WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the “tremendous” anti-corruption movement “building up” in India is a result of the publication of “cablegate” revelations by The Hindu in recent weeks.
Citing the campaign, led by Anna Hazare, as an example of the impact of WikiLeaks cables, he said what was happening in India was “something that has not happened since the time of Gandhi.”
Mr. Assange singled out The Hindu's coverage of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables while speaking in a debate organised by the Frontline Club and New Statesman here on Saturday.
Stating that he could “speak for hours” about the reverberations sparked by the cables around the world, he noted: “Just yesterday [on Saturday], the Editor of The Hindu, the most respected paper in India, brought over 21 front pages from the past six weeks that were based on cablegate material. Indian Parliament walked out four times and there's now a tremendous anti-corruption movement that has been building up in that country — something that has not happened since the time of Gandhi.”
Making a difference
Mr. Assange, making a rare public appearance, said the WikiLeaks cables were making a difference in ways that many Britons wouldn't have heard about. And, then, he referred to the developments in India following The Hindu's reporting of WikiLeaks documents.
A 900-strong audience in the packed Kensington Town Hall in central London listened as Mr. Assange defended the need for anonymous whistle-blowing, arguing that it made the world a safer place. The “bloodbath” in Iraq could have been averted if someone had had the courage to speak up.
Challenged over WikiLeaks' own transparency, he said: “We are directly supported on a week-to-week basis by you. You vote with your wallets every week if you believe that our work is worthwhile or not. If you believe we have erred, you do not support us. If you believe we need to be protected in our work, you keep us strong. That dynamic feedback, I say, is more responsive than a government that is elected after sourcing money from big business every four years.”
Mr. Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, said whistle-blowing was essential in a democracy because “the only way we can know whether information is legitimately kept secret is when it is revealed.”
He also referred to the plight of U.S. marine Bradley Manning, now in prison over allegations of leaking thousands of classified American documents.
During the debate, “This house believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place,” Mr. Assange was challenged about his website's source of funding and style of operation.