Wikileaks’ Julian Assange speaks to Sheffield University students

By Reina Fujimoto

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange talked at Sheffield Student Union via video link last Thursday evening.

Assange, 44, is staying at the Ecuador Embassy in London to avoid being arrested under the European Arrest Warrant.

The warrant was issued by Sweden, after two women made rape and sexual assault allegations against him when he visited the country in 2010.

WikiLeaks is a journalistic organisation that exposes government secrets.

It is most famously known for exposing war crimes that the US army committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The evening began with Assange explaining how he came to create WikiLeaks.

He said: “I have been involved passionately in the business of trying to understand the world.”

Once you start understanding how the world works, you start wanting to do something about the world.”

He added: “We accept that we publish more fearlessly than other media organisations.”

When asked about the leak of the Panama papers, he called it “one of the smallest leaks in the world.”

He said: “The Panama Papers haven’t been released, that’s where you’re mistaken – less than 250 have been released.”

He added: “There are some good journalists working on it but the structure is very poor. It is infuriating because we created a successful model that all readers could see that the story is not bullsh*t.”

He also discussed the leak of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) documents, which he called a “good leak.”

He called TTIP a “horrific vision” that would solidify a new socioeconomic model that would increase a chance of conflict between China and the Western bloc.

He said: “People must understand this is not a trade; this is the largest restructuring of the legal system and economy within Europe.”

During the event, Assange was also asked about the rape and sexual assault allegations.

He maintained the position that allegations were fabricated and that it is a strategy by the US government to attempt to silence him.

He said: “It is not acceptable to persecute people who are famous for being persecuted.”

He also talked about encryptions and answered several questions from the audience.

Photo credit: Espen Moe

 

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