STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) — Julian Assange's visit in the Swedish capital achieved several things. Assange will be writing for Aftonbladet and WikiLeaks will be applying for full source protection under Swedish constitutional law.
Assange already works with the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der
Spiegel. But he's not yet worked as a columnist for any publication.
Starting now that will change.
Assange met Aftonbladet's editor in chief Jan Helin yesterday.
'It's no coincidence that I'm going to be writing for a Swedish paper.
The Swedish publicist culture and Swedish law have supported us from the
beginning', said Assange.
Aftonbladet Interview Transcript
'What will you write about?'
'About press issues and about what's happening around the world. There might be some scoops.'
'Does this mean Aftonbladet will work together with WikiLeaks?'
'We're not going to rule that out.'
'Why work with the media in this way?'
'We promise our sources maximum exposure of their materials.'
'How often will you be writing?'
'Once a month.'
'You've been under a lot of pressure from the Pentagon and the White House.'
'Yes, unbelievable pressure. The White House tried rhetorical tricks
and spread lies on the sly about us. Journalists have to be more on
their guard about what's said about us. But we also got a lot of
'Have you been threatened?'
'Yes. The US defence department made three demands. That we destroy
all materials we've published on Afghanistan, that we destroy all other
materials we've not yet published, and that if we don't obey, they'll
force us to do it.'
'Force you? How?
'They didn't say.'
'But WikiLeaks won't back down?'
'Of course not. We don't accept such threats. We'll continue our mission. The Pentagon's demands must be emphatically rejected.'
'What does the future look like?'
'We need more money. We're getting more materials than we can handle
today. We need to hire more help. We've received $1 million in donations
so far this year but it's not enough.'
Sweden Important for WikiLeaks
Sweden is important for WikiLeaks. The country has an industry for a
new type of refugee: journalists and publicists, says Julian Assange.
'Swedes should be proud of their protection of freedom of the press.'
Assange is aware of foreign minister Carl Bildt's claim there are no
ongoing formal discussions with the the US on the subject of WikiLeaks
but he's aware of informal discussions taking place in other countries -
it's 'standard procedure', he says.
'I assume informal contacts have been established in Sweden. But we'll have to wait a bit longer for proof', he says.
WikiLeaks are actively soliciting this information from contacts within
the Swedish government. 'We have people in Sweden currently working on
it', Assange says.
WikiLeaks will be applying for a Swedish certificate of publication ('utgivningsbevis')
next week to guarantee that the organisation will be protected by
Swedish constitutional law, even though they've already been offered
such protection from two Swedish publications. This Swedish
constitutional protection increases support for WikiLeaks, says Assange.
'But we're dealing with organisations that don't obey the law - we're dealing with intelligence agencies', says Assange.
WiliLeaks plan to release a further 15,000 documents hopefully in the
coming fortnight. 'We have a responsibility to get this out into the
world and to the Afghan people.' Assange is convinced Sweden and the US
are working together to try to stop the coming leaks - Sweden plays a
big part in their distribution.
As to a closer collaboration with Sweden: 'I don't know how much closer we can get', says Assange.
Responsibility to the Afghan People
'We have a responsibility to the Afghan people', says Assange, 'where
hundreds of people are killed each week. We should be able to publish
again in a fortnight if we can keep working at the same tempo.'
'We publish raw materials without analysis or interpretation. Then it's
up to journalists, researchers, and the public to review them.'
For that reason WikiLeaks now launch a website to help 'translate' materials: Diary Dig.
See AlsoPlease support independent media:
Metro: Sverige viktigt för WikiLeaks
SvD: WikiLeaks ansöker om svenskt utgivarbevis
Aftonbladet: WikiLeaks grundare klar för Aftonbladet