In light of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks publishing more than 90,000 secret military files on the war in Afghanistan, Australian founder Julian Assange decided to give a press conference in London Monday.
Highlights from the logs, published by the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, have now thrust Wikileaks and its somewhat reclusive main man into the global spotlight.
He spoke at the Frontline Club in central London (and not for nothing was the image behind Assange that of the haunted-looking U.S. soldier from the Vietnam war), and called for greater transparency, saying there was no reason to doubt the reliability of the documents. “When we publish material, what we say is: the document as we describe it is true.” He went on to say that the cover-up of crimes begins at the bottom and that it is the messenger who gets criticized. Assange also alleged that he believes the Australian government was asked by the U.S. to engage in surveillance of him and other Wikileaks staff.
Assange did not hold back at the presser, comparing the release to “the equivalent of opening the Stasi archives.” He wouldn’t elaborate but said the documents contained details of “war crimes.” When asked about the most significant revelation, Assange answered, “The real story of this material is that it’s war, it’s one damn thing after another, it’s the continuous small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents, armed forces … the maimed people … this is the story of the war since 2004.”