Mark Ellis - interviewer (ME) Conversation with Julian Assange - audio.mp3
[00:00:00 - 00:01:37] [Preamble].
[00:01:38] ME: Let me start if I could with a more general question about Wikileaks and your approach to the issue of kind of good vs. harm and whether or not you think that there is a balance as to what is presented to the public through Wikileaks. Obviously the one of the highlights came from the records that were released from private Chelsea Manning. This showed.... Not only from your work but Mr. Snowden's work kind of a massive government surveillance operation, torture, death of civilians in the hands of international forces in Iraq in Afghanistan. So I think many viewed that as simply being a whistleblower to information that was I think certainly a surprise and probably offensive to many. But on the other side, you have through WikiLeaks published millions of documents that deals with hacked e-mails of corporations public figures international trade agreements and they have at times damaged kind of individual privacy and some would argue without kind of public benefit. How do you go about or do you at all go about in making some distinction between what you think is something it needs to be known and others that might be harmful or might not just simply be crucial or important.
[00:03:57] ME: I apologize for interrupting because you're kind of going in and out... Okay.
[00:04:38] JA: So every law, every Constitution, every regulation, is formed as a result of human beings communicating what they know. That is a process that exists above and beyond the law because it is the process which forms the very bedrock from which boards may regulate it. And so then the question becomes, what does WikiLeaks decide to spend its energies on. Well we have a taxi rank principle. If someone comes to us with information that hasn't been public or is of diplomatic, political or historical significance, and under some kind of suppression or that person themselves is under some kind of threat.
[00:05:35] You know, they can't publish it themselves, then we will publish it. We may occasionally redact some information for some limited period of time.
[00:05:48] There's an arguable case that it could lead to very direct forms of retribution against individuals that don't go through a formal justice process.
[00:06:02] Assassinating someone, as an example. As opposed to revealing information that does lead to retribution that is through a fair judicial process.
[00:06:20] ME: If you look back at trying to ... I sense that... well really that balance, other than if it has a direct harm on somebody, you generally then objectively put the information in... Consequences are consequences. And again getting back to the initial leaks where people found out about this government massive surveillance I think many people felt, you know, 'that's something I didn't know and I wanted to know. And I'm glad you presented that.' Obviously there are many that would disagree with that. But if you turn to a situation, and one example is the one that came out this past year on the presidential elections. So WikiLeaks had made a decision to publish thousands of e-mails just before the election in the US. And I suspect that in doing so there had to be some recognition that this was going to have an impact; consequences were going to occur.
[00:07:36] We've read where Hillary Clinton has said, well actually the WikiLeaks documents contributed significantly to her defeat. Donald Trump's tweeted 'I love WikiLeaks'.
[00:07:51] So, was there any assessment on what those consequences would be in putting those e-mails, leaked e-mails, out at that particular moment? It looks to some as just an agenda that maybe you dislike Hillary, you wanted to move in a different direction. How do you respond to that kind of review and decision making?
[00:08:22] JA: There's an interesting issue about why this topic comes up at all. Perhaps we'll get onto that later.
[00:08:34] WikiLeaks is an organization which is committed to be the most aggressive publisher in the world, the strongest defender of press freedoms, that has never been accused of censoring one of its sources and has obeyed, scrupulously, its reputation for accuracy and boldness in publishing and having never unpublished something. Yeah, we're not in the business of censoring information. If we get information about an election before an election, we will do everything possible to publish it, at the moment when the public is the most interested in it. Which is before an election rather than after. It would be a betrayal of our role before the public to suppress information to the benefit of one candidate or another.
[00:09:39] ME: But you recognize then that there were consequences that in this particular election... Do you see that in fact Wikileaks did contribute...
[00:09:50] JA: No, not really. We looked at the polling like everyone else did. And essentially the whole establishment of the United States except for FOX News, perhaps, was united behind Hillary Clinton. So those factors led us to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton would win. And our publications wouldn't make a significant difference... they could well discolour her as she was forming her administration and of course she would be likely to take significant extra revenge on us as an organization for publishing that material in the election campaign. My position and the position of our staff is that actually this was a rigorous commitment to principle and that we were entering into a position of danger and significant self-sacrifice by infuriating the person who opinion polls told us had a 90 to 98 percent chance of becoming president.
