Monday 10th September, 15:30 BST – Updated Monday 10th September, 17:00 BST
In response to today’s publication by Ofcom of its decision not to uphold Julian Assange’s complaint against the Channel 4 programme “WikiLeaks: Secrets & Lies”, Julian Assange echoed criticisms made by many that the regulator is too close to the industry it is meant to be regulating. Such criticisms have previously noted that Ofcom’s Chief Executive Ed Richard’s previous job at Channel 4 was reflected in the regulator’s “apparent profound reluctance today to criticise any of the broadcaster’s output”. Ed Richards is a former Senior Policy Advisor to Tony Blair and, prior to that, was Corporate Controller of Strategy at the BBC. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art…
This reluctance is also apparent in both the content of this adjudication and the circumstances of its publication today.
Ofcom gave Julian Assange only seven minutes’ notice that the adjudication was about to be published on its website Bulletin Board, in contravention of their own guidelines, which state:
1.30 Before publishing its final Adjudication, Ofcom will provide the broadcaster and complainant with a strictly embargoed draft copy of the Adjudication for the purposes of correcting factual inaccuracies only. The broadcaster and the complainant will then be given 48 hours in which to respond with such corrections, following which Ofcom will publish the Adjudication.
Julian Assange was first informed that Ofcom had reached a final adjudication on 6 September 2012 at 10:03 am. No copy of the adjudication was enclosed with Ofcom’s email. WikiLeaks was then informed at 9:53 am on 10 September 2012 that the adjudication would be published on Ofcom’s website at 10.00 am that day. Given that the adjudication appears on pages 80 to 116 of a Bulletin accessed two levels down from Ofcom’s News home page, and not on the home page itself, and yet the Hollywood Reporter was able to produce an article approximately 1.5 hours after this publication by Ofcom, leads WikiLeaks to suspect that the adjudication was pre-circulated to industry figures.
Ofcom’s adjudication of Julian Assange’s complaint simply concurs entirely with the broadcaster’s extremely weak defence − as did its Preliminary View − and glosses over many substantiative points of fact: a concealed conflict of interest where the Guardian’s David Leigh, who is involved in a legal dispute against Assange, was a secret paid member of the production team; the one-sided granting of preview rights for fact-checking; a witness statement proving the producer knowingly allowed one of the programme contributors, the Guardian’s David Leigh, to make libellous statements; Ofcom’s refusal to investigate on-camera assertions of the true facts by independent witnesses in their interviews shot for, but not used in, the programme. These issues, and many more like them, are fully detailed in the complaint documents submitted to Ofcom.
WikiLeaks is now releasing the full unedited transcript of Julian Assange’s interview for the programme – as well as all other materials submitted for Ofcom’s adjudication – so that the public may judge for themselves the lengths to which the programme makers went to produce a biased and one-sided smear documentary to suit the agenda of their unofficial co-production partners, the Guardian newspaper, and Ofcom’s lack of independence from those it supposedly regulates.
Overview of files released as part of Ofcom complaint
This package contains never before released details about Julian Assange and the operations of WikiLeaks.
It contains more than five hours of previously unpublished interviews with Mr Assange and many other materials.
It contains full details of Julian Assange’s formal complaint to Ofcom, the UK’s statutory regulator for broadcasting, about the Channel 4 funded documentary “WikiLeaks: Secrets & Lies”, which was secretly co-produced by the Guardian’s David Leigh as part of the Guardian’s legal dispute with WikiLeaks. This conflict of interest was kept from viewers in violation of U.K. broadcasting standards.
The WikiLeaks-Guardian dispute arose when the Guardian broke of all three parts of WikiLeaks’ Cablegate contract (security, confidentiality/source protection, embargo time). A few senior staff of the Guardian, including Leigh and his brother-in-law, editor Alan Rusbridger (who signed the contract), possibly fearful for their own personal liability and reputations after the breach, embarked on a campaign against WikiLeaks before a damages case could be brought, despite ongoing objections from other Guardian staff.
