2010-08-01 Julian Assange, monk of the online age who thrives on intellectual battle

From Issuepedia

<hide> <let name=data index=Date>2010-08-01</let> <let name=data index=Author>Carole Cadwalladr</let> <let name=data index=Source>guardian.co.uk</let> <let name=data index=Topics>\WikiLeaks\Afghanistan\mainstream media\Julian Assange\whistleblowing</let> <let name=data index=URL>http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/01/julian-assange-wikileaks-afghanistan</let> <let name=data index=Title>Julian Assange, monk of the online age who thrives on intellectual battle</let> <let name=data index=TitlePlain>Julian Assange, monk of the online age who thrives on intellectual battle</let>

<let name=data index=Text>

By last Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan had branded Assange "irresponsible". And by Friday, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, had accused him of "having blood on his hands". Their charge was that WikiLeaks has disclosed the names of Afghan collaborators who may now be subject to reprisals; that the information is unchecked; that some of it may be of dubious provenance, and that Assange seems to be accountable to no one.

Perhaps the most surprising and confusing aspect of all this is that Assange didn't leak the material. He was not the source for these files, he merely published them. Where once, the focus was on the whistleblower, it's now on the technological conduit by which the whistleblower can reach the world.

By the time I come to talk to Assange, his very last interview of the week, the backlash is in full swing. "Have you seen this?" he says waving a copy of the Times at me. "Have you seen how much bullshit this is? Have you seen page 13? Do you think I should call [the libel law firm] Carter-Ruck?

"It would be a bit silly for me but I'm tempted to. Just look at the headlines and the photo. What's the imputation?"

There's a photo of Assange below a headline that reads "'Taliban hitlist' row: WikiLeaks founder says he did right thing". And next to the photo, another headline reading "Named man is already dead." The imputation is quite clearly that Assange's actions have resulted in the man's death, although in the story itself it makes it clear that he actually died two years ago.

"Is it clear?" says Assange. "Let's see how much we have to read before we reach that information. It's not in the first paragraph, second, third, fourth, it's not in the fifth. It's not until the sixth paragraph you learn that."

Discussion:

<let name=data index=TextShort>“By last Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan had branded Assange "irresponsible". And by Friday, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, had accused him of "having blood on his hands". Their charge was that WikiLeaks has disclosed the names of Afghan collaborators who may now be subject to reprisals...”</let> </hide><if not flag=$including><let name=docat val=1 /><call ShowLinkData /></if>