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Julian Assange on Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and the Emerging Surveillance State

Assange gave Amy Goodman a rare interview.

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AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying, Julian, that you would go to Sweden, if they assured you that you wouldn’t be extradited to the United States, to answer questions about these two women who have made charges on sex abuse on your count?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes, that has been our public position for quite a long time.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Julian, I’d like to get back to your book for a second and talk about, at this crossroads, as you see it, in terms of the future of the internet, the importance that you see of cryptography as a weapon of the people on the internet.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, the development of cryptography is absolutely fascinating. So, we’re not just talking anymore about people being able to write in a secret code that other people can’t read except their intended recipient. Crytography, as a science, in the last 30 years, has developed a basic—basic techniques that we would normally associate with democratic civilization and moved it into the digital realm. So that includes things like anonymous electronic cash and digital voting and signatures and proofs of agreements between people.

So, when we look at what happens when civilization moves onto the internet, how is it controlled? At the moment, a lot of the problems we face on the internet and the independence of the internet is guys with guns can simply turn up to any internet server and tell the people there to behave in a certain way, just like they do with oil wells or they do with customs. So, as an international new civilization, a forum where people are intellectually expressing themselves, where we deposit our history and our political ideals and ambitions, the internet is suffering, on one hand, from mass interception and, on the other hand, that it is still in many ways subservient to the physical force in the various states that its infrastructure is located in. Cryptography provides a way to abstract away from the physical world to create a sort of mathematical barrier between the physical world and the intellectual world, and in that way slowly declare independence from nation states. So our intellectual world cannot simply be censored or deleted or taxed in the manner which we have suffered from for so long in nation states.

Now, the internet—on the internet, there’s no direct physical force that needs to be policed in that manner, so we don’t need armies on the internet. We don’t need policemen on the internet, in a way that we may need them in our regular nation states. So, we do have this opportunity, with careful use of cryptography and a movement behind it, to achieve some forms of independence for the intellectual record and for our communications with one another. And those aspects of cryptography, we have used, with varying degrees of success, in WikiLeaks to publish material that no other publisher in the world was able to publish because they were constrained by physical threats within particular nation states.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, we are talking to you on the day that Bradley Manning is expected to testify, be heard publicly for the first time in over two years at Fort Meade. His lawyer has said he would plead guilty to certain charges, and that is releasing documents that he got in Iraq on the computer to your organization WikiLeaks, but refused to plead to others, like aiding the enemy. Talk about Bradley Manning, and then talk also—if you could weave that into why you’re so concerned about being extradited to the United States.

 
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