Transcript of interview with Julian Assange, founder and lead figure of WikiLeaks
At the Oslo Freedom Forum – 2010
April 26. 2010
Location: Grand Hotel
Interviewer: Hans Lysglimt, journalist (www.twitter.com/lysglimt)
Email: hans at runbox.com
Publisher of Farmann Magazine, Oslo Norway
YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/farmanntv
Click on video image to open it in large format in Vimeo:
(Hans Lysglimt left, Julian Assange right)
WIKILEAKS – WHO IS JULIAN ASSANGE?
On April 26. 2010 Julian Assange was invited to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum (http://www.oslofreedomforum.com), an annual human rights conference in Oslo arranged by human rights activist Thor Halvorssen. Yours truly, (publisher of Farmann Magazine www.farmann.no) – Hans Lysglimt caught up with Assange for coffee leading into an engaging discussion about Wikileaks, its future and its threats along with insight into what motivates the person Julian Assange. We wanted to share this conversation and therefore set up this spontaneous interview with a handheld video camera right there at the coffee table.
Transcript of the interview:
Hans Lysglimt: It is April. 26. 2010 we are here at the Oslo Freedom Forum and I am with Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist. You are in WikiLeaks, tell us about WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange: WikiLeaks in an international public service. It helps people who have suppressed information to get it out to the public where it can do some good.
The way we help people is to advance cryptographic techniques, through the legal system, and through political defence.
Then once that important information has is public, we keep it public. That is also a quite difficult thing because of legal attacks and illegal attacks that are made by governments and corporations when you try to get something out that may achieve reform.
HL: You have chosen to locate in Sweden?
JA: We have stuff everywhere. But we deliberately port our inceptions of material take in through Sweden pass in on to Belgium and then to another country. And the reason is that Sweden under the Swedish press freedom act has grants the rights of anonymity. Similarly Belgium as of 2005 has introduced communications laws that protect the communication between the journalist and their source. So we deliberately pick up those two protections that can really protect sources by pushing information through Sweden and Belgium. We have used this not just to stop seizure of our servers or records in Sweden or Belgium but to also prevent investigations occurring in other countries. We did this successfully early in 2009 with a case in South Africa with our documents being public relating to cartels developing in South Africa.
HL: These threats to WikiLeaks and towards people that are working in WikiLeaks, they are very much real aren’t they?
JA: Yes, they are real. There has been more than 100 attempts, legal attempts, to attack us. Some of them quite serious, all of which over we have succeeded successfully with help from our friends. There have been some illegal attacks, some attacks on our HMS servers that we have successfully dealt with. There have been surveillance efforts. In Kenya there has been quite serious attacks on people who where related to us.
HL: Viewers of farmanntv (Our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/farmanntv) will know we support Wikileaks very much and what you do, please update us.
JA: The work that we have done have lead to the removal of the Kenyan government, its replacement. The has lead to the resignations of the chief of Defence of Denmark. It has lead to the resignation of the prime minister of Tanzania. These are concrete outcomes.
To some degree WikiLeaks is a force for a free press. A force for a true and free press. We publish the material which is in the greatest need of a free press. Material witch other people can not publish.
We are a sort of publisher of last resort for journalist as well as for society.
That is something that is new. We have never really seen a free press before that has managed to stay up for more than a small period. We have seen a lot of benefits of reforms that have coming about by having a free press. There is no place in the world that is suffering presently form to much of a free press. There is debate about how free the press should be.
There is nowhere in the world that is suffering from having to free a press.
HL: The ideology behind WikiLeaks is to enable transparency, or is there more of a though behind it than that?
JA: There is. Our goal is justice. Our goal is to have a just civilization. That is sort of a personal motivating goal. And the message is transparency.
It is important not to confuse the message with the goal. Nonetheless we believe that it is an excellent message. Gaining justice with transparency. It is a good way of doing that, it is also a good way of not making to many mistakes.