[00:11:08] ME: You ... continuing on that line, because it still is debated right now, it's being debated in Washington. Getting back...
[00:11:17] JA: But I mean, even if we had known that Trump would be elected as he in the end was, it wouldn't have changed that at all. If you have principles you have to live by them. Otherwise they're not principles. You can't decide you're not going to have a principle, just because the situation mildly changes. I disagree with your analysis of the hysteria about the US president and frankly the power of presidents in general.
[00:11:54] ME: Getting back to that point though, in a sense of the perception that there might be an agenda. It was known that you you didn't have a real like of Hillary Clinton. I think that was common knowledge. You had your issues when she was...
[00:12:10] JA: I think that was common to about 50 per cent of the American population.
[00:12:18] ME: OK. Well at the time.
[00:12:21] JA: I think that probably the majority of the rest of the world's population actually.
[00:12:28] ME: Right. At the time.
[00:12:31] JA: I mean, I don't know the woman. I'm not in high school. I don't have dislikes of people that I haven't met. It's more...I don't like their policies, or their, you know, the way that they might lead to wars for example.
[00:13:00] ME: On those leaks and the sense you had mentioned earlier about kind of an objective process of getting sourced information. If it met the criteria that WikiLeaks has set out, then you publish it. You put it out on this. So I want to ask you still on the presidential election leaks in the sense of that source material. On the leaks that happened on the Democratic National Committee. At least now the United States has a fairly consistent position from the National Security Agency, the FBI, the CIA, that that information that was leaked was actually sourced by Russia, by Russian military intelligence.
[00:13:50] And they are adamant that that's where that information came from. I've read where you have said that's not the case. But is it possible that if you... first of all, I'll just ask you directly. How do you know that it was not from Russian military intelligence when it seems that everybody that's looking at this right now suggests that it was.
[00:14:20] And is there a sense that Wikileaks could be an unwilling or willing agent of a government, in this case Russia?
[00:14:35] JA: You're on sort of suggesting that a public service like the postal system might be an unwitting agent of all sorts of people transmitting the post. It doesn't mean you close down the postal service. In relation to our sourcing, on this particular issue, our source is not a member of any state or those various publications related to the election. There has been intentional conflation between a variety of other publications and other leaks that appeared in the US press with material that we published. But the formal position of US intelligence as stated by President Barack Obama and the head of the ODNI et cetera... is that they believe that, one with high confidence, the other slightly less, that Russian actors hacked the DNC. I don't know that they speak about the [?] publication. And that through some circuitous chain of intermediaries that information was given to us. That's what they claim.
[00:16:09] ME: The interview that you gave in the New Yorker which I suspect a number of people [here] have read anyway said that, and I'd like your thoughts on this, because you obviously you've indicated now with US intelligence, that they're kind of saying what they want to say. He says this, 'Whatever one thinks of Assange's election disclosures, accepting his contention that they shared no ties with two Russian fronts, requires wilful blindness'. So, do you think that this will continue to be the general perception of that particular leak? We have now Bob Mueller who is investigating, undoubtedly he will be looking at this as well.
[00:16:54] Are you confident that this will not lead to a scenario where the evidence is overwhelming that in fact those leaked e-mails came from Russian military sources?
[00:17:09] JA: The e-mails that we published? I'm confident that our sources will never be shown to be that. Look, enormous energy has been put into the alleged Russiagate investigation in the United States. Enormous energies. Vast resources across the FBI, CIA, NSA, the Democratic Party, the democratically aligned press which has the best investigative capacity. With extremely little to show for it...
[00:17:50] ME: Although they are saying that.
[00:17:52] JA:...over the course of a year. I'm speaking more broadly now about the attempts to tie the Trump campaign team to Russia in some way. I mean I don't know, maybe the campaign has in other respects a relationship with the Russian government. I don't know. Just looking at the... it's a little bit like the situation with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So before the war and before they discovered that there were none, my analysis was that vast resources were being put in to trying to find any at all, or any evidence and to amplify whatever could look like something. Huge resources. And that there hadn't been anything of substance and therefore in my view was that perhaps Iraq had some chemical weapons but these were not of strategic significance. Clearly, otherwise these vast resources would have turned up somewhere. So this would be my guess about the Trump administration's contacts with Russia. So maybe there's something there, but if so it's not of significance, because if it was of significance, these vast resources put into it would have turned up more than they have.
