Julian Assange, who was arrested yesterday in London after living an isolated life in the Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years, gave an exclusive interview to the Blic in 2014. This was his first ever interview for a Serbian media outlet. Among other things, he spoke about dispatches relating to Serbia published by Wikileaks.
You recently said that Serbia and Ukraine both have a role of a leader. What did you mean by that?
When I said that Serbia, just like Ukraine, is one of the most important leaders, I thought of the countries that are considered “in-betweeners” These are countries the future visits first, with all its horrors and allure. The destiny of all pioneers, and therefore Serbia, is to be misrepresented. We really live in a time that is lodged between two epochs. We are the last free generation because the time has come for a global dystopia of control to take over.
Who would want for a small country like Serbia to be so misrepresented?
There are different reasons for that – from misunderstanding through ignorance to a deliberate campaign. It’s the same with certain individuals, including myself, who, for various reasons, find themselves to be in-between, and on the path to the coming dystopia.
How much do you know about the current political developments in our country and the debate about whether Serbia should be more inclined towards the East or the West?
Due to my life circumstances, I read a lot about what is happening in Serbia as well. It is exactly because of this position that people in Serbia learned that they should not implicitly trust anyone, neither the East nor the West. No country in this world can stand alone against technological totalitarianism. We have been witnessing the extraordinary political radicalization of our societies, which is connected to the Internet, and therefore the introduction of mass control of Internet communications. These two forces are shaping our future. They are also shaping our place in the future and every aspect of this future. That is why people have to turn to each other, to fight together for freedom and their place in this new world.
You also said that Serbia had strength. What did you mean by that?
The position of an in-between state does give your strength because it creates opportunities. This position enhances people’s thirst for the truth and gives people the necessary perspective to recognize the truth when they find it. But only you can decide how to use this position.
A number of the dispatches that Wikileaks had publicly revealed include those sent from the US Embassy in Serbia. Do these dispatches prove that, following Milošević’s fall, it was Washington that instructed the new Serbian government what to do?
I am trying to separate my work and activities from a particular ideology or political position because my basic premise is that our civilization is as good as the knowledge it possesses. For this reason, great powers, like the United States, want to master all that knowledge and information, which brings us to the time of a new transnational dystopia that has never existed so far. One of the features of this dystopia is that it does not affect only one country in one region, but all countries around the world. It affects all countries at the same time. I think it is important for people in Serbia to be primarily aware of these dangers and, as a result of this awareness, begin to work on changing people’s behaviour. Only through joining forces can we come up with ideas on how to fight. This is a matter of political consciousness and self-awareness. It’s an approximation that will benefit us all.
You suffered a barrage of accusations when Wikileaks published the dispatches. What was your justification for this move?
One of the first things that we published, which was also one of the most viewed videos, is the US military helicopter Apache killing civilians and Reuters’ journalists in Iraq. What happened after we published that? Chelsea Manning, who gave us that video, was sentenced to 35 years in prison. But what happened to the crew of that helicopter and their superiors who ordered that attack? We do not have a specific political agenda; we are just trying to open up a space for authentic political engagement. There are people who have certain information and want to publish it. We are some sort of an advocate for such people when they “appear in court”, so to speak. Of course, we do not represent everyone, but only people who have information of political, diplomatic, ethical or historical importance, which has not been published before and which some powers do not want to see being published publicly. These are our main criteria for revealing information. Intelligence services are experts at concealing and suppressing this kind of information because they believe that publishing such information will diminish the power of their institutions. And if you want to stop injustice, you must make sure that more people find out about it.
Considering the current situation that you are in, would you say that your activism is worthwhile?
Yes, I am very proud of everything we have achieved in Wikileaks. Of course, anyone has common sense learns over time how to improve themselves and all that they do. But when it comes to the truth we are fighting for, each victim is worth it. We all have a limited number of days in this world and it is important that we live them fully and in accordance with our principles. If we were to live in any other way, it would be a useless waste of our time and our very being.
At which point you were really scared for your life?
There have been various situations that could be described as dangerous. Since different officials have wanted to see me killed, calling me a traitor and friend of terrorists, during the first days of my stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy, there was a strong possibility for the British police to detain, arrest and extradite me. But all of us are exposed to different risks every day. Perhaps they do not look like a mortal danger, but they directly threaten our freedom and our basic rights.
Can journalism fight back politics, big business and technology which is something that you write about in your book?
Just like everybody else, journalists must be aware of the moment in which we are living and all of its challenges. Secondly, they must master technology. If we do it the right way, we can build a solid structure of our history, which no political power can change. Nobody knows whether we are going to win, but this is the only way for us.
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