We have a trans-political ideology, it is not right it is not left it is about understanding. Before you can give any advice, any program about how to deal with the world, how to put the civil into civilization. How to gain influence on people. Before you can have that program, first you have to understand what is actually going on. How does the world actually work. How do human civilisation and institutions actually work. What are they doing? Because, any remedy must be based on what is actually happening in practice. Because, if it is not based on what is actually happening it is based on some kind of fantasy. And therefore any program or recommendation, any political ideology that comes out of that misunderstanding will itself be a misunderstanding.
So, we say, to some degree all political ideologies are currently bankrupt. Because they do not have the raw ingredient they need to address the world. The raw ingredient to understand what is actually happening
HL: Are you then an anarchic sort of organization? Do you subscribe to the modern democratic progressive nation state?
JA: Really, you know, our belief is more fundamental. It does not matter what your ideology is. It can not go anywhere good unless you know what is actually going on. If you are trying to sail to a destination and you do not have a map you can not get there. You will be adrift in the political landscape. The drifting hypocrite. The first thing for any political ideology is to understand what is actually going on. And then maybe you have a hope of getting there, of charting the course. But you got to have the map first. We want to draw the map.
We do have some good information, in our intellectual sphere we do have some good information about science. How the weather is, how to construct, the woods, how to grow a forest. We do have some good information. But that part of the intellectual sphere is already well maintained. There are economic forces behind maintaining it, it is easy to maintain.
There is another part of economic history that has ever really been in the historical record.
Because there are economic forces trying to get rid of it. Trying to not get it in the historical record in the first place. And that is all the information about how organizations work, that is not in the historical record because there is a economic interest concealing it. We see that this concealing works. That effort that goes into concealing some types of information is a economic signal. Giving off the signal, saying this information is important. It will do something if it leaks, that’s why people work to restrain it. Because those individuals who know it best, the people who have authored it, they perceive that its going to change something, so we preferentially go after this sort of information, because we can see this signal it gives off and because other sorts of information already have economic incentives to keep them around and get them into the historical record, this sort of information doesn’t and it can achieve reform. So both in terms of our long term ideological view, that civilisation needs good information for good decisions to happen, and in our short term view that you can achieve quick fast cheap just reforms by going after that type particular type of information over other types. This is a good way to behave. It is a good safe project. So even if our long term views does not pan out, that individuals and civilisations needs accurate information to manage their lives, even if that is distracted or that never eventuates. We know that in the short term, every week, we are achieving important domain reforms.
HL: In a sense you are manifesting the possibility of the Internet in its truest form. A lot of what has been going on since the Internet was released has been experimentation in free speech, but you are sort of boiling it down to the essence.
JA: We have drawn a line in the sand.
JA: And, no other group yet has drawn that line. And we have done it consistently.
When we publish something we will never un-publish it. We will fight will all the tools at our disposal, technical, political, legal to make sure the material remains up and published. Any material of political importance or ethical or diplomatic or historical relevance, that is our criteria, that is suppressed we will accept. That is our line in the sand that we have consistently enforced. And previously no one have been able to enforce that. So, this is, yes part of this revolutionary ideal.
It seems to be working.
HL: It is an honorable job that has been done so far. Looking at it in the kind of long term perspective that your are drawing up now. When society and the political structures adjusts to this, a process that might take generations, we have the outline here for a different kind of society really.
JA: I hope so. We have seen that by being the free press vanguard, by drawing this line in the sand, by placing our selves and our defences there we are opening up the spaces for everyone else to hide. We are now the status quo in that we have been publishing for 3 ½ years consistently and managed to keep ourselves up. Although we are certainly the free press vanguard, we are a vanguard that has been able to keep itself in our position. So everyone who publishes less aggressively, is normal. We have created that space behind us, and we are changing the view about what is normal and correct publishing. So that is something really very nice to enable media publishing for every other media organization or every other group, anyone who does publishing. But the work is still a long way from being done, many other groups are being attacked legally and illegally every day and their material is being removed. But for those people who are intent on defending this material we have shown it can be done. We also providing market disincentives, in that we, one of our promises is that if there is material of political ethical historical relevance, if someone else publishes it and it is attacked – we will republish it and the fact that we publish it will draw extra attention to the material. That provides strong market disincentive for attacking the original publisher of the material. And we have done that successfully in many cases, but especially in the UK where the press regime is really quite bad. There are 300 secret gag orders in the UK, there is injunction on the press where not only can the press not to mention something, but the press can not mention that they can not mention that there is the injunction on them. Sort of Orwellian.
