victims and victims of war. d bag.

Posted by: djeanniemeyer | October 25, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

@djeanniemeyer That attack on tomsing is grossly unfair. There are LOTS worse things that can happen than being raped, you can recover from a personal violation, or not. You won't recover from a 25mm cannon round through your skull-period. And Tomsing is right- a murky molestation accusation in Sweden is hardly in the same league with war crimes. Get your priorities and your manners straight.

Posted by: ball3991 | October 25, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

He could have handled it better, e.g., "I have been instructed by counsel not to discuss this, let's move on." But having said that, yes, he was correct. He warned her off several times and she persisted. He kept saying he wouldn't answer the question, and her response was, "OK, then let me ask you . . . " And then she would just repeat the question. At some point, he had to do something.

The interviewer was actually pretty bad. Very inartful. It was almost like she was in intern or something.

Posted by: anon99 | October 25, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

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