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Global_18

Arena Big Interview place to provide for legal action against states that engage in it. Anything less than this is a sign that it is not being taken seriously. Of course, this is at the level of states. Law is one thing and it is useful, but states will only follow the law to a point. At the individual and the organisational levels, we need to get everyone using the best encryption and secure communications technologies. And we need to modify the internet’s basic infrastructure to build in privacy by default, as Tim Berners-Lee has been arguing. Some have called the Collateral Murder site “pure editorial”. Do you think that WikiLeaks has lost sight of its goal of disseminating knowledge among the people in favour of propagating its own views? It is false that the Collateral Murder site is “pure editorial”. There are two videos on the site. One is the full, original footage. It is over 45 minutes long. The other is a shortened version of the video with minimal editing. So minimal, in fact, that the first ten minutes, where all the killing takes place, is one continuous take, because we knew we’d have to defend the publication against such accusations. Anyone unhappy with our edit has – from the beginning – been free to watch the longer video and come to their own conclusions. If the site was “pure editorial” we wouldn’t have done that. We also did a lot of investigative work on the 2007 incident depicted in the video, which provides the context on the Collateral Murder site. We sent a WikiLeaks investigative team to Baghdad, and they verified the time and the place of the incident, and interviewed the families of some of the victims of the attack, and took photographs and documentary footage of the two children of the van driver who was killed, Saleh Mutashar. Their names are Sayyad and Duoha. In one of the photographs, Sayyad shows the scars he still has from the near fatal injuries he sustained when the US Apache helicopter fired on a van with two innocent children in it. This is all important context for the video and it is based on facts and photographs, concerning real people. The argument can be made that WikiLeaks took a particular perspective on the event depicted in the video. We were interested in showing the civilian casualties of the incident, in showing their faces and their stories and their wounds. We took the perspective that when a US Apache helicopter, over an urban centre, fires 30mm cannons indiscriminately into a large group of people, including Other news organisations take a different perspective – they believe we should presume that the killing of over a dozen people, including two Reuters employees, was justified two Reuters employees, and all of those people die, the people who did the killing should have to endure scrutiny. Other news organisations take a different perspective – they believe we should presume that the killing of over a dozen people, including two Reuters employees, was justified and that, if anyone, the victims should be scrutinised, so that we can find reasons to excuse the killers. The objective for the Western press is to get the Western killers off the hook. They believe that the lethal actions of the US military in an urban centre during an illegal occupation should be given every benefit of the doubt, and that when civilians Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he lives in a converted office Cancillería Ecuador Creative Commons by SA 2.0 are blown up or torn apart they should be written off as “collateral damage”. Even the names and quantity of dead civilians are supposed to be unimportant to us. That is the perspective of most large Western news organisations. It is almost invisible, because they all sing from the same sheet. But those are their priorities and they are reflected consistently in their work. We don’t share that perspective. How have you spent your time in the Ecuadorian Embassy? What is your regular day like and is it difficult to spend your days in a sort of isolation? There is a perception – especially among some of my critics – that my life in the embassy has been sedentary and lonely. Sometimes I wish it were true – I would be glad of the rest – but there has never been a time in my life when it has been so widely known that I am in a single identifiable place, in one of the world’s biggest urban centres. The building is surrounded by millions of pounds per year of surveillance and UK police. A lot of people visit me. I am not in isolation like that. Neither am I idle. My normal days are spent working flat out from beginning to end. I work weekends and most of the nights. There used to be a time when I had a life away from my work and I could switch between them. For years now, though, my work has been my life. In a way, the permanence and security of the setting has allowed me to concentrate on some aspects of WikiLeaks work. This does not diminish the effects of living in a small, indoor space on a timescale measured in years. I have to take regular exercise and am glad of company. The embassy staff have been very kind to me. I have a great regard for them. Have you watched the film The Fifth Estate? What would you urge people to bear in mind when watching it? What I would like people to bear in mind when watching it can be found in our memo on the film, which we released along with the full leaked script. It can be found at wikileaks.org/wikileaksdreamworks memo#about. I said at the time that this multi-million dollar attack on our reputation would be doomed to box-office failure. The film is fiction based on books by our opponents. We campaigned against it and sure enough it set a record – as the biggest Hollywood flop of 2013. global second quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 39


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