The other point I would like to raise is, as you mentioned, on bringing freedom of speech to the Internet.
The Internet by itself does not by itself give you freedom. The Internet makes publishing cheap. It does not give any extra freedom, that freedom is something you bring to the Internet – and you can – bring it to the Internet, and that is very important, you can actually do that because the publishing cost is cheap. But to some degree Internet publishing is very censorship favorable. In 1954 when Stalin died the head of the KGB, Beria was still out of favor. In the encyclopedia of the Soviet Union there was a section on Beria that the soviet government wanted gone. So they posted out to all the libraries a replacement page for Beria which was an expanded section on the Bearing Straight, but this was very obvious – you could even peel off the sheet. But now we have seen these cases in the UK where even a paper like The Guardian who is a non profit organization run by a trust who’s duty is to guard the body of politics in the UK, and does actually have a history of fighting quite important legal cases, removes from its archive permanently and secretly information that litigious billionaires in the UK do not want. And once those articles are removed, and it is not just The Guardian, it is a whole range of papers and media including the BBC, once that information is removed and you go to the proposed web pages you just see page not found you do not find that the page has been removed after a legal assault. If you go to the indexes, there is nothing there in the indexes either. So the information has not just disappeared, it has ceased to have ever have existed. This obeys all our Orwell’s dictum’s of he who controls the present IE. The Guardian Internet service, controls the past. A historical archive, a historical publication, 5 years ago (snaps fingers) it was gone. If you control the present, you control the past because the past is recorded information that sits in the present.
HL: And if you control the present, you control the future.
JA: That’s right. If you control the present, you control history and then you control all the decisions that are made based on history. What I said before is that political parties, philosophies, all limited by what is our intellectual heritage. What is the historical record. If you control the historical record, you are in control, you control what decisions can be made. If you do not know about something, you can not make an accurate decision. So that is extremely worrying, that in fact the Internet is the easiest thing in the world to control. When that article is removed from the Guardian, it is gone.
HL: Quite right
JA: And even if there are copies, The Guardian still prints some of it’s stuff. Still prints physical paper. It is in the library but no one ever checks the library because they look on the website and if it is not there, people assume that it never was. They assume that these indexes are accurate, but they’re not accurate. It is not just the UK, it is Google, it is Blogger, it is Worldpress, it is all over the place people have been censored, and they do not reveal that they are censored. The reason that they do not reveal that they are censored is because it reveals to the readership that it has been been betrayed. The newspaper does not want to show to it’s readers that it is betraying it’s readers in this fundamental way. It makes the newspaper look weak to other people who might legally attack it and it gives an example that you can get rid of information by attacking. For all those reasons it tries to keep the censorship secret. So the censorship is being self censored. And the other reason is that often there’s a legal argument that you will only encourage people to go to the library and look at the article if you mention that it was taken down. And therefore, you contribute to whatever the offense was. So if the argument is that the material was libelous. They are very rarely used. The libelous is usually just a made up threat to try and get rid of stuff. But if the argument is saying that it was libelous and then the newspaper says we removed this because we received a legal threat about libelous then the lawyers for the plaintiff, the people who are trying to get rid of article, who argue that by revealing the censorship attempts, you are encouraging people to go to the library and look at the libelous and you are not even allowed to do that. A friend of mine Martin Brite, political editor of the New Statesman until a year ago lost his job over mentioning in a blog post the names of five Guardian articles that had disappeared. Just the names of the articles.
