- Julian Assangefounder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke via video stream to the Green Party convention in Houston, Texas, about the corporate control of information during the 2016 election. He also predicted that attacks against Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein would surge ahead of November’s election.
DAVID COBB: Julian, Greens, like most Americans, are civil libertarians at heart. We believe in personal privacy. We believe in internet freedom, even as we call for complete public transparency and accountability. My question to you is: What can we do as individuals to protect ourselves, and what can we do to help build the movement for keeping the internet free and open, so we, the people, can talk to ourselves?
JULIAN ASSANGE: All right, great question. Well, first of all, have coherency in your own movement. I mean, you have to have coherency to be able to understand your own view of the world and the attacks that are occurring, which—let me tell you that I’ve just seen that the attacks have started to ramp up on Jill Stein. They are going to go through the roof. I’ve had attacks from what is effectively the Clinton threat machine. They’re now post-convention. You guys are going to be post-convention. Those attacks are going to be ferocious. But you’ll see from that and learn lessons from that about how the media works and how one can defend your principles and ideas in the face of that kind of media corruption.
So, to defend civil liberties and the internet, the first thing is to practice it. That’s the number one thing. That’s what we do. We defend the First Amendment and similar constitutional amendments in other states by practicing them. We have won every single court case that we have been involved in over the last 10 years. And that any right that is not fought for through practice and defense is very, very quickly lost. It is just a piece of paper unless you actually fight for it and practice for it.
Then there’s a range of technical measures and some good people, researchers, trying to push out those technical measures. WikiLeaks tweets about that. Edward Snowden tweets about what some of those technical measures are. Support those people who are engaged in trying to engineer, in a practical sense, how to protect people’s privacy. And the other is to support the various groups that are doing it and to build the ideological understanding that it is an important thing, because—let’s go back and look at Google.
Google is very different, in an important way, from Lockheed Martin. Yes, Google is building drones. Yes, Lockheed Martin was and is building F-16s. But Google also controls how we communicate with each other. So, Google is, in a sense, like HIV. It doesn’t—it’s not just something that afflicts your arm; it afflicts your ability to understand and fight the infection. That’s true of all media, libraries, communication services, etc. They’re involved in that part of society that we use to understand ourselves, and that is the freedom of communication. So, the freedom of communication, in some sense, is the fundamental right, because it is the enabling right that allows us to speak to each other to understand the importance of all our other rights. And so, when the freedom of communication is degraded or maligned, when whistleblowers are prosecuted, when one organization starts to develop a monopoly on the internet and interfere with our communication, then all our rights suffer, because this fundamental enabling right is degraded.
As the editor of WikiLeaks, I have gone through a lot of battles. I have seen corrupt mainstream media outlets try to not report initially on some of our materials, spin them in other directions—that’s happened just recently. And I have also seen good journalists, embedded in those institutions, fighting to be accurate and truthful. There are good people even in bad institutions. Most of our sources are good people wanting to do good things, within the U.S. military or intelligence or political parties.
So, my strong advice is to understand, first of all, the necessity to be very skeptical of the traditional media apparatus, which is ultimately owned by some of the largest industrial conglomerates in the world, that’s firmly connected to other points of power; work around it; become your own media in practice, in small ways, in big ways; to keep—to keep your principles and sense of clarity on principles.
What the Clinton campaign is doing at the moment is trying to say, “Well, OK, yes, maybe we’re connected to arms dealers and to Saudi Arabia, and, yes, maybe we subverted the integrity of the Democratic primaries, etc., etc., but you will just have to swallow that. You will just have to swallow that, or else you will get Donald Trump.” That’s a form of extortion. And—well, it is. It is a form of extortion. And—
DAVID COBB: You have elicited applause, Julian.
JULIAN ASSANGE: And you can’t—you can’t permit—it’s very important not to allow the political process to suffer from extortion, or even yourself to be susceptible to extortion. One says one has certain principles. If these principles are not followed, then there is a price to be paid. And that creates a standard and a general deterrent. And I think it is important for those people who feel that their principles have been violated, in the way that the Democratic primary process has been run, or how Chelsea Manning has been imprisoned for 35 years and tortured, or the Espionage Act crackdowns, or many other things, to go, “OK, well, there’s a cost to violating principles,” even if—even if there’s also a cost to yourself, even if you don’t like the risk, which seems to be getting very small, but the risk that Donald Trump becomes president, that one has to have a line somewhere. Otherwise, as each election cycle proceeds, you are pushed further and further into the corner.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking at the Green Party convention in Houston via video stream from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he’s been holed up for more than four years. He was speaking with the Green Party’s David Cobb. For transcript, podcast, more, go to democracynow.org. Special thanks to John Hamilton.