WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange says Indian leaders are trying to mislead the public by challenging the authenticity of US diplomatic cables suggesting some MPs were bribed during a 2008 parliament trust vote.
“It is not correct to say that all these cables are mere opinions by US diplomats, that is not true,” Assange told NDTV’s Prannoy Roy in an interview telecast Monday.
“These are official correspondence sent by ambassadors, sent in their official capacity… They report what they say are facts, and they also present opinions. It’s important to keep these two different,” he said.
“In the case of the Indian cable which is causing such a furore about bribery, it is very hard to understand why any US embassy official would lie to Washington…
“The comment I have been hearing from Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh, these, to me, seem like a deliberate attempt to mislead the public by suggesting that governments around the world do not accept the material and it is not verified… absolutely false!
“There is no doubt these are bonafide reports sent by American ambassador to Washington and these should be seen in that context. That does not mean every fact in them are correct,” he said.
Assange’s comments follow the uproar in India after an American embassy cable leaked by WikiLeaks quoted an aide to a Congress leader as saying that money was paid to some MPs — and more were to be paid — to win support for Manmohan Singh’s government in parliament in July 2008.
The government has denied the allegation. Government leaders have also said that the leaked cables carry no authenticity and cannot be verified.
Assange argued that if this was true, then US diplomats in India can be accused of lying.
“If this cable on bribery is incorrect, then the US ambassador in India has a lot to answer for because he has been sending back very serious reports to Washington about senior politicians and (their) behaviour in Indian parliament, which casts it in very negative light.
“It would affect the relationship between India and the US,” he said. “So he has committed a grave error.”
Assange, an Australian, said there was “an attempt to distort the record and fool the public about the nature of the material.
“First, they refused to comment at all, (then) to suggest the materials are not verified and no other government accepted it. Absolutely false…
“This is actually the behaviour of guilty men. Man who is innocent doesn’t tend to behave like that.
“That doesn’t mean people making those statements like Prime Minister Singh are guilty of this particular crime.
“It suggests something that how Indian parliamentarians and politicians respond to very serious allegations.
“They respond through indirection and attempting to cover up the issue for the public, rather than address it fully and frankly.”
WikiLeaks accessed over 200,000 US diplomatic cables from an American soldier who is now in jail.