Julian Assange said today that the “insurance files” he promised to release should any harm come to him or WikiLeaks should worry more than just diplomats and government sources. “There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organization and there are cables on Murdoch and News Corp,” Assange told the British paper the New Statesman. What’s the connection between whistle-blowing on wartime abuses and international diplomacy and media companies? “[T]hey speak more of the same truth to power,” said Assange, whose legal team is currently trying to fight extradition to Sweden by making the case that it could lead to detention in Guantanamo and eventual execution. Murdoch is a surprising new target considering just last month Assange invoked him and his history of truth telling to support WikiLeaks’ mission. In an op-ed in the Australian, Assange said:
“In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: ‘In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.'”
That wasn’t the first instance of Assange’s seeking umbrage in Murdoch’s shadow. During his feud with the Guardian over publishing leaked information about his sex-crimes charges, Assange used an interview with the Times U.K. to attack his former allies at the Guardian. At the time, David Leigh, the Guardian‘s investigations editor tweeted, “The #guardian published too many leaks for #Assange ‘s liking, it seems. So now he’s signed up ‘exclusively’ with #Murdoch’s Times. Gosh.”
As part of today’s big reveal about the Murdoch cables, Assange also added that attempts to indict him should worry the mainstream press, continuing his recent emphasis on his journalistic bona fides:
“I think what’s emerging in the mainstream media is the awareness that if I can be indicted, other journalists can, too,” says Assange. “Even the New York Times is worried. This used not to be the case. If a whistleblower was prosecuted, publishers and reporters were protected by the First Amendment, which journalists took for granted. That’s being lost.”
This isn’t the first time Assange has identified himself as a journalist, despite the press’s attempt to distance themselves from the idea. In order to make their espionage case against Assange, the Department of Justice has also tried to discredit the notion. Assange has won awards for journalism, and in an interview with Time in July, he said, “I am a journalist and publisher and inventor.” But in the past, he’s also branded WikiLeaks as a whistle-blowing organization, which would place him more in the “source” camp than the “publisher” one. Regardless, it seems like an odd time to choose a media organization, even as reviled a conglomerate as New Corp., as his next target.