From his interview with 60 Minutes:
“You obviously have a mistrust of authority, where does that come from?” 60 Minutes was known for getting right to the point, and Steve Kroft pulled no punches.
“I think it comes from experience with various types of authorities,” answered Assange.
“So you’ve always been a little bit of an outsider…”
“Certainly, when I was a child going from one school to another, you are the outsider to begin with, and you have to find your way in.”
“You’ve been called a lot of names,” said Kroft. “You’ve been characterized as a hero, and ahhh…as a villain, a martyr, terrorist…”
“I’m not yet a martyr,” smiled Assange, “let’s keep it that way.”
“I don’t think many people in the United States took seriously the idea that you were a terrorist.”
“I’d like to believe that, on the other hand, incitements to murder are a serious issue, and unfortunately there is a portion of the population that will believe them and may carry them out.”
“Are you a subversive?” asked Kroft.
“I am sure there are certain views that we are subverting their authority, but, you’re right. We are subverting illegitimate authority. The question is whether the authority is legitimate or whether it is illegitimate.”
“Do you consider the US State Department a legitimate authority?”
“It’s legitimate insofar as its actions are legitimate. It has actions that are not legitimate. In fact, our founding values are those of the US revolution. They are those of people like Jefferson and Madison…we have a number of Americans in our organization. If you are a whistle blower and you have material that is important, we will accept it, we will defend you and we will publish it. You can’t turn away material simply because it comes from the United States. That’s completely outrageous.”
“Are you surprised?”
“I am surprised,” sighed Assange, “actually.”
“You have made some of the most powerful people in the world your enemies. You had to expect that they might retaliate. They see that as a threat.”
“They see it as highly embarrassing. I think what it’s really about is keeping the illusion of control. I am surprised about that. I am surprised at the sort of flagrant disregard for US traditions.”
“Look, if you play outside the rules you can’t expect to be protected by the rules, and you played outside the rules.”
“No, we’ve actually played inside the rules. We didn’t go out and get the material, we’ve operated just like any US publisher operates, and there’s not a special set of rules for publishers who disclose classified information. There is the first amendment, it covers the case. If we’re talking about creating threats to small publishers to stop them from publishing, the US has lost it’s way, it has abrogated its founding traditions, it has thrown the first amendment in the bin, because publishers must be free to publish. We are ‘free press activists’. We want transparent government, not transparent people.”
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