WikiLeaks turns 10 years old on 4 October. First founded in 2006 as a "multi-national media organization and associated library", the whistle-blowing platform has since published millions of documents detailing various political, diplomatic and business practices of various governments and organisations across the globe. Founder Julian Assange, in an interview, discussed the journey so far and what may lay ahead.
Assange told German magazine Speigel, "We believe in what we are doing. It's very satisfying." Commenting on WikiLeaks' accomplishments, he said, "WikiLeaks has published over 10 million documents in 10 years. Most have been published over the last six years, during which time I have been illegally detained, without charge, in the United Kingdom."
When asked about the recent criticism aimed at him and WikiLeaks, particularly following the controversial DNC emails leaked by the platform, Assange responded, "Our publication of the DNC leaks has showed that the Democratic National Committee had effectively rigged the primaries in the United States on behalf of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders.
"There have been many attempts to distract from the power of our publications. Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win. As always, most media aligns with the presumptive winner even though their claimed societal virtue is to investigate those in power."
Assange also claimed that after the publication of the DNC emails, WikiLeaks was targeted with criticism based on "false" charges. He said, "A few days after the publication of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, an entirely false story was put out that we had published the names, addresses and phone numbers of all female voters in Turkey. It is completely false. And it was and is simple to check. Power factions fight back with lies. That's not surprising."
When asked to comment on whether he and WikiLeaks were either knowingly or inadvertently furthering Donald Trump's campaign, Assange's responsed: "We're not going to start censoring our publications because there is a US election. Our role is to publish. Clinton has been in government so we have much more to publish on Clinton."
He did, however, claim that in the event that WikiLeaks would be provided with internal documents from either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party, those would be published as well. "That's what we do," Assange added.
WikiLeaks has recently been faced with criticism from US officials and Democrats, who claim that the materials published by the whistle-blowing platform, particularly those pertaining to the US elections, may have been provided by Russia. However, Assange claimed, that WikiLeaks has in the past and will in future, should the opportunity arise, publish damning documents about corruption in Russia.
"We have already published more than 650,000 documents on Russia and President Vladimir Putin, most of which was critical," Assange pointed out. "A number of highly critical books were written using this material, like "The Mafia State" by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding. The documents have also gone on to be used in a number of significant litigations, including the Yukos case."
In the interview, Assange also asserted the role he played in ensuring Edward Snowden's safety and comfort. "As a result of WikiLeaks' hard work, Edward Snowden has political asylum, has travel documents, lives with his girlfriend, goes to the ballet and earns substantial speaking fees. Edward Snowden is essentially free and happy. That is no coincidence. It was my strategy to undo the chilling effect of the 35 year Manning sentence and it has worked."
Assange also defended the validity and content of the documents published by WikiLeaks, claiming that the organisation had a "perfect record" in detecting forgeries and false information. "WikiLeaks is literally the worst place in the world to try and plant a false story," he claimed.
Summing up the motivating factors that drive him and the WikiLeaks' staff to continue to pursue the publication of sensitive and sometimes classified documents, despite mounting pressure and criticism, Assange said, "It's extremely interesting intellectually. Sometimes great moments of justice come out of it. A lot of people who work for WikiLeaks have the same instinct as me: If you are pushed you push back."