WikiLeaks` Julian Assange spoke yesterday via video link to the Frontline Club in London
On Friday at the Frontline Club in London, a meeting was held with participation from Julian Assange of WikiLeaks via video link up. Mathaba has transcribed parts of the sessions, and the entire video is below thanks to One Click and the Frontline Club.
Question: Jane Bryant, from the One Click pressure group... Julian, I'd like to know your reaction on how Amnesty International et al have handled the leaks from WikiLeaks, which many people think we should all have stuck together and helped each other out, and now we hear perhaps uncorroborated statements from Amnesty, the Washington Post etc., really doing the cause down I feel. What comment might you have to make on this please?
Well, it is very interesting... there is as we put it in the back reaction, and this particular reaction of Amnesty is just extraordinary. There is no official statement by Amnesty and yet what do we see in the headlines: Amnesty International and other groups, etc. etc.
What there was, was a low-ranking person, a U.S. citizen, working in the U.K. Amnesty International Asian Interests Section, who together with a few of their contacts in some other groups, sent an Email to this organisation, well after these allegations came out about not enough redactions occurring, well after the Pentagon decided that that was their talking point, sent an Email to us to talk about that and said that they were analysing the data.
We sent back a response that that is fantastic that you are analysing the data, and any examples of where there are innocents names please send them to us and help us work through this remaining 15,000 that we have, and it's quite important. They refused over three other Emails to name any other human rights concerns they had with the material, any other thing that they were looking at.
And, during the course of this private email correspondence that was never terminated on any ill will, but rather was an ongoing process to find out how many bodies we could get from these organisations to go through the last 15,000, someone, covertly, leaked the correspondence to the Wall Street Journal.
There was no official statements. The Wall Street Journal then put that out. Why not just make a public statement?
Something very odd and disturbing was going on with that series of correspondence.
Q: (BBC) What has happened since the accusations of putting lives at risk?
First of all you have to be careful, this is a serious issue, and we must understand that we are following the Pentagon's talking points here, and during the past two weeks there's been allegations, seemingly credible ones by the Afghan government and others, that nearly one hundred civilians have been killed in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon yesterday stated that as far as it is aware no one has come to harm as a result of this release yet. And it has nearly two weeks now. And that doesn't mean that nothing has occurred, it doesn't mean nothing will occur. But we can get an idea of what numbers we are likely to see in the future, and these are not high. And yet during that time we have seen a continuous killing of civilians. And the material [that WikiLeaks released] itself documents the killing of approximately 20,000 people! We have to get things in perspective.
Now that said, of course there is a lot for us to learn in this situation. One of the things that we have learned is that human rights organisations, so-called, or at least those within those Emails that we have been receiving -- and they may have questionable motivations -- not inclined to contribute people to help us with this very difficult task [of sifting through so much data] -- that the Pentagon refuses to help us with this very difficult task and that the mainstream media -- with the exception of one individual from the [London] Times -- refuses to help us with this difficult task of going through the material.
And a lot of people are innumerate. We are talking here of about 92,000 documents -- an extraordinary compendium of war -- it is the product of war, and is the product of the very real killing of 20,000 people. And out of that we have the task of bringing that material into the historical record and of trying to get some justice for the victims and potential future victims of this war on both sides.
We're faced with no easy choices, we are faced with economic constraints, we are faced with the reality that publication often brings justice and justice delayed is justice denied. We can't sit on material like this for 3 years, with one person to go through the whole lot line by line to redact. We have to take the best road that we can and in this case that was listening to what the other press organisations were saying about the material.
They were finding particular categories that they were finding it in, looking ourselves and adding those categories to a with hold and looking at how the U.S. military is meant to treat sources and their confidentiality.
Now it is regrettable that some number and although the number is being inflated by some organisations, that some number of innocent people are named in that and they face some threat as a result but that is the constraints that we are under. For other material that we are dealing with we are now faced with this terrible conundrum: do we go through it line by line, it will cost us approximately $750,000 to do that, and there will be a delay in doing that.
Where will the money come from, because all those people who are so ready to pass blame and pretend that they are concerned about the lives of Afghan civilians are not actually willing to step up to the plate to actually put the bat in to history. What do we do about that? It's not fair, it's a difficult thing, there are no easy choices for this organisation.
This transcription is by Mathaba. The links and [comments] inserted above are for clarification or additional information. The full meeting is on this video: