If you want an interview, it’s unwise to ask WikiLeaks founder and former hacker Julian Assange about charges of sexual impropriety, as CNN correspondent Atika Shubert found out recently.
When Shubert first inquired about the allegations of internal turmoil at WikiLeaks — claims leveled by former employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg — Assange took a dry tone and emphasized that his purpose for appearing in front of the cameras was the publication of classified Iraq war documents.
Then she asked about the molestation charges being investigated by Swedish police. Her written report to CNN, which initially summarized that he refused to talk about it, is something of a polite understatement.
“This interview is about something else,” he said. “I will have to walk if you are… If you are going to contaminate this extremely serious interview with questions about my personal life.”
The reporter persisted, so Assange calmly got up, removed his mic, apologized and left.
Appearing at a London press conference on Saturday, Assange insisted that the site’s latest disclosure is “about the truth.”
“The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends,” he said. “We hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued on since the war officially concluded.”
He claims the cache of documents reveals over 104,000 civilian deaths during the Iraq war, and an initial report by the Associated Press confirms the files detail at least 15,000 additional unreported civilian casualties.
Additionally, German paper Der Spiegel pointed to several accounts of what it calls “dubious attacks” by US Apache helicopters, suggesting they may have amounted to war crimes.
Assange has called the charges of rape and molestation, filed by two women in Sweden, a “smear campaign” based on a consensual relationship.
This video is from CNN, broadcast Friday, Oct. 22, 2010.