The documentary aired on Channel 4’s More4 cable channel on 29 November 2011 – six days before an appeal ruling was due from the High Court regarding Julian Assange’s case.
Prior to filming, “Oxford Films” pitched the documentary to WikiLeaks as a factual accounting of the WikiLeaks story focusing on the substance, content and impact of the Iraq, Afghan and diplomatic cables and the pre-trial abuse of Bradley Manning in order to gain an interview with Julian Assange for the programme, including giving written undertakings that the programme would not focus on Julian’s personal life or any “unrelated legal proceedings”. Instead, Oxford Films produced a documentary which did precisely what it had promised not to, but which suited the agenda of its concealed partner, the Guardian newspaper, as represented by David Leigh.
David Leigh – a well-known adversary of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and a key player in some of the issues discussed in the programme – was also used as the programme’s fact-checker and was paid ’consultancy fees’ for this role, despite his own controversial involvement in events and his bias against WikiLeaks being known and admitted to by the named producers.
The documents released here include a transcript of five hours of unedited interview footage shot for the programme and all correspondence with both the producers and with Ofcom. Together, these documents represent a great compendium of factual statements.
The material contains the following significant information. (The easiest way to access the full details is from the Response to Ofcom Preliminary View document, in which relevant transcript timecodes are given):
Correspondence regarding the submission of a witness statement to the UK’s Leveson Inquiry into phone-hacking regarding Guardian journalist Nick Davies’ testimony to the Inquiry about a remark falsely attributed to Julian Assange that he said “They’re informants, they deserve to die”. This is a dangerous claim in the context of an ongoing US espionage investigation against WikiLeaks for publishing these documents in which “intent” to harm US interests is part of the espionage statute, as both Leigh and Davies know. The libel derives from David Leigh, who has repeated it, in various formulations, to attack Assange, claiming that the remark was made at a specific dinner at which Afghan War Diaries redactions were discussed. The signed witness statement is by a journalist working for Der Spiegel (a German weekly mazagine which partnered with WikiLeaks on its 2010 releases) who was present at the dinner and confirms that Julian Assange never made a remark with such a meaning. Nick Davies wasn’t even present at the dinner. A transcript of Nick Davies’ testimony is included as an attachment to page for reference. Julian Assange has previously been invited to submit evidence to the Leveson Inquiry regarding the failure of the Press Complaints Commission to get UK newspapers to correct articles falsely stating that he has been ’charged’ in relation to allegations made in Sweden, following more than 73 separate complaints to the PCC.
Full details of the redaction and harm minimisation processes agreed by the media partnership – WikiLeaks, the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times – for the release of the Afghan War Diaries, including agreement that it was the job of the newspaper journalists to identify document types and patterns that likely needed to be redacted. The programme deliberately excludes this fact and instead allows Guardian interviewees to blame WikiLeaks for the failure to redact these names and the subsequent agrressive stance of the Pentagon.
In-depth discussion of the analysis, editing and follow-up investigation of the Collateral Murder video and how its release by WikiLeaks blind-sided the Pentagon spin machine for two days.
Details of the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks convened by the US Department of Justice to try to indict Julian Assange and WikiLeaks staff and associates on espionage charges, and the high-level political implications revealed by his battle against extradition to Sweden, are both discussed in depth during Assange’s interview for the programme. Virtually none of this material is included in the final edit. Instead, the programme allows Guardian interviewees and a former WikiLeaks employee sacked for misappropriation to give a salacious and partial account of sexual allegations made against an uncharged man.
A long-standing libel has been that Julian Assange said “They’re informants, they deserve to die” when discussing the redaction of the Afghan War Diaries with journalists from Der Spiegel and the Guardian during a dinner in London in July 2010. The supporting materials to this complaint show this is untrue. They include a signed witness statement from a Der Spiegel journalist who was present at the dinner confirming that Assange never made this remark. The journalist told the producer this off-camera but the producer still allowed Guardian interviewees to repeat the libel in the finished programme.