HL: This analogy with Orwell and 1984 naturally comes to mind. If Orwell had written in WikiLeaks into 1984, in that world, WikiLeaks is removed somehow. They have been able to suppress information like WikiLeaks and what WikiLeaks tries to do. You are implying that we are now preparing for an epic struggle against leviathan to try to shut WikiLeaks down. How would they try to do that? How do we make sure that WikiLeaks can never be shut down?
JA: Well, we have a lot of supporters in different countries. I mean people who believe in liberty, who believe in justice or people who want to see corrupt governments suffer. It is sort of the three basic psychological types that support us. How can people stop it when they see a attacks on us. Complain. Do whatever you can in your particular area. Money is always helpful, the most flexible of any instrument. Bring us leaked materials that are of really high significance, because we keep pushing these out. Not only does that courageous action inspire other people, it shows that our type of organization has a influence on the world and that people support and want to share in it.
Another very interesting and somewhat disturbing thing that is happening is harmonization of censorship between east and west. First, whenever nation states interact on a continual basis, if their legal regimes are slightly different, their laws are different, they start to collide. That is where you get international law from. This very basic notion that ships at sea pass on the left. This basic notion is international law that means that there’s not as much friction between international interaction. But this harmonization at sea is now happening in banking, insurance and is starting to happen on the Internet. Those harmonizations of laws are happening in various countries.
So what does that mean for freedom of speech?
We are going to get harmonization. Question is; is it going to be the walls of China, is it going to be the Swedish press freedom act? Is it going to be something like the First Amendment? Is it going to be sort of privatized censorship where governments put private corporations into it? Is it going to be an Internet full of black lists? Centralized blacklisting of Internet sites that China is of course famous for, but Germany has just passed legislation to do and there are efforts to setup EU wide centralized blacklist filtering. Australian government has passed through one of its houses laws to do that. There are voluntary schemes in the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands to do that. Voluntary at the ISP level, not at each individual person, but at the ISP level. Will those schemes become mandatory? That is the push in the EU. So that harmonization process is very dangerous, it is going to go one way or another, within the next few years. So we should all try and push for it to be like the good part, the harmonization towards the good and protective laws, the union of these good and protective laws. Instead of the union of these bad laws that China and other countries have.
Iceland have proposed laws like the Modern Media Initiative, that is sort of pushing the other way to try and pull together those good laws around the world, to make that a model. Individual nation states can try and upgrade their laws to more libertine laws, more protective of the rights of sources and journalists and publishers and the public.
HL: But the harmonization is inevitable?
JA: The harmonization I think is inevitable, the only question is what will it be.
HL: As long as we are not harmonized, there is an opportunity to sort of slip between the gaps right, slip between the laws and the structures – WikiLeaks is using that in Sweden and Belgium.
Still you think that even China and the US, potential adversaries, will eventually harmonize?
JA: They have already done some harmonization, some aspects of intellectual property or patent law, that is a type of harmonization that is occurring. Harmonization of what rights people have to publish their information, and strong economic incentives to do that. Whenever those laws are different there is arbitrage opportunity one nation state will complain that another nation state is sort of exploiting the difference between these two.
So they will harmonize, the only question is to what.
HL: As long as they are not harmonized of course everyone working for these principles should use the fact that they are not harmonized.
JA: You know, they can harmonize to the best laws, that is perfectly possible. That is what WikiLeaks is at the moment, by placing servers in different countries. As to our publishing operations, our source protection operation, we are doing that harmonization ourselves internally where we take the best laws of many countries and give them to everyone.
We are able to do that by having this multi jurisdictional publishing network, but that can also be done with law. Countries can harmonize up instead of harmonizing down, they can harmonize to the best of breed the strongest protection. They do not need to harmonize down.
Witch way this goes is dependent of peoples support, where the incentives are where the lobby pressures are.
It is really interesting at the moment because this is all in the air, all really is all in the air.
