Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WikiLeaks Spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson Talks To Iceland Review

By Jerry Smith Apr 5 2011

Award-winning investigative reporter and WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, who joined WikiLeaks after working on the 'Collateral Murder' video, talks with Ásta Andrésdóttir from the Iceland Review magazine.

The following is an excerpt from the interview, which is scheduled for publication in the 2011 spring issue of Iceland Review.

Ásta Andrésdóttir: How does it feel to be known as ‘the other face of WikiLeaks’?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: I suppose that says more about the world press than the organization. I am part of a core group, which operates WikiLeaks alongside Assange, and someone must oversee media relations. There’s always this tendency to put a face to a concept. Once Assange stepped forward as the face of WikiLeaks, an unbelievable spectacle ensued; there is much greater interest in his person than the content of the information WikiLeaks publishes. The media has created a myth of an IT nomad, roaming the globe with a backpack and four laptops. For me, this was like any other job; I wasn’t seeking the spotlight. I simply felt that this information must be brought to the world’s attention.

Ásta Andrésdóttir: Do you expect to be attacked like he has been?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: Absolutely. However, after twenty years working in the Icelandic media, I have developed thick skin. The Icelandic community is exceptionally venomous, full of rumors, libel and backstabbing. The dirt thrown my way cannot be topped. Working with WikiLeaks, I have never received direct or personal threats.

Ásta Andrésdóttir: How did you get involved?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: As a reporter, I had been investigating Iceland’s financial collapse. I had made some discoveries pertaining to one of the banks, leading to the cancellation of my program (the award-winning Kompás) as well as a formal investigation of my alleged breach of bank secrecy laws. Then I began working at RÚV, the National Broadcasting Service. On my third day there, in August 2009, I received a tip to look at WikiLeaks. I had never heard of WikiLeaks before. There I found the bank’s entire loan log, revealing that its largest borrowers were its owners. The bank tried in vain to have it removed from the site, but managed to get an injunction on RÚV’s coverage, absurdly forbidding the media to cover material accessible to everyone online. This solidified WikiLeaks as a movement that cannot be contained. Of course, this raised my interest in the organization.

Ásta Andrésdóttir: When did you first meet Assange?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: We met later that year and soon became friends. At the end of February, 2010, he showed me the Collateral Murder video footage from Baghdad, showing fighter pilots nonchalantly killing a group of innocent people. I immediately offered my help showing it to the world. I spent the following week analyzing it thoroughly, and a few days before its scheduled release, producer and cameraman Ingi R. Ingason and I headed to Baghdad. We made four segments for RÚV. This was historical because never before had WikiLeaks collaborated with the traditional media.

Click here to download a pdf file of a selection of pages from the 2011 spring issue of Iceland Review.

No comments:

Post a Comment