That Julian Assange didn’t want the New York Times involved in the Cablegate release of State Department diplomatic cables because of their previous coverage of the story uncovered in the Iraq War Logs of how US forces handed over Iraqi detainees for torture, which they ran with the headline “Some detainees fared worse in Iraqi hands”. The Ofcom complaint details how the reasoning behind his decision was clearly explained in Assange’s interview but dishonestly edited in the programme as being about a “sleazy hit piece” the New York Times ran on him. The interview also covers in depth Assange’s assessment of the US media landscape and the New York Times’ position within it.
That Julian Assange’s spectacular fall-out with the Guardian followed a tip-off from journalists that the Guardian and the New York Times were colluding to cut WikiLeaks out of the media partnership for the Cablegate release and to secretly start publishing while WikiLeaks still had people in the United States. Assange’s interview for the programme sets out the full details of this plot, which led to a heated 1 November 2010 legal confrontation at the Guardian’s offices about it, but none of this material is used in the screened ’documentary’. The edited programme omits key facts to give an untruthful, pro-Guardian account of events. The Ofcom complaint contains independent corroboration of the facts by Der Spiegel journalists. However, repeated requests that Ofcom also obtain the unedited interview footage of Der Spiegel journalists shot for the programme in which they confirm these facts on camera have been refused by the regulator.
The full story behind “Passwordgate” – the publication of the encryption key to the unredacted cableset in Guardian journalist David Leigh’s book – and the subsequent release of the unredacted cables onto the internet. How the Guardian broke its contract with WikiLeaks (referred to as Doc N in the Ofcom complaint and included with this information for reference), and how it ignored all three security measures stipulated in it, which were designed to keep the encrypted files safe.
A full rebuttal (with evidence) of the media claim that Julian Assange stated that the Swedish allegations against him were a CIA plot.
In his own words: How Julian Assange really sees America, and why he is labelled “anti-American” by Guardian journalists to the public.
In his own words: How Julian Assange sees the role of whistleblowers and their value to society in increasing human knowledge.
Background on Ofcom’s investigative process:
Ofcom aims to reach its final adjudication of complaints within 90 days of its formal Entertainment Decision to investigate a particular complaint. Ofcom investigations follow a standard procedure:
Complaint (must be received within 20 days of original broadcast, or reasons why not given)
Ofcom’s Entertainment Decision (within 25 days)
Ofcom requests broadcast programme, unedited footage and transcripts from broadcaster, which are all then passed to the complainant
Broadcaster’s formal Response (1 month allowed)
Ofcom prepares Preliminary View (no timescale)
Complainant’s reply to Broadcaster’s Response and Preliminary View (10 working days allowed)
Broadcaster’s final response (10 working days allowed)
Ofcom prepares Final Adjudication (no timescale)
Folder 1 – Pre-production Information
Full pre-production email correspondence chain
Link to transcript of phone call Julian Assange to Patrick Forbes 16/11/2011 http://wikileaks.org/Guardian-s-Wik… (this link also sets out many other substantive points of the complaint)
Folder 2 – Complaint Information
Full complaint (9 January 2012)
Ofcom Entertainment Decision (14 February 2012)
Channel 4 Julian Assange Ofcom Response (14 March 2012)
Ofcom Preliminary View (11 June 2012)
Julian Assange – Response to Ofcom Preliminary View (25 June 2012)
Channel 4’s final statement: Case No. 1-196583661 (16 July 2012)
Ofcom Assange Adjudication for Publication (10 September 2012)
Full email correspondence file Julian Assange/Ofcom
Folder 4 – Other supporting Documents
Signed witness statement John Goetz, Der Spiegel
Translation of pgs 165-167, Staatsfeind WikiLeaks, Marcel Rosenbach/Holgar Stark, Der Spiegel
Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy pages 110-112
MOU Guardian Letter for Package 3 – 30/7/2010 (PDF) (referred to as Doc N in complaint)
Wikileaks Statement on Daniel Domscheit-Berg 20/8/2011 http://wlcentral.org/node/2171 (referred to as Doc M in complaint)
Julian Assange Release co-signed