HL: And WikiLeaks gives an incentive to harmonize upwards, as long as it can not be stopped.
What are the threats to WikiLeaks?
JA: The threat at the moment, is sort of death by a thousands cuts. It is expensive running all of this, expenses protecting ourselves against legal attacks, that we however manage to do successfully . But there is a cost. Also, as an organization grows there is also
scaling problems, in this we are a victim of our own success. We are receiving a wast number of extremely important documents and videos but we do not have the resources to go through them. That pains us terribly because the promise that we give to our sources is that we will try to not only protect them but we will try to maximise the impact of their material so that their effort have not gone to waste. So every day that we sit on material, delay publishing, is to some degree a betrayal of that promise that we make our sources.
We get a lot of material, and we only have a finite number of people, finite number of resources so we can not publish as fast as we are receiving material. And that means that our reform impact is being limited. Although It is still very good, but it is being limited by the inability to get material through as fast as we like.
We have therefore asked ourselves, what if we just instantly published everything?
We did some early experiments on this line. The problem is that the bad drives out the good. You permit false material, or junk, or people republishing something that has already been published before. If you put all this in the same bowl with really significant documents like a manual exposing billions of dollars worth of corruption, tens of billions of dollars of money laundering, money shuffling by Barclay’s bank. If you put just random information in the same bowl, it means that the strong material has no impact.
So really you do need to actually go through this and say, yes this is a genuine document, or we checked this out and it is important. That’s how we manage to have an important impact by giving some authority to this material.
HL: There are imposter’s trying to look like WikiLeaks. How do the individual make sure that what they are viewing is really WikiLeaks, for the long run?
JA: That is hard.
We have the main domain WikiLeaks.org, but it is possible they take down the domain name, we also have many other domain names.
This is an interesting problem in cryptography. How do you verify that someone is who they say that they are even though their Internet address might change. At the moment the solution is sort of social. At the very moment the answer is easy, you go to Wikileaks.org that is us. Unless we one day lose that domain name. There was an attack in 2008 by a Swiss banks, we lost that domain name for 10 days, they did not put up a different one, we managed to put down that case. We have tendrals and networks, if your search around enough of them are going to point our ways.
Our cryptographics are a little bit harder to break, it would require some special fabrication.
HL: On cryptography, that we were just on, making sure that future generations know that the WikilLeaks material is the genuine.
JA: Yes. How do you name something, when I say the US First Amendment you know what i am talking about approximately. Now you may not be able to remember all the text, but you know you can go somewhere and look this all up, but then how do you know it’s the real First Amendment ? Well, in practice, you know that this text is spread pretty far and wide in many different things so each source provides a consistency check for the other one. So we are able to talk about this conversation without quoting the whole paragraph, the whole sentence. But what if you have a longer document and, you have a name for it, its not spread too far its only in a couple libraries and then someone changes something to it. Let us imagine that it is the First Amendment but there’s only two books with it in and someone changes one but then someone changes the other the same way.
JA: And now we discuss this first amendment and you say it is like this, and I go, no that sounds strange not quite what I remember let us go check the books and then we see this modified version.
We will be the victim of he who control the present control the past, control the past anf you control the future.
In this case the interpretation of the First Amendment of course its actually spread everywhere so that does not happen but for new stuff that is just coming out, the new documents with relevancy in our case new leaks that are really important documents that may change a whole government. How do we insure they are consistently named and not changed as they are copied say to numerous sites or a really really important document restructured to avoid being defeated in lawsuits.
Let us imagine the worst came to the worst and there is a totalitarian move across the world, a war, with or without nuclear weapons, some kind of war. How do we keep that sort of consistency with the name of something and its full representation?