[00:19:40] ME: That may very well be the case. But what I'm suggesting is that there seems to be consistency now emerging, at least in the United States, from all of these agencies, that there is little doubt that those e-mails and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee was in fact done through Russian military intelligence. And if that is the case...
[00:20:07] JA: Where are the leaks? Washington is leaking like a sieve these days... I'm proud of having contributed to that dynamic! Where are the leaks on that? We see leaks on everything else. We don't see any leaks on that. We hear statements such as those from James Clapper, [former] Head of the DNI...when Wikileaks got our materials, so the sequencing, they don't know. So I mean they don't even know about our communications with our sources, when they happened, and so on. [...] if you go back and you look last year, you'll see that prior to that the Russian hysteria, the U.S. government came out and said that that five or six different states or organizations had been involved in hacking. The DNC, RNC [?] and so on over a number of years. And that's absolutely what you expect. I mean we published proof showing that the CIA was tasked to hack the French elections, the one before Macron. And in a very invasive way. So that's absolutely normal, every major political party of a major country has hackers from a variety of countries. And private organizations contracted by them in there. I think you've got on the one hand perhaps some forensic trail showing one state or another state in these organizations. And then on the other hand you have WikiLeaks publishing things. And what I don't think there exists is a proper connection between these two - it's an intelligence inferment by the ODNI.
[00:22:25] But hypothetically, if you had a sense, an awareness, that the information that was being passed to Wikileaks was coming from not an individual hacker, but it was coming from the military intelligence of a government that clearly had its objective to sway the US elections, which seems to be a fairly objective position right now from all sources. If you knew that, would you still publish it or would you say, well no, I'm not going to play that, I'm not going to become an agent to the influence of this party or this government state in trying to interfere with the elections of another country.
[00:23:11] JA: I don't know, we haven't been in that position. It's an interesting hypothetical question. I thought about in a different way. Which is what if a large state, say China... what if we perceived that a large state, say China, gave us information to publish about Taiwan, a much smaller state, would we have a problem with that? Maybe. We don't have a rule for that. We'd have to think about it. To think about what that rule is. But it's not like if we don't publish something it disappears. When we publish it, it gets properly assessed and analyzed and so on. If we don't publish it, it will appear somewhere else. It's not like we are actually contributing to a problem [?], actually we're contributing to understanding what information actually is in such a case.
[00:24:20] ME: So some some room there on this. You've talked about journalism, but you've been pretty critical of that. You said in the New Yorker interview, 'We come not to save journalism but to destroy it.' 'Journalism doesn't deserve to live. It has to be grounded down into the ashes before a new structure can be formed.' So I am curious about that because you do rely on journalists.
[00:24:56] WikiLeaks has part of its staff and its whole process, journalists who are involved with it. So is this mainline mainstream media that you're criticising? It seems the journalistic integrity...
[00:25:12] JA: I think you'll see, somewhere in that quote, I say there's a fundamental information asymmetry between the journalist and the reader. And this information assymetry is exploited. If the reader wasn't ignorant, they wouldn't read to gain knowledge. Do you see? Therefore, because the reader is by definition ignorant otherwise they have no interest in reading, this then causes a knowledge gap which can be exploited and which is exploited all the time. I'm very familiar with that. I would say that something like, in the big Western countries, something like 2 per cent of journalists are credible in my view in terms of accuracy. I mean that very article is an example of that. That quote is presented as if I said it in a interview to the [?] - I didn't, I said it in 2010, a long long time ago. But constructed to, I guess further a particular Democratic narrative, the editor of The New Yorker David Remnick [...?] These constructions occur. Everyone in the audience who has found themselves... a case they've been involved in, reported in the press, will understand exactly what I mean. It's a quite interesting syndrome, which is you're involved in something, you see it reported in the press, and you go, 'it's nothing like that'. I know that from personal experience. It's largely fabricated. Sometimes completely fabricated, quotes, otherwise chronologies reversed for some particular reason et cetera. What people then don't do, and I even catch myself falling for this, we then look at a story that we don't have direct knowledge of its truthfulness because we're not direct participants, or something about foreign affairs et cetera, and we assume it's accurate... no, that dog food is made exactly the same way. As the...I'm mixing my metaphors now. That dog food is made exactly the same way as the stuff that you saw and understood how bad the process was.
