Assange: “Already… we have changed governance” [Updated]

Most of the BBC’s John Humphrys’ exclusive new interview with Julian Assange, currently under "manor arrest" in Suffolk,  is a not particularly englightening back and forth over the sexual assault charges against him, but he also draws the WikiLeaks founder out a bit on how he percieves the impact of his leaks:  JA: Already we ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
560122_manor2.jpg
560122_manor2.jpg

Most of the BBC's John Humphrys' exclusive new interview with Julian Assange, currently under "manor arrest" in Suffolk,  is a not particularly englightening back and forth over the sexual assault charges against him, but he also draws the WikiLeaks founder out a bit on how he percieves the impact of his leaks: 

JA: Already we see that we have changed governance, we have certainly changed many political figures within governments, we have caused new law reform efforts, we have caused police investigations into the abuses we expose, UN investigations, investigations here in the UK especially in relation to our revelation of the circumstances of the deaths of 109,000 people in Iraq. Before Cablegate, the change is so vast that I cannot, and my whole team cannot, even keep track of it.

Q: Isn't there a danger in the long term that we will know less about the way governments, authorities, various institutions run, because of what you call Cablegate, this release of millions of documents, millions of cables? Because in truth… what people in organisations like MI5 and MI6 will say is: "If we were doing bad things, we won't stop doing bad things, we just won't write them down."

Most of the BBC’s John Humphrys’ exclusive new interview with Julian Assange, currently under "manor arrest" in Suffolk,  is a not particularly englightening back and forth over the sexual assault charges against him, but he also draws the WikiLeaks founder out a bit on how he percieves the impact of his leaks: 

JA: Already we see that we have changed governance, we have certainly changed many political figures within governments, we have caused new law reform efforts, we have caused police investigations into the abuses we expose, UN investigations, investigations here in the UK especially in relation to our revelation of the circumstances of the deaths of 109,000 people in Iraq. Before Cablegate, the change is so vast that I cannot, and my whole team cannot, even keep track of it.

Q: Isn’t there a danger in the long term that we will know less about the way governments, authorities, various institutions run, because of what you call Cablegate, this release of millions of documents, millions of cables? Because in truth… what people in organisations like MI5 and MI6 will say is: "If we were doing bad things, we won’t stop doing bad things, we just won’t write them down."

JA: That’s something that I thought of before we ever launched this project. It’s not so easy. There is a reason why people write things down. Yes, you can organise a small group of people to do something with just word of mouth. But if you want to enact policy, for example, to get Guantanamo Bay guards to do something, get the grunts to do something, you’ve got to write it down or it will not be followed.

Later, in response to a question of whether he sees himself as a "messianic" figure, Assange replies with what’s sure to become a widely quoted line: "Everyone would like to be a messianic figure without dying."

Update: Another priceless line with an unfortunately firewalled interview with the Times:

"I was handed a card by one of my black prison guards. It said, ‘I only have two heroes in the world: Dr. (Martin Luther) King, and you,’" he told the newspaper. "That is representative of 50 percent of people."

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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