With cryptography there is a way to do that, a natural way to do that which is called the hash cycle. You can take a string of information any sort of information from one sentence to a paragraph to a whole book to a whole movie and you can sort of crunch it all down, squish it all down till you’re just left with 32 characters. These 32 characters are inextricably bound up with the precise books paragraph movie whatever sequence of information you have, anything that you can transmit over the Internet its bound up and has important properties, If you modify this in any way, even change a letter, this will also change and if you have this sort of reference to this bit of information there is no other. You can not deliberately make some other type information, some other movie that corresponds to this number.
(A 10 minute conversation on the intricate details of this cryptographic technique is omitted here, it is avaliable on the video.)
HL: Lets round up by going back to the kind of people that Wikileaks are exposing, like politicians. What is your view on the politician? Is he a prisoner of his circumstances? Not all of them are necessarily evil right, even tough the do evil things?
JL: Obama is a good example. Obama has two things that he considers as values, that he believes are virtues. Number one is compromise. Not as a means but as an end, that is an inherent virtue to balance the political forces around. And there is some argument for this, that this is what a politician should be doing. Not taking sides, just balancing the power. Remember what is politics, in its essence about? It is about allowing transfers of power without bloodshed. This is where it all comes from. It is where the first Parliament came from. When you sort this out in Parliament you do not have to go to war with each other. So when you see bailing in Parliament you should also understands its success, witch is, its basic success is stopping people killing each other when one groups starts to get more powerful. So Obama believes that is a virtue, an end goal.
And he is concerned with some, within the United States, some inner quality issues.
To me it seems those are the only two things he considers an end goals. And the first one I think is a mistake, it is making the method the goal. Just like WikiLeaks, our goal is justice our method is transparency. But we do not confuse the goal and the method. To Obama, goal is compromise, I would rather say his goal should be justice and his method should be compromise.
But even if you do not have this idea that compromise is a virtue, you are limited in your ability to act as a politician by the forces that are around you. So we, everyone, an industry an individual shape what an politician can do by shaping the environment that is around them. And if you have a purely compromising politician, like Obama, then they are completely shaped by the forces that are around them. Push a little bit more here, you get a different response from the politician.
So we work by releasing information which either exposes some abuse that causes democratic outrage, widespread democratic outrage, and then a push from the people a push from the demos. Or what I found actually more interesting and possibly more important is revealing information that causes the increase in power in one group over another. That causes a group to sort of fall in on it self.
I should explain some of that. In Kenya in 2007 we got a hold of something called the Crowe report, witch was a secret report produced by a UK private intelligence organization Crowe paid for by the Kenyan government to investigate where all the money went from the previous Kenyan government. They paid probably around 3 million dollars to produce this and some other reports. The stated intent was that they be released to the public. They were not released. Instead the Kibaki government kept this report which revealed extensive money laundering and looting of state funds and used it as leverage, used it as a stick to get legal concessions, then allow Moi, the previous president the wealthiest man in Kenya to walk away.
When we released it, yes there was political outrage from the demos, from the people, and yes that did have an effect on the election. But, I think something else had a greater effect, and that is that all the people named in that report started to see that the other people named in that report where getting more than they thought they where getting when they were cutting up the money. And that one had traded with another and so on, and they all saw what the bank accounts were, and where all the money went. So they all fell in on themselves, and all become incredibly paranoid about who had been talking to the investigator and so on.
They are also, at the same time, trying to run for a national election, and it was impossible to stop their money disappearing and fight with each other and run a national election. So they all lost. All the five politicians named in that report lost, and Kibaki who had been president who had just gone into alliance with the previous president general Amoi, he also lost the popular vote.
I have seen that happen with a number of organizations.
Who is the actual audience of the material that we release? Is it the general public? Is it actually the organization that it comes from? The sort of dissenters of that organization? The whole organization can become incredibly paranoid. If it is a closed secretive organization and information starts leaking out, it can become incredibly paranoid about who is doing some of this on the inside. No one trust insides anymore in the organization, they stop communication, with each other, they don’t trust their telephone lines, they don’t trust their computers.
It can not think anymore as a group or as an organization. It can no longer out think its competitors.