[00:28:00] ME: This past year...
[00:28:02] JA: I believe in education. And Wikileaks and important public records. Adult education creates a defining environment of what we in some sense agree to be true. And obviously we all have different angles on a particular archive or public document, but at least we can agree it is a public document, it's true and Wikileaks has a pristine record, 11 years of publishing only information that is accurately described. It's remarkable. So I believe that our civilisation can only be as strong together as human beings. We can only rise to the heights with which the knowledge scaffold that we have can reach. And if this scaffold is actually made out of plasticine or supports that seems strong but actually create friction, then you can't reach very high. We see that all the time, the corrosive effects of selective news reporting, complete fabrications, hype, hysteria. I think the press is in general very toxic, very toxic and extremely corrosive. When it does its job right, and it does do its job right sometimes as a result of a few good journalists, it's a remarkable thing. But the gap between its potential achievements and its actual record is so immense, you really have to question whether the world would be better off without it...even a reversal of this...
[00:30:31] ME: That's a fairly strong indictment on mainstream media, when I think mainstream media, whether it's...
[00:30:42] JA: I don't think the alternative media is any better. In fact it's frequently worse.
[00:30:52] ME: But WikiLeaks has... You had just referred to a platform, we're with an international audience of lawyers and so law plays an important platform for the IBA and for lawyers in general. We know that this past year Sweden dropped the arrest warrant that had been part of a European arrest warrant that came out in 2010. They've dropped that arrest warrant. But during this time you were very critical of Sweden suggesting that it has a poor judicial system. I think many people thought that was a bit harsh against Sweden. So two points: one, fundamentally your failure or your desire not to engage with the issues of that arrest warrant on the attempted rape, the allegation of that, was that done primarily because of your concern for extradition, or did you just have a complete lack of faith in the judicial legal system to provide you a fair hearing and a fair process on that issue?
[00:32:10] JA: Sweden would not guarantee that I would not be onwards extradited to the Unites States. And I had a complete lack of faith in Sweden's ability, of its judicial system's ability, and I guess more broadly as a political society, its ability to fairly carry out a hearing in relation to the US extradition. There's obviously various hooks that one could use in Swedish law or pulldowns from European law to try and resist onwards extradition to the United States. And my experience in Sweden and how it was dealing with the other case - not even case, preliminary investigation, I was never even charged - that made me very concerned about its resilience as a judicial system.
[00:33:20] My philosophical take away from that experience and others is that every state has a level at which its judicial system breaks down. Where, you know, the political nature of a case or the opponents of the accused are... Yeah, they have a level where they break down, every country has it. There is no exemption, every international tribunal, it is the same everywhere and the only question really is where is this level, and where are you as a defendant on that level. I think that in my in my case I was on this level [gestures to a high point] and Sweden's capacities were on this level [gestures to a lower point].
[00:34:08] ME: I guess that's the point of saying... certainly there are countries in the world that one would question the integrity, the ability of the judicial system...
[00:34:16] JA: All of them - there is no exception. Let me give you a type of proof. A military invasion will remove every judicial system. No exception. So you actually see that the administration of the law, judges, all that, comes as a result of the military domination of a particular area of life and to more efficaciously administer that military domination and more efficiently and to have less opposition from the population that are there... there is a construction of various lightly armed forms of military, we call them police, and delegated decision making, so you don't have to have your top power figures constantly making decisions, and instead you create standardised rules and people to administer them. So when everything starts getting up near this level of the fundamental underpinnings of where legal systems emerged from, they break down. No exceptions.
[00:35:28] ME: But if you're saying there's no exceptions, and pointing to Sweden as an example of a country that again as you suggested had a weak judicial system then you are in essence saying.
