The world owes a debt to WikiLeaks’ whistleblowing
Whatever happens to its editor Julian Assange, facing possible extradition, WikiLeaks has cracked open state secrecy for ever
Last Saturday was sunny in London, and the crowds were flocking to Wimbledon and to the annual Henley Regatta. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.org, was making his way by train from house arrest in Norfolk, three hours away, to join me and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for a public conversation about WikiLeaks, the power of information and the importance of transparency in democracies. The event was hosted by the Frontline Club, an organisation started by war correspondents in part to memorialize their many colleagues killed covering war. Frontline Club co-founder Vaughan Smith looked at the rare sunny sky fretfully, saying, “Londoners never come out to an indoor event on a day like this.” Despite years of accurate reporting from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Smith was, in this case, completely wrong.
Close to 1,800 people showed up, evidence of the profound impact WikiLeaks has had, from exposing torture and corruption to toppling governments.
Assange is in England awaiting a 12 July extradition hearing, as he is wanted for questioning in Sweden related to allegations of sexual misconduct. He has not been charged. He has been under house arrest for more than six months, wears an electronic ankle bracelet and is required to check in daily at the Norfolk police station.