On Reddit, Assange answers questions on Snowden, leaks but dodges others on sexual assault, Bitcoin
In the now time-honored tradition of the democratic Internet, Julian Assange took to Reddit today to do an AMA. “I am Julian Assange, publisher of Wikileaks. Ask me anything,” Assange said.
The conversation is the latest in Assange’s recent press push to remind the world he still exists. He spoke as the keynote at SXSW via video conferencing and yesterday he had a big press call with various media outlets to update them on his ongoing extradition battles. It marked his second year stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy without recourse.
The majority of the answers on Reddit — and Assange’s answers — invoiced standard Wikileaks talking points. Assange thinks Snowden “performed an intelligent and heroic act.” He thinks government secrecy for national security should be the exception, not the rule. He believes smears don’t have staying power and the truth has a habit of reasserting itself.
But there were a few quirky gems. One Redditor asked Assange whether he was bored, stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy all day. That’s the sort of question that Reddit’s AMAs were built for. The type few journalists are likely to ask, but still once you hear the question you’re immediately curious of the answer. Quora-style.
“I only wish there was a risk of boredom in my present situation,” Assange says.
He explained that being at the center of a “pitched, prolonged diplomatic standoff” has its share of excitement to keep him entertained. Since everyone knows he’s at the Ecuadorian embassy he has visitors every day, which he sees while continuing to direct Wikileaks. “I barely have time to sleep, let alone become bored.”
There were plenty of commenter questions that Assange dodged, particularly those tied to the pending sexual assault allegations the Swedish government has levied against Assange.
One Redditor, ElizabethFamous, said “Can you leak some documents on sexual assault and how high profile men have trouble understanding and accepting the idea of consent?” Another said, “So, you’re a person who claims to stand for freedom of information and transparency. Why have you refused to return to Sweden to face questioning over your alleged sexual assault? It seems a double standard that you demand transparency and free questioning of others, yet refuse to submit to similar questioning of your own doings.”
Assange also ignored questions about his thoughts on Bitcoin, whether he shares beers with Snowden over Skype, and which modern government has the most transparency, electing instead to take a minute to play therapist, responding to madazzahatter’s query “Many of us feel helpless, overwhelmed and small. We are screaming for change, but what steps can we take?
“When we are aware of the world and the scale of its inhumanity and stupidity we feel small,” Assange says. He postulated that it’s very hard to "think globally" and "act locally", because by thinking globally people become overwhelmed with the scale of the problems to be solved. He didn’t have many answers to that problem, aside from saying that ordinary people can support bigger projects like Wikileaks.
As for how he believes history will remember him, Assange said, “Smears don't have much staying power on their own because they deviate from the foundations of reality (what actually happened). They require constant energy from our opponents to keep going. The truth has a habit of reasserting itself.”
Does he have any regrets from his time as leak master of the universe?
“No,” Assange says. “We make a promise to our sources. We keep it.”
[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando/NSFWCORP]