[00:35:40] JA: I don't think it's fair to say that it has a weak judicial system, given the size of its population, its geographical position, its history, et cetera. Rather that, as I said, every country's judicial system breaks down at some point. Sweden being a small country, isolated geographically from its big friends, scared of Russia and that culture. I've become a bit of a Sweden nerd, I can describe the history of Sweden going back to the 15th century and the emergence of its judicial system. Yeah I guess it's basically what you would expect in a country about that size that is deeply integrated in the US armaments logistical supply chain and also the United Kingdom, where its most powerful influential companies and families are part of that, the Wallenberg family and so on. It's just an inevitable thing with a country that size. I mean it's like New Zealand for example when the Rainbow Warrior was blown up by DGSE secret agents from France, in the harbour. A man was killed. A very serious crime. Those people left - two of them were found, convicted, tried, and smuggled out of New Zealand with the approval of the New Zealand government within a few years, and did not serve their full sentence. There's an example where the power of the French state, and it's only the French state [unintelligible] with secret agents.
[00:37:40] ME: I think that the consequences of that... I'm going to ask now people to get prepared to ask Julian some questions... the only concern there would be the consequences that if one is saying, in essence, well all legal systems have trouble and they break down as you say, and therefore as an individual, I'm not going to place myself within the context of that particular legal system, then the perception could be, well, you've avoided a legal process, and what does that mean for the rule of law generally. If everyone can kind of make that determination...
[00:38:13] JA: No, absolutely not, absolutely not. Sweden avoided the legal process and engaged in an illegal process, as the planning [?] of the United Nations. UK appealed that planning [?] and lost again. Sweden was formally condemned by the United Nations. It was a formal litigation before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [...] They would not follow process of even asking me the first question. They're refused to even ask me the first question in that entire process. I was never charged. I had already been found to be innocent by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm. A completely corrupt process. Absolutely corrupt. And yes, did I then say no, you have to do things reasonably, the behaviour you have engaged in gives me no faith in relation to onwards US extradition. And they had also rendered people to the CIA, previous refugees and so on. It gives me no faith, therefore pick up the phone if you want to speak to me. Do what is normal in Europe, send someone here to ask me the first question, if you want to resurrect an investigation where I have already been found to be innocent. We had to litigate for years to get them to even ask me the first question.
[00:39:50] ME: But that process has now kind of moved on. And so one of the questions I'll ask at the end is kind of...
[00:39:57] JA: It has moved on. We won and now we're suing for damages. Yeah.
[00:40:06] ME: What I'm saying is that others would I think say, well you may have won that and may have deservingly won that. But there's still a question about whether the principle, the legality principle, was that weakened in the process, because it's unlikely that somebody else would have been able to avoid...
[00:40:25] JA: Sweden was not following its own laws, it was not following European laws, it was not following international law.
[00:40:34] ME: Let me open it up for questions. We've got some mikes around [...]
[00:40:5] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. Thank you Julian. I'm a fan of yours. I admire the work you do, but the quick question is... Well, firstly perhaps I should say I'm a barrister from South Africa, Johannesburg. I dabble a bit in libel law, in defamation law. The courts around certainly the Commonwealth countries, including South Africa, which used to be a Commonwealth country, make a distinction between information that is of interest to the public, on the one hand, and information that is interesting to the public on the other. What I would like to learn from you is what processes or what measures do you follow, to distinguish between the two types of information?
[00:41:47] JA: I wrote a UN submission about exactly this point [overtalking]. My view is that is the wrong way to look at it. That actually there is a well established tradition, and it's about newsworthiness, when we're talking about publication. Newsworthiness is pretty much of interest to the public, not of public interest. And this view about...what is essentially a fundamentally anti-democratic viewpoint, 'of interest to the public', well who decides that? 'Of public interest', the public decides with their eyeballs. The essentially vote for the information they believe is important to them. So this is the way that WikiLeaks operates, we're interested in material that is newsworthy in the fast news sense, but also over the long period of time that it's archive-worthy. That can also include information that is completely unnewsworthy in isolation but it adds to the rich context of something that has been published. Or it keeps us honest, in the sense that we try to publish full archives...as I said occasionally there may need to be redactions for a limited period of time. We try to publish full archives, because otherwise there's a selection criteria, and this selection criteria, inevitably psychological or cultural biases, and fears about reputation management and so on would enter into that selection process. And in many cases it would be economically impossible because we publish at such high volume.
[00:44:12] ME: On this side who's got a question? Right here.
[00:44:17] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Julian, Brad Lewington [?] from the Australian newspaper. You seem to have had strained relations with the Australian Government and your diplomatic representation from Australia in recent years. Could you say...
