said that in the near future, Russian citizens will learn a lot about their
country. He wasn't bluffing. The cables of U.S. diplomats are just a tiny
sliver of the WikiLeaks dossier. Our cooperation will mainly be focused on
uncovering corruption at the highest political strata. Now, none will be
shielded from the truth."
Russian President Vladimir Putin: Unless he and his fellow global leaders are in for more rude awakenings unless they manage to silence Julian Assange and his creation, WikiLeaks. Putin claims someone is 'misleading' WikiLeaks.
As of today, Novaya Gazeta is an official partner of
Recently, there have been so many conspiracy theories and delirious
conspiratorial accusations around the site and its founder, Julian Assange,
that we probably should explain how we arrived at the idea of a partnership.
I once met Assange: we drank vodka in a circle of mutual
friends in a small apartment in Stockholm. To help you understand: Assange, who
today is being called everything from an undercover operative of the U.S. State
Department to Agent Smith of the movie Matrix come to life, looked like
a typical nerd from the mathematics department of some university. He wore a
long awkward sweater, jeans someone gave him as a gift and socks that didn't
match. It was hard to believe when, a few months later, he surpassed bin Laden
on the Pentagon's list of leading enemies and senior American politicians
began seriously discussions on the need to simply eliminate the man.
Assange is perhaps the world's greatest hacker. At least
among those interested in politics rather than stealing money from bank
accounts, he has no equal. Even in a circle of acquaintances and with a shot of
vodka, he spoke in a whisper, fearing that someone might overhear: he had a
meeting planned late at night with someone, which he arranged as he repeatedly
changed cell phones and SIM cards.
Assange's goal is very simple and impossibly naïve: to make
the world as transparent as possible and minimize the possibility of any
government making decisions without the knowledge of the people. In regard to
such a goal, one could laugh - but Assange believes in it with the conviction
of a child. That evening we met, for example, he described how he managed to
hack into the database of Panamanian companies and uncover the ties between the
American establishment and arms dealers. A typical journalist would have spoken
of this in sensational terms. But he did so as a person who for the first time
had solved Rubik’s cube, or as an entomologist who had just discovered a new
species of butterfly.
WikiLeaks’ chief critics talk about one thing: Assange’s
mission is incompatible with the interests of national security. It's easy to
test this theory: over the past decade, this has been perhaps the most
effective tool of governments to justify their actions and regulate society. In
the name of national security, gubernatorial elections can be cancelled
[Russia]; in the name of saving the nation, another contingent of troops can be
sent to die in a godforsaken land, and even businessmen can be put behind bars,
named an enemy of the people and a threat to national security [a reference to
former Russian oligarch Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, among others].
It's startling, given how successfully this theory has
worked before, how is has begun to malfunction when applied to the phenomenon
of WikiLeaks. This site has many enemies in the highest political circles, among the generals, and within the bureaucracy. But it has a far larger
number of supporters among the common people. There is a very simple
explanation for this: the soldier who has lost his legs in Afghanistan receives
a long explanation about how he has spilled his blood in the name of national
security; but suddenly Assange comes along, who has shown that behind all of
the eloquent words about national security, hide the interests of a handful of privileged
officials sleeping with prostitutes and greedy politicians who have get a
percentage from every meter of gas pipeline. Such people are always ready for
serious discussions of the right to free speech - but only to the point where
free speech threatens their own power and their happy existence. WikiLeaks is
the first attempt at making real the idea of absolute freedom of
Assange is feared by officials of all the world's leading
powers. The effectiveness of his site is the envy of the largest media outlets.
Look: the most senior officials have been prompted by this odd character to
persuade publications to stop publishing, presidents are having to justify
themselves to one another, and, under the pressure from WikiLeaks, even the
mysterious [energy trading] firm Gunvor has been
forced to identify one of its owners [Gennady Timchenko].
Suddenly, the authorities had to speak the truth, and for this, they will never
[Editor's Note: According
to AOL News, one of the disclosed U.S. diplomatic cables from 2008
relayed local gossip that "secretive" Swiss oil-trading firm Gunvor -
run by "Gennady Timchenko, who is rumored to be a former KGB colleague of
Putin's" - was "rumored to be one of Putin's sources of undisclosed
wealth." The company made huge profits, the cable noted, by levying a $1
surcharge on every barrel of oil exported, rather than the usual 5 to 20 cents.
That cable is sure to lead to renewed scrutiny of Putin's wealth, which in 2007
was estimated to be at least $40 billion, making him Europe's richest man.]
Today, the founder of WikiLeaks and his supporters have
plenty of problems. In response to Assange’s Afghan War Logs, he was accused of
sleeping with women without a condom, and a “leak” of his love letters followed
the publication of the U.S. diplomatic cables. And now, at the highest
political levels, a discussion has begun: is it possible to prove that the
courtships of a hacker are harassment?
Now persecution has begun of one of Assange’s acquaintances
- a WikiLeaks partner in Sweden named Johannes Wahlstrom. He published a U.S.
diplomatic cable that suggests that Swedish Special Forces have been secretly
monitoring citizens. And in this country [Sweden], which is said to be an
advocate of free speech, leading newspapers and radio stations are beginning to
seriously accuse Wahlstrom in being his father’s son - a person famed for his
anti-Semitic pronouncements. From this fact we are led to arrive at this
theory: all of Wahlstrom’s work has hidden anti-Semitic overtones and is aimed
at breaking the "Zionist conspiracy." The magic power of governments
has collapsed in the face of truth, and in a panic, they haven't been able to
come up with anything better than stories of ripped condoms and anti-Semitic
Assange has said that in the near future, Russian citizens
will learn a lot about their country. He wasn't bluffing. The cables of U.S.
diplomats are just a tiny sliver of the WikiLeaks dossier. Our cooperation will
mainly be focused on uncovering corruption at the highest political strata.
Now, none will be shielded from the truth.
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