WikiLeaks has released an annotated version of a leaked transcript of a documentary in a bid to counter a film that takes a critical look at the anti-secrecy group and which opens on Friday.
WikiLeaks said it had not participated in the making of “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” a film by Alex Gibney that focuses on the website’s controversial founder Julian Assange and its chief informant Bradley Manning.
Manning, a US Army intelligence analyst who admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of secret military logs and confidential embassy cables to WikiLeaks, faces possible life imprisonment in a military trial to resume June 3.
Assange, the Australian hacker who founded the site, has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for nearly a year, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a sexual assault case.
WikiLeaks said late Thursday that the film “portrays Manning’s alleged acts as a failure of character rather than a triumph of conscience” and said the film’s portrayal of his relationship with Assange was “grossly irresponsible.”
The portrayal “suggests — erroneously and when evidence is to the contrary — that Assange may be guilty of conspiring with Bradley Manning to commit espionage or similar offences.”
The WikiLeaks statement added that “neither Julian Assange nor anyone associated with WikiLeaks over the past two-and-a-half years agreed to participate in the film.”
It then posted what appeared to be a full transcript of the documentary with copious notes alleging factual errors and misrepresentations.
In a recent interview with CBS news, the American director Gibney said the film is concerned with “both the abuse of power and hubris on the part of the US government, but certainly also on the part of Julian Assange.”
“At his moment of greatest fame, (Assange) ends up becoming all too much like the enemies he sought to take out or expose,” Gibney said.
Gibney told CBS he engaged in “endless negotiations” with Assange but that his requests to interview the WikiLeaks founder were ultimately denied.
He was also unable to interview Manning, who has been in military detention since his arrest in 2010.
In a separate interview with NPR aired Friday, Gibney said Assange and Manning, didn’t necessarily change how governments operate, but, “at a moment in time when governments are keeping far too many secrets,” they helped reveal the people pulling the “levers” behind the scenes.
“We see that a lot of those ‘levers’ are doing pretty terrible things.”
The United States has accused WikiLeaks of endangering national security by leaking the documents, which included reports of torture and civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The diplomatic cables include candid comments by world leaders and confidential assessments by US diplomats that in many cases proved embarrassing to the State Department and other governments.
Manning admitted in February to leaking the war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks and said he would plead guilty to 10 of the less serious charges against him, which could see him sentenced to 20 years in military custody.
The 25-year-old, who was working as a US Army intelligence analyst when he was arrested in Iraq in 2010, has denied the more serious charge of “aiding the enemy,” which could carry a life sentence.
Manning is set to go before a full court martial on June 3, with the trial expected to last 12 weeks.