Thursday, March 3, 2011

Birgitta Jonsdottir Talks About Julian Assange And WikiLeaks : Video

By Jerry Smith Mar 3 2011

Icelandic member of parliament, ex-WikiLeaks spokesperson, and member of the team behind the making of the Collateral Murder video, Birgitta Jonsdottir, sat down with Dominique Deckmyn in Ghent to talk about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and more.

The United States government is trying to use the Twitter accounts of Jonsdottir and others associated with WikiLeaks like Julian Assange, U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, US computer researcher Jacob Appelbaum, and Dutch volunteer for WikiLeaks Rop Gonggrijp to build a case against Assange for publishing the secret military communications relating to the Iraq and Afghan wars, publishing the roughly 250,000 classified diplomatic cables and releasing the Collateral Murder video.

Deckmyn asked if she was still in touch with the WikiLeaks people and Jonsdottir replied:
"No, only with former WikiLeaks people. I am in touch with Daniel (Domscheit-Berg) and some others, although it is hard to define who does and does not belong to WikiLeaks now. Some people are semi-active or not at all active, and some people want never to talk to Julian Assange again."
Here are some other excerpts from the interview.

Deckmyn: The organization is identified with Assange personally in the media. Do you regret that?

Jonsdottir: What is a pity is that the messenger has turned into the message. That means that the documents have not been paid the attention which they deserve. I no longer know how often I have refused to collaborate on yet another portrait of Julian Assange. It has come to revolve too much around one person, one hero, one messiah, even: That is what he is called on the fan page on Facebook. It is almost a new religion, but that is certainly partly the media's fault. They have decided to create this Icarus; they have blown a great deal of wind under his wings instead of focusing their attention on the real story, the contents of WikiLeaks. That has a great deal to do with the situation in which the media currently find themselves. They are seeking as many clicks as possible, and the stories which get the most clicks on websites are usually about sex scandals.

Deckmyn: Do you believe in Daniel Domscheit-Berg's idea that there should be masses of WikiLeaks-like websites, such as his own new OpenLeaks?

Jonsdottir: Well, WikiLeaks was originally supposed to go in that direction, but then it transformed itself into "MegaLeaks." I believe that it is a valuable experiment. I do not know whether it will be successful, but it should certainly be tried. We live in a world where secrecy is the norm, and no longer has to be justified. Secrecy around big companies, around politicians, and so forth. I am not in favor of complete openness; that is impossible, but I believe that what will remain secret should be decided on in a transparent manner.

Deckmyn: The fact that the cables are being released only in dribs and drabs seems to be prompted more by the desire to achieve maximum media impact rather than the passion for openness.

Jonsdottir: Precisely. And I do not necessarily agree with that, but that is just my personal opinion, and that is worth no more than anybody else's opinion.

Deckmyn: The American judicial authorities have demanded your Twitter use details. Are you surprised that you personally are in conflict with America - surely a free country with a progressive president?

Jonsdottir: Yes and no. No, because I know how desperately they want to lay hands on Julian Assange. Nobody has embarrassed diplomats' entire bureaucratic machine more than WikiLeaks, and so they are seeking ways to pursue him. But they are entering an extremely dangerous minefield. I am a member of parliament, I sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I have a seat in the NATO parliament. Suppose they lay hands on my Google accounts and Facebook information; channels through which I am in touch with other members of parliament! How can they then be critical if China, for instance, tries to lay hands on similar information about American senators who are working for Tibet? But I am not surprised. However, it is quite tiresome that I can no longer travel to the United States. I already could not go to China, so now I cannot go to the United States, either.

Deckmyn: Then do you run a risk there?

Jonsdottir: They could subject me to a very unpleasant interrogation. They are known for that. They accept soft torture, like they are now torturing Bradley Manning.

Deckmyn: Do you believe that Bradley Manning, the serviceman who gave WikiLeaks the war documents, is being tortured?

Jonsdottir: Of course that is happening. It is not a matter of belief; they admit what means they are using. Waking up somebody every five minutes, making him sleep on a kind of sheet which gives you burns if you move in your sleep, not allowing him any movement: That is torture. They are probably trying to break him in order to reach Julian Assange, while WikiLeaks is just an intermediary. It is crazy that they are going only after Julian Assange, because he worked together with a whole set of media, but he is an easy target.

Deckmyn: You are working to make Iceland a kind of haven for freedom of information and freedom of expression. Where did that idea come from?

Jonsdottir: It began with John Perry Barlow - one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was in Iceland in 2008, and he talked at the Digital Freedom Society conference about that idea of a "Switzerland of the bytes." The following year, that idea also formed the nub of the speeches which Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg delivered at the DFS conference. When I heard them say that Iceland could make a difference in this sphere, I immediately thought: Yes! I know that in times of crisis very bad laws are often made, but I thought: Let us seize upon this time of crisis in order to make something good. So I brought together a number of people - Assange, Daniel, Rop Gonggrijp, and a number of others. We brainstormed and researched intensively for a month, and then we wrote the proposal. WikiLeaks's contribution was that it had practical experience as regards the question of which laws work and which laws do not work in order to keep information online, keep sources secret, and repel all judicial attacks.

Deckmyn: How will history look back on WikiLeaks?

Jonsdottir: Hard to say. I believe that they have changed the debate on freedom of information, lack of transparency, the need for stronger laws to protect sources, and so forth. They are the icebreaker. If you look at real icebreakers, they all look very dented, and you never know when they will be holed, but they have created space for others.

Deckmyn: And how will history view Julian Assange?

Jonsdottir: I do not know.

Click here to read the full interview.

Here are some videos of Birgitta Jonsdottir.

Birgitta Jonsdottir appearing on the Alex Jones radio show:

Birgitta Jonsdottir appearing on The Agenda on TVO

Birgitta Jonsdottir appearing on Democracy Now:

Birgitta Jonsdottir on Press TV - The Real Deal


  1. AnonymousJune 15, 2011

    This chick rocks.

  2. AnonymousJune 15, 2011

    Great interview. Birgitta seems great.

  3. "I know how desperately they want to lay hands on Julian Assange"

    You got that right Birgitta

  4. AnonymousJune 17, 2011

    I can't believe she showed up in Canada and did the Agenda with Steve Paikin.

  5. "Deckmyn: You are working to make Iceland a kind of haven for freedom of information and freedom of expression."

    If only others would do the same elsewhere.

  6. AnonymousJune 19, 2011

    that Domscheit-Berg guy seems like a loser.