Many of these organizations, be they political parties be they conspiratorial groups of criminals or be they business are only just in equilibrium with their competitions and because they are acting in away that is often inhuman or corrupt or criminal they have lots of opponents, so if you cause them to sort of collapse as an organization, to not be able to communicate with each other internally, to become paranoid and fall in on themselves. Then they are no longer competitive as an organization compared to all those organizations that are more open than their opponents. So the power of these organizations start to shrink. And the market gap is then taken up by the more open organization that does not have the problem of secrecy.
So that is a really nice outcome.
The other one that is related to that is that competing organizations can sometimes directly use that information when you have competing political parties information leaked out or where you have competing businesses, information about business practices, leaked out. Or when you have competing states, and information about the behaviour of the intelligence organizations of one who is reviled it to the public. The public may not care about it but the competing national states may care a great deal about it.
HL: I have to ask you about privacy.
What is your view on private matters, personal, digital privacy?
JA: When I am asked this question the important place to start is looking at our publishing record. Because we have a 3 1/2 year publishing record now. We have published an enormous amount of information. There is no allegation that anything we have ever published have harmed any one, anyone that should not have been harmed. People have lost their jobs, including a prime minister, defence chiefs, politicians have lots their jobs, but those are people that we broadly accept should have lost their job. Otherwise there has been no allegations that anyone has come to harm.
In a couple of case we have done a harm minimization process. For example the British National Party, witch is a far right, literally in its origins a Neo Nazi party in the UK. Very controverisal, interesting in its some ways witch is another story, they had a secret membership list of around 13 000 together with in some cases why the the member was secret, because they where in the police force. The police force does not allow BNP members because it was a whites only party, or it was a whites only party up until recently, and it has a Constitution along these lines, so if a police officers agreeing to this Constitution they inherently are agreeing to evict all non whites from the UK. That means they probably can not, as a police officer, fairly dispatch the law against whites and non white. That is the argument. I am not sure I completely agree with that argument, but anyway that is the argument that is made. And that is why the BNP wants to keep that information about its members secret. Because if that came out they would be fired. So before we released the list we wrote to them all, and said we were going to release the list.
HL: Wrote to all of them?
JA: Yes, taking our precautions, witch where unique.
Of course, we did not not release the list. But we took steps, not perfect steps, but reasonable steps to minimize the harm. And there was no harm otherwise than some people losing their job as we were aware of.
HL: Is that explicit within WikiLeaks that you will do this?
I mean. We state, by our editorial criteria, witch is publicly stated what that criteria is, we will publish, we guarantee it.
So within this clear framework that we have given ourselves and the public, the only room to move is wether we can delay publishing it a little. And engage in a harm minimization process during that delay. So that is what we do, and that has worked.
Now, If there is a case that comes along, later on, where there is clearly going to be, where there is a reasonable likelyhood, not unreasonable but reasonable likelihood about some serious harm coming and that harm minimization process does not work then we will consider it differently. But so far informing and delaying a little bit has worked, but we have not had to do that that many times.
HL: We thank you for your work Julian with this organization.
I have personally donated money to this organization, not much, but some, and I encourage everyone to consider doing that, its Wikileaks.org – make sure that you go to the right site and not someone claiming to be WikiLeaks. Wikileaks.org is the site and you will find links there to contact them and possibly donate money to them.
Thank you for this interview Julian.
JA: You are welcome.
Unfortunately the audio on the original interview came out very poor, this transcript is based on improved and filtered audio files, still the transcript is not perfect as the audio is inaudible in some sections. The original video and improved audio files are available online.
Source files: Both video and ♫ MP3 audio files are available at http://www.folkeradioen.no/ja/
Images from the interview to be used with this article can be found here:
Copyright 2010 Farmann Magazine, Hans Lysglimt
All rights reserved
Contact hanslysglimt at gmail.com to republish this interview or use the video files.
Thanks to everyone who helped get this interview done. Sepcial thanks to Thor Halvorssen for producing the Oslo Freedom Forum.