[00:44:35] JA: I wasn't aware there was any representation!
[00:44:39] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fair enough. As far as I know the government claimed some contact with you at some point.
[00:44:45] JA: Every so often they call up saying would you like consular support, we say 'what are you offering?' and then they don't say anything, and that's their contact.
[00:44:55] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay that's fine. I'm not trying to dispute your version of events...
[00:45:02] JA: Bob Carr in his autobiography in fact admitted that he had lied when he said that I had had more consular support than any other Australian in that year, or something. He admitted it was a lie.
[00:45:16] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fair enough. In light of that could I ask you whether there has been any improvement from your point of view under the Turnbull Government? What is your view generally of the Turnbull Government? And do you think that there would be any difference in terms of your consular support under say a Shorten Labour government?
[00:45:38] JA: When Rudd was foreign minister, they once forwarded us a letter that they had received from Sweden and they also gave me a pen and pencil when I was in prison. That was the sum total of the consular diplomatic support from the Australian government. And since that time there's been nothing at all. I think to help you understand the craven, sadly craven nature of the Australian Government, it's not just about me, other Australians who have problems in relation to the United States, the United Kingdom, also get similar treatment if they're involved in...if they are a political irritant to those states. Yeah. So, I think an example that really sums it up is the Nobel Peace Prize this year, awarded to ICAN - an anti-nuclear group founded in Melbourne only ten years ago - some of my friends are involved in that. That's a massive coup for Australia. I believe - I have to double check but I believe that no Australian organization has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize. And I think even no Australian has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize, but Malcolm Turnbull could not bring himself to congratulate an Australian organisation for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, because of course the United States has nuclear weapons and Australia is integrated with that system. It's disgraceful. It's pathetic.
[00:47:47] ME: Who's over in the middle? Yes. Right there. Can we put a mike there? And if there are others in the back just raise your hands so I can see.
[00:47:59] JA: Thank you Julian. You've stated your distrust to journalism. And I was wondering what your opinion is on the novel means that the current US president is using to address the public through direct social media. Is this a method that should be mirrored by other diplomatic politicians to avoid filtered news and press to the public?
[00:48:30] JA: Interesting question. In general, yes, that's an extremely positive thing. The particular way that Donald Trump uses it - a very unusual psychological character, very very unusual. He lies like that [clicks fingers]. He lies constantly. Gargantuan lies. So it's not a positive, every time he lies he communicates it. It's very rarely a positive. It's a type of intellectual pollution in the library of mankind. On the other hand he also tells the truth like that [clicks fingers], in situations where normally people would not tell the truth, they would not say anything or they would conceal or in some way.
[00:49:24] The second part is very many interesting things being revealed about the structure of US power. And the result of the first part is all sorts of dangerous distortions that enter into our perceptions of reality, or some people's perception of reality.
[00:49:53] ME: All right. Who else?
[00:50:05] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Julian, I'm a lawyer from India. And there is a much needed focus from WikiLeaks towards Asia and are we going to see this soon?
[00:50:17] JA: Well, I wouldn't say I know India well, but actually Indians are our second biggest readership outside the United States [...] as you might have seen over the years we've had some interesting information being released on India which caused the Indian parliament to walk out eight times. That's a question of expansion really. When we get such information we publish it. For example the Indian ID card. Close to the original plans, well before implementation, we published.
[00:51:05] Expanding Wikileaks, what does an organisation need to expand? It needs to not be distracted by about a dozen different serious legal cases and it needs to expand its capital. We're doing okay in terms of more than breaking even and slowly expanding. If you know of Indians that could form some kind of intellectual nucleus for Wikileaks India, I'd be interested to hear that.
[00:51:45] ME: Yes. In the middle there.
[00:52:08] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi Mr Assange. I'm curious about your claim that you are the boldest publisher and you only publish accurate information. How do you know it's accurate? How do you support that claim, what's your process?
[00:52:34] JA: We've become the best forensic analysers of digital information, at least as far as any organisation that is public. An interesting question whether intelligence agencies exceed our capacities. I think probably not. A lot of it's forensics, some of it's gut instinct, some of it's calling people up and trying to find secondary agreement in the truthfulness of the information. Some of it's assessing the economic cost in producing certain material... You apportion your analytic resources in proportion to the value of the publication but also in proportion to how easy it would be to fake... the value of faking it in that way.
