Monday, June 6, 2011

Assange Speaks At Hay Festival Of Literature

By Jerry Smith June 6 2011

At the Hay Festival Of Literature, Julian Assange was heckled about U.S soldier Bradley Manning, and spoke about the role WikiLeaks played in the pro-democracy riots across the Middle-East this year, any harm caused by WikiLeaks revelations, the FBI trying to bribe WikiLeaks' staff members, and much more.

During his appearance, Assange was asked if he could better appreciate Manning's plight due to his own time in prison. When he failed to give an adequate response to the question he was heckled and someone from the audience yelled "answer the question".

Manning is the U.S. soldier accused of leaking the embarrassing diplomatic cables, the classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the 'Collateral Murder' video to WikiLeaks.

Manning is currently facing over 30 charges, the most serious being 'aiding the enemy'. If he is found guilty of 'aiding the enemy', Manning could spend the rest of his life behind bars or get the death penalty.

Manning was being held at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, in solitary confinement, spending 23 hours a day in a windowless 6-by-12-foot cell, shackled and forced to sleep either naked or in a suicide-proof smock due to supposed fears that he may commit suicide, but has now been transferred to a Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

About Manning, Assange said:
"Over the past few months a lot of people have been concerned about Bradley Manning's condition and have been able to get information out which has had an effect."

"He has been transferred from Quantico where he should never have been in the first place."

Assange spoke about his own prison experience and said:
"When I was in solitary confinement, in quite severe conditions, I was in the bottom of Wandsworth Prison in the isolation unit with a camera watching me at all times."

"That is very similar conditions to those of Bradley Manning. Now he is allowed out three hours a day."
Assange told the crowd that even though WikiLeaks wasn't the sole or even the major factor in the pro-democracy uprisings in the middle east, he thought that WikiLeaks had "played a significant role" in the movement, with the publishing of the secret documents on those countries' regimes.

"It does look like we played a significant role in it. That said, the tinder of the Middle East was drying," Assange said.

The WikiLeaks founder credits the increase in satellite TV stations like Al-Jazeera and the spread of the Internet as the major factors in the movement.

The Australian described himself as a "colonial cousin" and said about the UK:
"What I really detest about the UK is there is a certain mid-brow squeamishness in the population."

"It would rather destroy an entire revolution, and keep a country in dictatorship, than risk being blamed for the tiniest thing."

"We are certainly willing to take flak. We are not squeamish and we will not condemn a nation to dictatorship simply because we are aware of a certain annoying middle class squeamishness in the UK."
In a response to critics who said that WikiLeaks' disclosures could endanger lives, Assange said that major change involved risks and sometimes even deaths.

"There are no official allegations in the public domain" of anyone being hurt by any disclosures made by WikiLeaks, Assange told the around 400 people who paid to see him, despite US fears and warnings that injuries would occur.

“We have a perfect record, and an enviable record that I am proud of,” Assange said.

Authorities in the United States have been trying to link Assange to Manning in order to charge Assange with publishing the diplomatic cables and military documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that the United States alleges Manning stole and gave to WikiLeaks.

Assange told the audience that WikiLeaks, as a rule, destroys all record of it's sources and said:
"The only way to make sure you have no secrets is to not collect any in the first place."
Assange revealed that WikiLeaks will be publishing more leaked documents and that if the details were leaked to him, he would break a super-injunction.

Assange pointed out that Wikileaks has already published details about “five or six” super-injunctions in the past, and said that Wikileaks might resort to a super-injunction in order to protect its sources.

“There probably is a circumstance where we would (apply for a super-injunction),” said Assange.

During his hour long appearance, Assange insisted that “the internet does not give you free speech”, and said that those revealing secrets online were “hounded from one end of the earth to the other”.

Assange also added that the FBI has attempted to bribe WikiLeaks employees.

When asked if he would do anything different in his life, Assange said "anyone who looks back and does not think that they would have done something differently is an idiot," and when pressed for an example, he said "one staff hire", but didn't name names.

When Assange finished his appearance he was presented with a rose, which is customarily given to everyone who appears.

Among the sell-out crowd at the festival were actresses Vanessa Redgrave, former X-Files star Gillian Anderson and actor Ralph Fiennes.

Assange has been working on his memoirs with a ghost writer. The book was supposed to appear in April, but British publisher Canongate postponed it. Assange said the book will appear "when it's ready".

Assange, who is still under house arrest at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, Britain, will continue to fight being extradited to Sweden at a two day hearing at the High Court in London on July 12 and 13.

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 strongly denies the allegations made by Wilen and Ardin, and says that 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.

Assange angered the United States when WikiLeaks published the leaked embarrassing diplomatic cables, the classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the 'Collateral Murder' video.


  1. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    What a surprise, the feds tried to bribe Wikileaks.

  2. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    I like who goes to these festivals.

    "actresses Vanessa Redgrave, former X-Files star Gillian Anderson and actor Ralph Fiennes."

  3. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    Wikileaks did play a significant role in those uprisings.

  4. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    I like when Assange said "one staff hire" for his mistake.

  5. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    I liked his mistake as well.

  6. AnonymousJune 11, 2011

    LOL at mistake

  7. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    Assange is a hypocrite. He publishes super-injunction, but would get one himself. What an ass.

  8. poor manning. The americans are going to keep him in jail forever. Just like they would to Assange if they get a hold of him.

  9. They may even kill Assange if they can get away with it.

  10. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    Hopefully they don't get their hand on him.

  11. You said it Anonymous.

  12. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    Poor Assange

  13. AnonymousJune 18, 2011

    Assange was hardly heckled.