Julian Assange of Wikileaks: why he published the documents
Julian Paul Assange, founder of the Wikileaks site which on Sunday released nearly 92,000 documents relating to the conduct of the U.S. war in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2010, was profiled in the New Yorker in June. Above, he explains "why he decided to publish thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan," according to a video posted to YouTube by The Guardian.
Other videos above show him discussing other national security leaks the site has helped make public. Some background on Assange and his site, from the New Yorker story:
Assange is an international trafficker, of sorts. He and his colleagues collect documents and imagery that governments and other institutions regard as confidential and publish them on a Web site called WikiLeaks.org. Since it went online, three and a half years ago, the site has published an extensive catalogue of secret material, ranging from the Standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantánamo Bay, and the "Climategate" e-mails from the University of East Anglia, in England, to the contents of Sarah Palin's private Yahoo account. The catalogue is especially remarkable because WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency. It has no paid staff, no copiers, no desks, no office. Assange does not even have a home. He travels from country to country, staying with supporters, or friends of friends--as he once put it to me, "I'm living in airports these days." He is the operation's prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site's complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time. Key members are known only by initials--M, for instance--even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services. The secretiveness stems from the belief that a populist intelligence operation with virtually no resources, designed to publicize information that powerful institutions do not want public, will have serious adversaries....
WikiLeaks maintains its content on more than twenty servers around the world and on hundreds of domain names. (Expenses are paid by donations, and a few independent well-wishers also run "mirror sites" in support.) Assange calls the site "an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis," and a government or company that wanted to remove content from WikiLeaks would have to practically dismantle the Internet itself.
• The Washington Post's May report "WikiLeaks works to expose government secrets, but Web site's sources are a mystery."
• A mid-June Spy Talk report that Assange was "in hiding, fearful of arrest," following reports that an Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, had transferred a huge volume of classified files to Wikileaks and that Assange was being sought in connection with the leak.
• Assange's reemergence and surprise appearance at the TED conference in mid-July to "defend Wikileaks" (video).
| July 26, 2010; 11:34 AM ET
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