[00:53:36] But so far 11 million documents published, to be fair sometimes those are a million at once from the same source. But we've never misdescribed any document that we have ever published, never misauthenticated anything we've ever published. I think that's a very enviable record. It is a bit burdensome, so in some ways I wish we didn't have that record. You know the phrase, 'the perfect is the enemy of the good' - we have perfect. Because we have perfect, and to lose perfect in some sense would be a reputational calamity, we have to reduce volume a little bit, to keep perfect.
[00:54:27] ME: All right this gentleman right there in the middle...
[00:54:43] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. Assange, you've now been holed up inside the embassy for over five years. You were in breach of your bail conditions. Were it not for the niceties of diplomatic protocols, the police would have stormed the embassy and arrested you. Do you really have any regard at all with respect for the rule of law? And have you come to terms with the fact that in the absence of you coming out voluntarily you may end your natural life inside that embassy holed up in your small room?
[00:55:15] JA: Is this a British twat? It sounds like it.
[00:55:24] AUDIENCE MEMBER: You just, with respect, demonstrated you have no regard for the rule of law by your failure to answer that question. And by your determination to make a gratuitous insult.
[00:55:37] JA: I have developed a certain understanding of the London culture, if you can call it that, through my interactions with certain types of people here. Can you name the publication you're from?
[00:55:59] ME: I suspect he's not, I think he's probably just a colleague...
[00:56:01] AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm just a humble lawyer and somebody whom you have shown by your comments you have no regard at all. Sorry, and I apologise for being British.
[00:56:12] JA: Yeah. Okay. So you are a member of the state which has been acting unlawfully to me in suppressing my rights which is being [?] by the UN and is widely criticized by others, the behaviour of your state, you form part of that state, I don't know exactly how you form part of it just culturally or whatever, but that's an example of the sort of garbage I guess that I face in this town.
[00:56:53] ME: This gentleman here.
[00:56:56] JA: Yep. Hi, Nate Walker from California. You hold much of the media in disdain. Are there any, apart from WikiLeaks are there any media sources or journalists that you generally consider to be trustworthy, and which ones?
[00:57:13] JA: C-SPAN is good. It's a primary source publisher, like we're a primary source publisher. Look, there are fine journalists working across all the major mainstream media outlets. It's just that they are a minority that are concerned about accuracy. And sometimes even... kind of beside themselves, you know, when the New York Times or Fox News or Washington Post wants to annihilate one of its enemies, they can spend considerable resources on digging up dirt about them. Is that good or bad? A bit of both. Those resources are spent, insofar as a criticism is genuine it's probably a healthy thing to have this clash of... attempted reputational destruction from different parties. I guess Politico is actually...Politico Europe has just started, that's very interesting. So Politico comes out of the Graham family which used to run the Washington Post which is now run by Amazon. It's been a bit mixed in the United States, it was very biased towards Clinton. We published a number of e-mails of Politico journalists lining things up with the Democratic Party in an unprofessional way. But it does also do some good work and it's opened Politico EU. And that's really produced some fine work, especially for the European context. It's taken some of some of the good traditions, which are in rapid decay, from the United States print press and has transported it to Europe. And the traditions in Europe, across most of the countries, in some ways are quite poor compared to what was the best of US journalism. And over time of course any outlet, if it wasn't started by an oligarch or someone connected to the existing establishment in a particular European capital, soon enough its owner, editors, senior journalists, they start to socially integrate with the very establishment they are meant to be policing. And that becomes a problem. But because Politico.EU is an outside intervention from Americans into Europe, that mostly doesn't exist yet, so it's still fresh. The Intercept does some good things. Glenn Greenwald most robustly, yeah, it can do some good things. Some of the German press. They still have this problem that they are too close to their establishments. They can do good stuff. Sometimes the French press.
[01:00:23] ME: I know that we could probably continue this for another hour but we have kind of run out of time. I think one of the greatest aspects, qualities of the IBA is the ability to enter into a dialogue even when the issues are quite controversial, and even when the individuals are quite controversial. But I think that's one of our greatest assets. Julian, I want to thank you for being with us. I would like to have the audience thank you as well for spending time with us. [applause]