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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: And Julian, one of the emails that WikiLeaks released of Stratfor of the vice president said that there was a secret indictment against you by the secret grand jury that we believe is convened in Alexandria, Virginia, that is going after you and other WikiLeaks volunteers. Do you know any more about this information or any confirmation that there is this sealed indictment against you?

JULIAN ASSANGE: There are some 3,000 emails in the Stratfor collection about me personally and many more thousands about WikiLeaks. The latest on the grand jury front is that the U.S. Department of Justice admits, as of about two weeks ago, that the investigation is ongoing. On September 28th this year, the Pentagon renewed its formal threats against us in relation to ongoing publishing but also, extremely seriously, in relation to ongoing, what they call, solicitation. So, that is asking sources publicly, you know, "Send us important material, and we will publish it." They say that that itself is a crime. So this is not simply a case about—that we received some information back in 2010 and have been publishing it and they say that that was the crime; the Pentagon is maintaining a line that WikiLeaks inherently, as an institution that tells military and government whistleblowers to step forward with information, is a crime, that we are—they allege we are criminal, moving forward.

Now, the new interpretation of the Espionage Act that the Pentagon is trying to hammer in to the legal system, and which the Department of Justice is complicit in, would mean the end of national security journalism in the United States, and not only the United States, because the Pentagon is trying to apply this extraterritorially. Why would it be the end of national security journalism? Because the interpretation is that if any document that the U.S. government claims to be classified is given to a journalist, who then makes any part of it public, that journalist has committed espionage, and the person who gave them the material has committed the crime, communicating with the enemy. And we released other material about a young Air Force woman who was suspected of communicating with us, and they went to internally prosecute her under 104-D, which is communications with the enemy. So, who’s the enemy? Well, the enemy is either WikiLeaks, formally an enemy of the United States, or the interpretation is that any time that there is a communication to the public—and we saw this in the Bradley Manning case—there is a chance for al-Qaeda or the Russians or Iran to read it; therefore, any communication to a journalist is communication to the public, is communication to al-Qaeda, which means that any communication to a journalist is communicating to the enemy. Now, it’s absurd overreach, but it is an overreach now which has been put into practice, not at the conviction level yet, but certainly at the investigative and prosecution level. Barack Obama brags publicly on his campaign website of having prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined, in fact, more than twice that of all previous presidents combined.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Julian, on that particular note, I’d like to ask you to, if you can, talk about what you consider to be the long-term impact of WikiLeaks, that as governments continually centralize through the digital revolution their information, it makes it more possible for dissidents or whistleblowers within the structures of these governments to make that information available to broader sectors of the public. And if WikiLeaks—if the governments are able to squash WikiLeaks, how do you see that movement developing in terms of other organizations that are arising that continue the kind of work that you’ve been doing?

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