Sunday, March 13, 2011

David Leigh Calls Julian Assange Reckless And Ethically Shallow

By Jerry Smith Mar 13 2011

David Leigh, a journalist from The Guardian who co-authored the book 'WikiLeaks : Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy' with fellow journalist from The Guardian Luke Harding was asked to name an important story in his life, and without skipping a beat Leigh said:
“WikiLeaks is the biggest scoop in journalistic history, there is no debate about that.”

“It’s attracted attention from more than 100 countries, and it’s also melodramatic because you have one individual in Julian pitting himself against the U.S. government.”

Leigh and his staff worked very closely with Julian Assange this last year doing the hard work of interpreting, analysing, condensing and sometimes redacting WikiLeaks’ enormous amount of classified information before it was released to the public.

The friendship between Assange and Leigh, which included Assange staying at his pad, turned sour and deteriorated into nasty tweets, legal threats, paranoia and Leigh being left out in favor of the competition.

Leigh said:
“It was quite a trajectory between admiring Julian to being disenchanted with him to being involved in an outright quarrel. Basically I went from deeply impressed to deeply unimpressed, and the only consolation is that I am far from the only person who’s gone down that road.”
Assange has said that the book written by Leigh and Harding, and published by The Guardian, contains “malicious libels" about him and that he will be taking legal action.

Leigh has said that the book "will bring you as close to the unvarnished truth as you're likely to get".

Assange has previously threatened to sue The Guardian after it published “package three” of the classified diplomatic cables without WikiLeaks’ permission. The paper said that they had gotten the documents from a different source.

Leigh and Harding wrote the book in just three weeks in January, and Leigh said about Assange:
“Julian has been a brilliant pioneer of a new technological order in which you can hack into, purloin and publish secrets, but at the same time he’s so reckless, ethically shallow and personally damaged that he’s not the kind of person who can be trusted.”

“It’s not just that Julian distrusts mainstream media. I think he feels a profound contempt toward the mainstream media and uses it to justify anything he does. He is also, almost certainly, a narcissist.”
In the book Leigh describes a dinner with Assange and some of the other editors where they told Assange their ethical concerns about publishing the names of Afghan informants who had collaborated with the U.S. troops. Leigh claims that Assange's reply was:
“Well, they’re informants. So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.”
According to Leigh, Assange came around to their side and the names were redacted. The Guardian and Assange were now uncomfortable allies and Leigh said:
“We were starting from: ‘Here’s a document. How much of it shall we print?’ Whereas Julian’s ideology was: ‘I shall dump everything out and then you have to try and persuade me to cross a few things out.’ We were coming at it from opposite poles.”
Assange is wanted for questioning by the Swedish police about accusations of rape and sexual molestation made against him by Sofia Wilen and Anna Ardin. Assange denies the allegations and says he had consensual sex with the two women. Assange also referred to the allegations as a “honey trap" evil CIA-led plan.

Leigh does not think the facts support a conspiracy and said:
“Because Julian became the most famous man in the world, he was also getting laid all the time. But the case, if you look at it closely, is really just about two very upset women.”
Leigh thinks that the image of Assange as the embattled martyr for the digital age is too tempting to resist and said:
“Julian has managed to tap into a worldwide yearning for an outlaw hero, the lone man who takes on the bad guys running the town. But the truth is, he’s more like the Wizard of Oz. If you pull back the curtain there’s just a scared little person hiding behind it.”
Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden and his lawyers have recently filed an appeal against Judge Howard Riddle's ruling that Assange, who is still under house arrest at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, should be extradited to Sweden because he felt Assange could get a fair trial in Sweden and that his extradition to Sweden would not violate his human rights.

Assange and his lawyers fear that if he is extradited to Sweden he may then be extradited to the United States, where he could face torture, confinement at Guantanamo Bay, both, or even the death penalty.

Assange has angered the United States with the releasing of leaked embarrassing diplomatic cables, the classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the 'Collateral Murder' video.

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