Judith Ehrlich, the co-director (with Rick Goldsmith) of the Academy Award-nominated documentary about Daniel Ellsberg titled 'The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers', wanted to make a documentary about Julian Assange but ended up making a documentary about Birgitta Jonsdottir.
Jonsdottir is an Icelandic member of Parliament, ex-WikiLeaks spokesperson, and a member of the team behind the making of the Collateral Murder video. The U.S. government is also trying to use her Twitter account and the Twitter accounts of 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.
Ehrlich recalls the first time she tried to pitch the idea of a documentary on Assange:
“I pitched it to HBO in June (2010) and no one had ever heard of him (Assange).”Then Bradley Manning was arrested for allegedly leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, making Julian Assange a house hold name. Ehrlich said:
“By summer, when I came back, lots of people knew about Assange. In the meantime, lots of people got on the story.”Jonsdottir, an early pioneer of using the Internet for poetry and art, sponsored the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) proposal. The IMMI evolved from the idea that the privacy of individuals should be protected better and that governments should be more transparent.
The goal of the IMMI is to make Iceland a haven for publishers, journalists, and anyone else needing a safe place to keep their information, and it seems to have worked because Iceland is the only place WikiLeaks has an office.
Ehrlich has had some assistance in making the documentary from a couple of grants from small foundations to get started. Ehrlich said about the documentary:
“It’s a film about the global struggle for free speech in the Internet age. I hope to include Dan [Ellsberg] in the story, because it’s about the transition from the old paradigm to the new, the world of whistle-blowing and how it’s changed.”Lawyers for Julian Assange have filed an appeal against Judge Howard Riddle's ruling that Assange, who is still under house arrest at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk,UK, should be extradited to Sweden.
Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden where he has not been charged with anything but 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 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.